How Gender Can Affect Your Career Progress in Specific Fields

Written by Benny Koteeni

Gender is a social construct that depicts the characteristics of women, men, boys, and girls. 

It includes societal norms, roles, and behaviors associated with a particular gender. It varies from society to society and is subject to change over time.

Gender creates a barrier in specific career fields which intentionally and sometimes unintentionally excludes a particular gender, thereby limiting the progress of that particular gender and advancing the progress of the other. 

It is practically impossible to discuss gender-related issues without conceding how much the female gender is affected chiefly. 

Still, there are also instances where we see gender forming a barrier to the career progress of the members of the male gender in specific fields. 

This article focuses on discussing how gender can affect your career progress in specific fields with these key points below:

Gender influences a wide range of career-related attitudes, behaviors, and outcomes.

1 Career Choice 

The first step of selecting your career is undoubtedly one of the early stages where you begin to notice how much influence gender could have on your desired career path. 

In uncovering the necessary information about what a career encompasses, you discover the gender imbalance in various sectors. 

For instance, women are more likely to be hired into staff positions and have less access to line experience, which is often a stepping stone to higher-level management positions. 

The male gender dominates various sectors, and a female aspiring to be a part of that field might be discouraged when the odds of her success or progress in that work environment are slim. 

For instance, in politics; bearing in mind that gender as a social construct varies from society to society and is subject to change, we can agree that it is one of the fields dominated by men. 

Still, we’re witnessing it in recent times in the process of evolution, with women occupying positions that they were never obliged to in the past, with plausible progress recorded in some societies and others moving slower. 

Politics is one of the career fields tremendously influenced by gender, which affects individuals’ career progress. 

Other career fields where gender could affect career progress include; the male-dominated engineering sector, and the female-dominated health care sector with career options such as nursing, pharmacy, pathology, e.t.c. 

Research shows that people are more likely to select a career where the success rate for their gender is considered higher. 

Some people might not consider working in a particular industry because of how difficult it might be for their gender to progress or achieve career goals in that field.

2 Perceptions

Men and women are naturally treated differently regarding expectations and held to different societal standards. 

It is due to gender roles, with women expected to be more nurturing and sensitive, and men expected to be more direct and assertive. These qualities can affect an individual’s progress in a specific career field. 

The exclusion of women from occupying higher-level positions is the perception that the work might be too demanding or the woman does not possess the qualities required to handle such responsibilities. 

There are other instances where we observe the exclusion of the male gender from job positions because of suitability associated with gender expectations. 

It has become a pattern in the educational field to exclude men from jobs that require handling little children in pre-school or the nursery section because women are perceived to have qualities suitable for the job naturally. 

Men are presumably incapable of handling such responsibilities and are viewed as possible perpetrators of sexual molestation because they are “men.” 

Situations like this can be a barrier to career progress as your gender overshadows your qualification or skill set, influencing career decisions and career opportunities.

3 Career Experiences 

The duration of an individual’s employment in an organization to get the experience of a particular type of job provides organizational and individual benefits.

It could be in the form of new opportunities to gain new skills perspectives and diversify thinking, increased ability to meet future talent gaps while simultaneously driving career growth. 

These experiences are termed career experiences which play an essential role in replacing the traditional vertical trajectories of progressing in a work environment, usually set as following a prescribed path from manager to director to VP to senior VP, etc.

Times are changing, and career experiences increasingly become the basis for career progression. Since men and women have different career experiences, most women are limited from participating in this series of essential exercises that guarantee career progress. 

More opportunities are given to men to perform specific tasks such as stretch assignments, job rotations, fieldwork, and gigs, which enables them to acquire more valuable skills and become more marketable in their various fields.                               

In simpler terms, the gender of an individual affects the career experience they might be suitable to receive in specific career fields, and these experiences are increasingly becoming the basis on which people will be evaluated in the work environment. 

If your career experience is affected by your gender identity and what positions are deemed suitable for you because of your gender, it could affect your career progress.

4 Work-Family Conflict

It is widespread to observe a rising conflict between managing a career and the family. 

It affects people, but gender is at a pivoting point which dictates how it affects men and women differently. 

It is more likely to see situations where women experience career interruptions and gaps in employment due to family-related issues such as childbirth, trailing a partner due to the geographical location of his job, and in some cases assuming the role of a stay-at-home mom because your partner makes a fair amount of money. 

Interruptions like this can slow down your career progress. On the other hand, men are more likely to turn down jobs that do not offer high pay or social security due to fending for their own family’s needs, as in most societies. 

Research shows that men are more likely to attain career progress in marriages, achieve career goals, and work satisfaction. 

In contrast, women will usually find it more challenging to climb the career ladder due to family responsibilities.

5 Sexism and Discrimination 

This is a situation where an individual is treated more favorably or harshly because of their gender. 

Stereotyping and prejudice usually against women are common occurrences in workplaces. 

Irrespective of your qualifications, your gender can determine if you are hired for a job or not; it can also influence your chances of being considered for higher positions or performing higher tasks. 

Discrimination is an adverse effect of perceptions of gender-based on their assumed capabilities and suitability for a job. 

Women are more likely to deal with unwanted advances or sexual favors for promotions, paid less, evaluated more harshly, sexually harassed, and passed over for promotion because of their gender.

Now that you know how gender can affect your career progress in certain fields, your next question is what to do if you find yourself in that situation. 

Here are a few tips to guide you;

1 Be Conversant With Your Employer’s Policies

Your employment manual or handbook should contain your organization’s policies on the steps to resolve issues concerning discrimination or harassment or the HR’s (Human Resources) contact details. 

As an employee, it is essential to know your rights. You are entitled to a safe work environment and policies that protect your interests. 

2 Keep Proof

It is necessary to have a detailed report or evidence of these experiences in writing, saved messages, audio, or visual recordings. 

It assures backup claims and also facilitates the resolution of the abnormalities.

3 Report Complaints to Proper Authorities 

When you notice inappropriate behaviors or discrimination targeted against you, complain to the appropriate authorities, your HR, or your boss.

4 Speak to a Lawyer

If your complaints are not addressed or adequately handled, or if the higher authorities in your organization are the perpetrators of these discriminations, it is advisable to seek legal advice. 

Note that gender discrimination is considered illegal. 

This will guarantee the resolution of your case, create awareness of these challenges, and encourage a healthy work environment for gender equality to thrive.


Your career progress in specific fields can be affected due to gender. Gender as a social construct initiates ideas that attempt to create a pattern or identity around the male and female gender. 

It suggests the behavioral characteristics of both groups. This dictates how they are expected to act and what both groups expect regarding roles, capabilities, and expectations. 

 Both genders have different social experiences, and this influences their career choice, everyone seeking to be in a field with higher success rates or an environment where their achievements can be acknowledged

Being that both genders are treated differently, this could affect their progress in certain fields as a particular gender dominates some careers, and the other has to suffer being a minority. 

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