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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

Achieving Gender Equity at Work and in the Hiring Process is Still a Work In Progress

Getty Images
Getty Images

There are more women in the workforce than ever before, yet we still have a ways to go before achieving gender equity at work and in the hiring process, according to results from The Muse and Recruitment Marketing’s 2024 Women’s Workplace Experience Report. 

Attracting female talent is a key goal for most organizations, even in today’s turbulent market—yet the hiring process was singled out as an area particularly troublesome for women. In fact, 42% of women said they have encountered gender-biased or inappropriate questions during a job interview and 41% said they have felt discriminated against during a job interview, due to gender. In addition, 38% even said they hesitated to apply for a job based on perceived gender bias.

The online survey, conducted in February, with over 1,000 female-identifying respondents, also revealed that:

  • More than two-thirds of respondents (67%) think women in their industry have a hard time getting promoted;
  • 87% of respondents do not believe men and women receive the same reaction from managers when negotiating a salary increase; and
  • Approximately 50% of female employees are unsure if they are being compensated equally to their male counterparts.

Equal representation in leadership matters

Women are actively seeking companies that prioritize equal gender representation among their leadership, but companies are still falling short of this goal. Nearly four out of five women said they are more likely to seek out companies that have equal representation of women in managerial or leadership positions when looking for a new job, yet only 45% of women believe there is enough female representation in leadership roles at their current company. This makes sense given the reality that women represent only roughly 1 in 4 C-suite positions.

One of the most beneficial ways to elevate women in their careers is through mentorship and sponsorship, yet this area too seems to be lacking—41% of respondents do not currently, or have ever, had a female mentor at work. When female employees see women in leadership, it signals that the organization is committed to promoting and supporting women—which can make them more engaged with the work and organization.

While the findings paint a less than rosy outlook for women at work, it’s not all doom and gloom—63% percent of women do feel supported as a woman at work. Respondents were split when it came to the question of whether gender played a role in their success at their organization—with 49% of respondents reporting that being a woman impacted the ability to be successful in their job.

Jessica T. Piñeiro
Jessica T. Piñeiro

Regional differences persist

When it comes to women in the workplace, location can have a big impact. For example, women in the Southeast (which encompasses Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi) were much more likely to have encountered inappropriate questions in an interview (74% vs. 42% overall). Women in this region were also much more likely to have felt discriminated against in an interview (63% vs. 42% overall) and more likely to feel women have a hard time being promoted at work (89% vs. 68% overall). What’s more—only 26% of women in the Southeast reported ever having a mentor.

It wasn’t just the Southeast that showed regional variations. Women in the North Midwest (including Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas) and Mountain (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada) regions were more likely to say they have not applied to jobs due to perceived bias against women—50% in the North Midwest and 47% in the Mountain region compared to 38% overall.

C-suite women encounter greater headwinds

Drilling down into specific roles revealed even more gender bias among women in higher corporate ranks, especially during the interview process. 55% of women in the C-suite say they have gotten inappropriate questions in an interview and 58% of them have felt discriminated against in an interview. About 79% of founders and CEOs felt it was difficult to get promoted compared to 67% of women overall. However, more women (71%) in the C-suite reported having mentors, compared to 59% overall.

Boosting female participation in the workplace, and engagement in your company isn’t just good business, it could have a significant effect on the broader economy as well. According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, leveling up U.S. women’s participation would add $650 billion to annual GDP.

Women’s History Month offers an opportunity for companies to review their policies and culture—and ensure that both are supportive and inclusive of women. But to inspire real change, organizations need to prioritize women all year-round, giving them the support, tools, and environment they need to thrive at work. To learn more about how to inspire gender equity and inclusion in the workplace, download our latest white paper, “4 Ways to Inspire Inclusion in the Workplace This Women’s History Month."

Survey methodology: Online survey of 1,011 women on,, and, as well as email subscribers to The Muse and Fairygodboss conducted between 2/8/2024 and 2/20/2024.