Women have made some tremendous strides for gender equality in the workplace, but the closing gap doesn't necessarily mean women are where they want to be.
A survey released by Recruiter.com and the 1,000 Dreams Fund, a national women's scholarship program, discovered that many young women are unhappy in their careers because of difficult work environments.
"A growing number of companies say they want more diversity in their ranks, with more females in key leadership roles — that is the good news," Christie Garton, founder of the 1,000 Dreams Fund, said in a statement. "However, if young female employees aren't being properly supported in the early stages of their careers, they will seek other paths, like entrepreneurship."
According to the survey, these are the biggest challenges today's young women face in the workplace:
- Money. Fifty-eight percent of the women surveyed chose a college major to follow their dream — but dreams don't always pay the bills. Thirty-two percent would have or have taken a job they don't necessarily love for five years just to pay off college debt.
- Harassment. Twenty-one percent of respondents said they have been the victim of sexism in the workplace, and 20 percent have been the victim of workplace bullying, primarily from other women.
- Age. More than three-quarters of the women surveyed said that being too young has hindered their ability to get an interview or secure a job.
- Indecision and fear. More than 30 percent of the women polled did not know what they wanted to major in or what career path they wanted to take.
- Unpreparedness. Only 25 percent of those polled said they are "very confident" in their interviewing skills, while the other 75 percent said they feel they could benefit from some kind of interview training. Also, 57 percent said they update their resume only when they are on the hunt for a new job.
- Entrepreneurial dreams. Thirty-one percent of respondents consider their dream job to be working for themselves, instead of working for a company.
Garton said increasingly common stories of successful female entrepreneurs or other role models have likely inspired many women. However, she doesn't believe entrepreneurship should be an "opt out" option to escape poor workplace treatment. [See Related Story: Are Women Held to Higher Standards at Work? ]
"Unfortunately, based on our data and from some of the anecdotes we hear from the young women we work with, many become disillusioned early in their careers by some of these challenges that are prevalent in the workplace," Garton told Business News Daily.
"If young women continue to unfairly face challenges as a result of their age and gender in their careers, then employers will find it difficult to hire nearly anyone for their teams," added Miles Jennings, CEO and founder of Recruiter.com. "We need to change the conditions within which young women work, once and for all."
Garton knows firsthand how frustrating it can be to deal with these issues, especially when it feels like there is no one you can go to for help. But many potential mentors are out there, and she encouraged young women to seek them out.
"Align yourself with workplace mentors who can help you navigate the environment," Garton said. "They can, in turn, become some of your best advocates and help you deal with challenges they have likely seen, [or] even personally experienced, before."
The survey, conducted by Toluna QuickSurveys, was based on the responses of 1,050 U.S. women ages 18 to 35.