Unwritten Rules for Women in the Workplace

Women are often subject to restrictions that don't apply to men.
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Women are governed by the same rules as men in the workplace, plus a set of unwritten rules that are implied and just as restrictive. Women have long dealt with less than equal treatment and pay, glass ceilings and a host of other limitations placed on their working lives. The workplace is not always fair for all involved, but when you know what to expect, you can be better prepared for issues that arise.

Double Standards

    Male workers tend to be rewarded for their efficiency and hard work with promotions and leadership roles. Women who excel at a given set of tasks are appreciated for their value in their role and are often kept in place as efficient cogs in the machine. Women who wish to rise through the ranks must make their intentions clear to superiors.

    Men and women are also treated differently when it comes to employee assessment and new hires. While an employer will review a man's resume and ask questions about prior positions, the responses will often be taken at face value. Women will often be questioned further to prove their skills and experience rather than accepting them as fact.


    Rules about appearance may be the most prevalent and well understood unspoken rules for women in the workplace. Everything from age to attractiveness to the clothes you wear plays a large role in the way you are treated at work and the path that your career may or may not take. To wear even modestly revealing outfits like sleeveless shirts or a basic skirt may invite the perception of appearing unprofessional. Keeping things buttoned up and wearing professional clothing can avoid any misconceptions and help you to fit in anywhere in the company.


    Mothers may be the victim of even more discriminatory practices than other women in the workplace. Mothers are often regarded as dedicated to their families first and their work second. This can negatively impact the benefits they receive, their consideration for promotions and raises, and their selection to high-profile projects. These factors can result in the stifling of a mother's career ambitions and the sabotaging of her value within the company. Rather than being assessed on abilities and accomplishments, mothers may be limited to a less significant role by managers who have a preconceived notion of what they can and will deliver.


    Women are sometimes lost in the shuffle of the workplace because they do not take charge and make their voices heard in the same way that a man would. Women often fail to apply for positions that are not completely within their realm of experience, while men are more likely to take the chance.

    This same tendency to be tentative can result in women being overlooked when it comes to the projects they complete, the accomplishments they achieve and the role they play in the overall business of the company. Women are also likely to be offered less salary than men with the same credentials.

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