Let’s be honest here, putting the slogan #girlboss on a t shirt, doesn’t solve gender inequality and Gen Z can see straight through that kind of optical allyship. Yet, International Women’s Day has continued to become hijacked over the last few years, by brands, by companies wanting to proclaim their feminist clout for one day a year, but not actually paying their workers minimum wage, or at all. In the same way that Pride has become massively corporatised too, but that’s a story for another day. We wanted to provide some clarity to the noise and find out how young women aged between 16-25 actually felt about being an empowered woman in 2021.
Partnering with Sheeran Perry, an incredible all female influencer marketing agency we curated two surveys. One focused on career progression – what does empowerment actually mean and look like today? What are the barriers to progress in the workplace? Can young women really do whatever the f*** they want in 2021? And if not, why not.
The second survey for the International Women's Day series which we’ll be sharing more about in the coming days, asked the question “Do Brands Really Care About Women?”. The data drawn then fuelled conversations in a series of interviews with incredible filmmakers, artists, record producers, entrepreneurs and influencers on the Sheeran Perry IGTV here.
In our first survey, we began broadly with a seemingly simple enough question, that sparked many a nuanced discussion in the IGTV’s:
Who runs the world. Men or women?
The majority felt that women run the world, (at 70%) but the really fascinating point comes when using ThisThat analytics we cross filtered the question with “how do you define success? Wealth or happiness.”
Of those who felt men ran the world, it was more likely for these respondents to define success as wealth, rather than happiness.
Perhaps this speaks to the way in which power, whether it be in government, in business or in the corner shop down the road tends to aggregate to the men at the forefront of decision making, and therefore so too do the resources. We all remember that infamous stat, there are fewer women running FTSE firms than men named John….
Show me the money
Money is often a dirty word, and it shouldn’t be. Asking for a pay rise, transparency over wages and freelance rates leads to every entrepreneur, creative and business person making better decisions and having greater agency over their career. We found that:
In the workplace, women are 35% less likely to ask for pay rise than men.
This statistic was unsurprising considering that asking for more or speaking out is often not rewarded for women in the workplace. Difficult conversations, more often than not need to be cotton wooled in “niceness” or “politeness”, otherwise many women feel they run the risk of being labelled “difficult” or “not a team player”, simply for expressing their opinion.
Is Linkedin a dangerous platform for women?
One difficult conversation many women are forced to have is on sexist remarks in the office, small snipes which undermine their position, constant interruption or questioning of their decisions makes it virtually a job just to exist in a woman’s body and be in a workplace environment, before they've even got around to doing what they’re being paid for.
Women are 236% more likely to have experienced sexism in university/ workplace environments than men, with the majority of women at 74% having been a victim of sexism.
This statistic is extraordinary, it almost doesn't seem real. But, in some ways it's unsurprising. Every woman I know has a story about a creepy colleague, an inappropriate question. One friend was asked out by her manager 20 years (!) her senior with absolutely no flirtation or encouragement precipitating the fact.
It was interesting to compare the differing cultures in creative and corporate environments, many would perhaps assume that after the #metoo snow storm of the last few years, the creative world would come out faring worse.
In fact, we found when using the filter and compare function that:
Young women are equally as likely to have been a victim of sexism whether they are in a corporate or creative environment.
There’s a slightly increase of 3% working in a creative industry, but it’s marginal. Something which is often not reported on and may shock users on the Linkedin community, is that:
Women who have experienced sexism at university/ work are also 28% more likely to have experienced sexual advances on Linkedin.
Predatory behaviour on Linkedin, cannot be dismissed and is something which Linkedin moderators should actively be combatting. We cross filtered responses to sexism with those who had also received inappropriate messages on Linkedin to gather this insight. Linkedin, funnily enough, is a networking platform, and not only is it incredibly unprofessional, it’s also just so easy to meet people online these days, just download a goddamn dating app (!) like a normal human being. Take your inappropriate messages and claims of “wanting to connect to someone local” (local to London?! A place with 8.982 million people!), somewhere else please Kevin.
Considering the level of intense scrutiny, sexism and struggle to be paid their worth we found that:
A workplace which prioritises mental health results in women feeling 40% more supported in their career progression.
This statistic is incredibly telling, and emphasises the need for companies to really invest in the correct mental health facilities, not just using it as a buzz word but a doing word.
Barriers of gender and race also play an incredibly important role when it comes to those who have suffered the greatest loss of work over the pandemic. In our analysis we uncovered that:
43% of those who identify as gender fluid saying they have lost out on work.
BIPOC men were also found to be 47% more likely to have lost work in the pandemic
It’s quite shocking that there’s almost a 50% increase in likelihood of having lost work from these two groups during the corona virus pandemic. Economic instability and institutional racism are incredibly difficult issues and deserving of their own analysis, this is perhaps an aspect we will zoom into with our next exploratory research piece.
These statistics may paint quite a bleak picture of the present day environment for women, BIPOC and other marginalised communities but the conversations they inspired were far from it. Women discovering their creative voice after feeling unsatisfied by larger companies, not actually enjoying their so called “dream job” or simply not seeing a place for themselves when they started out. Many women interviewed in the IGTV series turned to creating their own content or building their own business, becoming their own boss and discovering the incredibly rewarding life of feeling respected, doing what they want, exactly how they want to after feeling disheartened in a more corporate environment. Or, even defying societal expectations and becoming an astronaut, like one of our amazing guests. Inspiring women are tough, go via the back door to get to their dreams and hustle. It’s hard work to be an empowered woman in 2021, let’s hope subsequent years will make it that little bit easier.
Data powered by us. Conversations powered by Y.O.U. ThisThat providing clarity to the noise and finding out what Gen Z really think.
Survey distributed by: Becky Sheeran , Charlie Craggs, Rosie Lewis, Emily Freda Sharp and Jasmine Brownsword.