3 Reasons Why Women Are Losing Out on Promotions During the Pandemic

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine2.3k

According to a study by Frontiers in Psychology, women must demonstrate performance, while men need only show potential for promotions in the workplace.

Why is this the case? Even before the pandemic, women were not being treated fairly by employers. We all know about the gender pay gap, which remains a constant. And women too frequently lose out on promotions, despite being as qualified or more so than men.

During the pandemic, this problem has only been exacerbated.

Why are so many women being held back in their careers?

1. Lack of confidence

In an early 2021 Fishbowl survey, 63% of respondents said they had avoided asking for raises in light of pandemic-related changes and challenges. The kicker? Women said this at a much higher rate than men did. 

And it’s not just limited to asking for promotions. Women are less likely than men to apply for a position if they don’t satisfy all the requirements in a job listing, an abundance of research shows. Moreover, they tend to negotiate less, too.

2. The disproportionate effect of the pandemic on women

Lean In and McKinsey & Company’s 2020 Women in the Workplace report reveals that 25% of women were considering downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce entirely in the early pandemic. Working mothers were also three times as likely as working fathers to be responsible for caregiving and household tasks, putting in an additional 3+ hours per day on these tasks.

Additional research in the Journal of Applied Psychology finds that couples resumed “traditional gender roles,” with women handling most or all childcare responsibilities following the onset of the pandemic.

3. Unconscious bias

Unconscious bias, of course, continues to play a role in hiring, firing, and promotional activities. While some organizations have instituted initiatives and measures like unconscious bias training, too frequently, these measures fall short in countering the effects of long-held stigmas and assumptions. Organizations must invest more heavily in combatting conscious and unconscious bias, underscoring the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

Whatever the cause, it’s clear that women’s advancement in the workplace is everyone’s responsibility. Employers, male allies, and women professionals must make a conscious effort to ensure that women are actively seeking out and receiving the opportunities. As well as being recognized for their talents at the same rates as their male counterparts.


This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance editor and writer based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab-mix Hercules. She primarily focuses on education, technology, and career development. She has worked with Penguin Random House, Fairygodboss, CollegeVine, BairesDev, and many other publications and organizations. Her humorous writing has appeared in the Weekly Humorist, Slackjaw, Little Old Lady Comedy, Flexx Magazine, Points in Case, Jane Austen's Wastebasket, and Greener Pastures. She also writes fiction and essays, which have appeared in publications including The Memoirist and The Avalon Literary Review. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.