Business Forward Survey: Access to Birth Control, Paid Leave, Child Care Support Critical for Women’s Career Advancement

Business Forward has built a network of more than 100,000 business leaders across the country. We’ve worked hard to make sure that network is over half women. But why was it hard?

As the nation turns its eyes toward the real and problematic harassment women face in the workplace, employers across the country are trying to understand the challenges – workplace, systemic, legal – that make it harder for women than men to advance professionally. Sexual harassment is one serious problem, but women – if you ask them – will tell you: there’s more that’s not fair.

In response to this conversation, we conducted a survey of women in the workforce and asked them what obstacles have you faced in your career, and how does that compare to men?

Women overwhelmingly say it’s harder for them to get ahead than men. And there are clear reasons why.

Most of us have seen the data about the amount of caregiving and unpaid work women do, compared to their male counterparts. But what can be done to help?

“According to Business Forward’s recent survey of women in the workforce, the answer is clear,” said Business Forward President Jim Doyle. “Women’s advancement is directly linked to their ability to plan when to have a family, and access to paid family leave, affordable child care, and birth control is critical to helping women reach their professional goals.”

Policies like equal pay, paid family and medical leave, medical coverage for all women’s routine well-being check-ups, birth control coverage, and an increase in tax credits for child care all rank as priorities among women.

A majority of women say that it has been challenging for them to achieve their professional goals because the workplace is not structured to help them succeed. One-third say sexual harassment in the workplace has been an obstacle for them in reaching their professional goals. Women also think it is harder for women to achieve their professional goals than for men.

Among the women surveyed:

  • Being a parent makes balancing work and personal lives, securing a high-paying job, and pursuing professional and educational goals even more difficult with the lack of policies in place to support their overall well-being.
  • A strong majority (75 percent), especially executives (86 percent), say their professional success is linked to their ability to plan if and when to have children.
  • The survey also finds that 72 percent of women say birth control has been important in their ability to plan the size of their family, with 90 percent of executives saying it has been important.

How do these results match your experiences? Let us know by leaving a comment on Facebook.

About the Poll

This survey was conducted by GBA Strategies and Bellwether Research & Consulting. The poll surveyed 1,500 American women across age, race, professional status, educational attainment, geographic area, and political spectrum on their perspectives on the issues facing women in the workplace today.