Software Advice Blogs

82% women respondents struggle to decide between family and career

Published on 09/02/2023 by Ojasvini

Are women in the workplace treated equally when compared to male employees? Do they feel they are paid less than men for the same job profile? What should organisations do to create a more diverse and gender-equal workplace? We discuss answers to such questions in this first part of a two-part series.

Situation of men vs women in the workplace

Some women employees are not 100% satisfied with their current salary and even feel that they are compared to their male colleagues. These statistics are according to a recent Software Advice survey. Having said that, organisations might need to go beyond usual workplace practices to make a sustainable approach towards a gender-neutral and diverse environment.

To understand the overall situation of women in the workplace and the potential biases and barriers between male and female employees, Software Advice conducted an online survey gathering the participation of 996 respondents, out of which 460 identify as male and 536 identify as female participants. This article highlights different workplace scenarios, including employee satisfaction levels regarding salaries, the level of comfort in asking for a promotion, the salary distribution between men and women, and other such aspects. Our entire methodology can be found at the end of this article.

Highlights of the study:

  • A significant proportion (39%) of the respondents is moderately satisfied with their current salary
  • 44% of people who are not completely satisfied with their salary said that they don’t get paid enough for the work they’re doing
  • Majority think their companies are paying men and women equally
  • A combined total of 77% say they are asked to work more than other people doing the same job
  • More than 80% of female participants struggle to decide between family and career
  • Almost 60% of pregnant women feel concerned about their job

Satisfaction level of employees regarding current salary

To understand how satisfied respondents are with their current salary, we asked them to rate their satisfaction level on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being unsatisfied and 5 being highly satisfied). These are the different responses we got from both male and female respondents:

The greater part of the respondents are moderately satisfied with their current salary

The data clearly shows that among all the respondents, the significant proportion is moderately satisfied with their current salary, with 39% rating their satisfaction level ‘3’, 31% of them rating it ‘4’, and 10% rating it ‘5’. Interestingly, out of the overall 7% of respondents who said they are unsatisfied with their current salary, 10% of female respondents and only 4% of men respondents expressed this view. In addition, even the respondents who rated their satisfaction with a ‘4’ or ‘5’ included a higher proportion of male respondents and lower levels of female participants.

Reasons why some are not 100% satisfied with their salary

All the respondents (90%) except the ones who showed full satisfaction (10%) with their current salary were asked the reasons why they were not completely satisfied. The different answers we got are depicted in the chart below:

Reasons why some respondents are not 100% satisfied with their current salary

Among all the respondents who were asked this question, a significant proportion (44%) clearly said that ‘they don’t get paid enough for the work they’re doing’. With that being said, the potential reasons behind this dissatisfaction could include a failure to negotiate for a raise, fear of asking for too much, or sometimes not finding the appropriate time and place to bring up the topic of increments in conversations with their manager.

Salary distribution between male and female employees

Providing competitive compensation to employees could be one way to attract and retain organisational talent. To understand our participants' views on salary distribution, we asked them whether the equity of salary between men and women is respected in their current company. These are the responses we got:

Majority of the respondents feel that their companies are paying men and women equally

Interestingly, the overall 76% of respondents who showed a belief that their respective companies are paying men and women equally included 82% male and 70% female respondents. In addition, the overall 23% who think that women get paid less than men include 15% of male and 29% of female participants expressing this view, indicating that more women respondents believe that they are paid less than men in their company for the same job profile.

77% asked to work more than others in the same job position

To investigate the sentiments of both male and female respondents, we questioned them on how often they are asked to work more than others in the same job position. A combined total of 77% of our participants answered positively, with 37% saying they are ‘sometimes’ asked, 27% saying ‘often’ and 13% saying they are ‘always’ asked to work more than their counterparts.

Among the other responses to the above question, 15% of the participants said they are 'rarely' asked to work more, and the remaining 9% answered with 'never'. Having said that, organisations should ideally make sure to distribute work equally for employees in the same job position and prioritise their employees' mental health needs.

What can organisations do to support better work-life balance for their employees?

The following things could potentially be implemented to maintain a healthy work-life balance:

  • Delegating work responsibilities equally among all the team members
  • Providing the benefit of working flexible hours
  • Giving more recognition, appreciation, and even bonuses to the achievers as well as encouragement and coaching for underperformers
  • Working with the employees on their individual development and growth
  • Consider granting synchronous breaks, where the entire team shuts off for a specific time period and comes back to work with more energy and enthusiasm

Majority of women struggle with deciding between family and career

Are women getting discriminated against or facing biases in the work environment? On the topic of men vs. women in the workplace, we specifically asked questions to our female participants. We asked female respondents whether they think women nowadays struggle with deciding between having a family and career. To this, a combined total of 82% said ‘yes’ —out of which 42% said that ‘a lot of women struggle to make this decision’ and 40% said that ‘a few women struggle to make this decision’. An important point to note is that only 12% of the respondents answered with a ‘no’.

Majority of women respondents struggle to decide between family and career

Some women feel they are compared to male colleagues

On the next question of how often female participants feel they are compared to their male colleagues in their current job, we got the following results:

  • 33% of the respondents said that they are ‘never’ compared to their male colleagues
  • 29% of them answered with ‘rarely’
  • 24% of the female survey takers said that they are ‘sometimes’ compared
  • 11% of them answered with ‘often’, and the remaining 4% said that they are ‘very frequently’ compared to their male colleagues in their current workplace

Did you know?

According to Australia’s anti-discrimination law, ‘it is unlawful to discriminate on the basis of a number of protected attributes including age, disability, race, sex, intersex status, gender identity and sexual orientation in certain areas of public life, including education and employment’. 

Keeping this in mind, organisations can ensure that their current workplace policies are compliant with the law with the help of appropriate HR software and recruitment software. Such tools can potentially help employers conduct interviewing and onboarding processes fairly and meet other legal regulations if any.

More than half say their companies don’t organise events for gender equality

Organisations should create awareness about workplace equality to ensure that the employees are not facing any kind of discrimination. On that note, we asked the female participants whether their current company organises events/actions/programs to promote gender equality. To this, the majority of the survey participants (54%) answered with ‘no’. 

In addition to this, we also asked our female respondents whether there is an employee resource group for women at work/gender equality/inclusion at their current workplace. Yet again, the majority of the respondents (56%) said ‘no’, clearly stating that their organisation does not have any such resource group.

Nearly 3 out of 5 pregnant women feel concerned about their job

Out of all the 996 survey participants, we had 211 female respondents who live with children under the age of 18. Among these women, the majority (70%), were working in a company when they got pregnant. To understand the situation of these working women during their pregnancy, and whether they were assisted by their company or not, we asked a certain set of questions. 

We asked whether the abovementioned set of respondents were concerned about their job when they got to know about their pregnancy. A combined total of 59% of them said that they were concerned about their job, with 38% saying that ‘they were a little bit concerned’ and 20% saying ‘they were very concerned’.

What kind of support did pregnant working women receive?

Delving deeper into understanding whether the subset of female respondents mentioned above were given any support by their company, we asked them to choose the kind of support they received after sharing their pregnancy news. Here are the different answers we got:

Kind of support received by pregnant working women from their companies

50% feel they’re more likely to be overlooked for promotion

Coming back to the part of equality and fair opportunities for all, we asked those women respondents who were working in a company when they got pregnant to show their agreement or disagreement with the statement: ‘I'm more likely to be overlooked for promotion opportunities’.

A combined total of 50% of the participants agreed with the above statement, with 40% somewhat and 10% strongly agreeing with it. In addition to this, a combined total of 60% also agreed that ‘the combination of my workload and parental obligations are creating a mental load’. Along with that, a combined total of 45% of these women also said they’re more likely to be left out of projects because their colleagues assume they’re already too busy.

As it turns out, a proportion of these respondents were not only concerned about their job during their pregnancies but also felt that they might not get a promotion or were more likely to be left out of projects.

Best practices to promote gender equality at work

As per the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, Australia, ‘achieving gender equality is important for workplaces not only because it is ‘fair’ and ‘the right thing to do,’ but because it is also linked to a country’s overall economic performance’. Considering all the data points we observed in our survey results, organisations should ideally focus on building a more gender-neutral workplace. Some ways to achieve this goal could be:

  • Organising gender equality awareness sessions during onboarding: companies should ideally conduct training sessions to create employee awareness regarding gender equality. 
  • Offering equal opportunities to men and women employees: organisations should consider both men and women while choosing leadership roles. In addition, they should offer fair work opportunities to all. 
  • Focusing on diversity during the hiring process: companies should ideally consider focusing on people with diverse backgrounds while hiring. 
  • Building fair and transparent compensation and promotion policies: workplaces should have equal pay and fair opportunities for work of equal or comparable value. 
  • Implementing employee benefit programs and offering flexibility: companies can consider providing employees with benefits such as health insurance, retirement benefits, and paid time off. In addition, they should provide the employees with a flexible work environment and ensure that everyone has equal access to developmental and promotional opportunities.  
  • Laying down strict policies for workplace harassment: every company should have a strict policy against workplace harassment. Any kind of harassment and discrimination should be considered entirely unacceptable, and strict actions should be taken when such incidents arise.

What’s coming next?

In the second part of this two-part article series, we will attempt to find answers to the following questions:

  • Are employees comfortable asking their managers for a promotion?
  • Have they received a promotion in their current job?
  • Is their family planning influenced by their work?
  • Are they asked to do things outside their job description?
  • Are their companies following a hybrid work model?
  • How difficult do employees with children find it to balance child-related responsibilities with work responsibilities, and more such questions.

Looking for HR software? Check out our catalogue!


To collect data for this report, Software Advice conducted an online survey from 22 December 2022 to 4 January 2023 in the following countries: Australia (996 respondents, including 460 male and 536 female participants), Canada (982 respondents, including 481 male and 501 female participants), Germany (994 in total including 515 male and 479 female respondents), France (1,013 total participants, including 514 male and 499 female survey takers), Italy (996 in total including 513 male and 483 female participants), and the UK (1,001 total respondents, including 486 male and 515 female participants). The selection criteria for participants were as follows:

  • Resident in Australia, Canada, Germany, France, Italy and the UK
  • Over 18 and below 65 years old
  • Either employed full-time/part-time or on a maternity/paternity leave
  • Has organisational seniority level above intern
  • Identifies as either male or female
  • Has a temporary or permanent (either full-time or part-time) workplace contract

This article may refer to products, programs or services that are not available in your country, or that may be restricted under the laws or regulations of your country. We suggest that you consult the software provider directly for information regarding product availability and compliance with local laws.

About the author

Ojasvini is a content analyst for Software Advic. She shares insights about software technologies critical to SMEs. Inspired by growing tech trends and how these help SMEs to grow.

Ojasvini is a content analyst for Software Advic. She shares insights about software technologies critical to SMEs. Inspired by growing tech trends and how these help SMEs to grow.