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Invisible Struggle: The Unspoken Reality of Women's Effort at Work



The idea for this article comes from a chat in a women’s network, where we’re shining a light on a shared challenge faced by both cisgender and transgender women. Transgender women bring a unique viewpoint, adding depth to discussions about gender-related challenges. The main focus here is on how effort is seen in the context of gender dynamics.


In my study, looking at times before and after my gender transition, I noticed something interesting. To keep the perception of effort consistent while doing the same tasks, I found a significant change. When in a male role, people thought the effort was about 60%, but in a female role, it had to be nearly 150% to get a similar response from peers and bosses.


Digging into this topic, the research looks at different areas, such as how effort is seen in education and work, physical tasks, and more. Gender stereotypes and societal expectations affect how effort is seen. Exploring how these ideas contribute to differences in leadership roles is essential. Dealing with these issues is crucial for creating fair and inclusive workplaces.


Research consistently shows differences in how effort is seen, especially for women. Studies highlight that women’s work might be undervalued or overlooked, making them feel like they must put in more effort in the workplace.


This difference doesn’t just affect job growth; it also impacts the well-being of women. With higher expectations and many roles to juggle, women can be more at risk of burnout. Recognising and dealing with these challenges is essential for building a work culture that values and supports everyone.


When pushing for gender equality, it’s vital to address these detailed issues and work towards making places that appreciate everyone’s efforts, regardless of gender. Many studies have looked into how effort is seen between genders, exploring different aspects:


1. Effort Attribution:

- Studies show a tendency to underestimate women’s effort, thinking their success is due to luck or talent while attributing men’s success to hard work and skill.


2. Effort Perception in Tasks:

- Research proves that people see men and women differently in similar tasks, influenced by gender stereotypes and social power.


3. Self-perception of Effort:

- Both men and women might not see their efforts accurately because of societal expectations and ingrained ideas about gender.


4. Methodological Challenges:

- Figuring out how effort is seen is tricky because many things besides gender can influence it, making it hard to get clear answers.


Research findings are generalisations and might not be true for everyone. We need to consider cultural and social contexts that affect how people see effort. Underestimating women’s efforts is common, but the whole situation is complex and needs careful thought about different factors and how they interact.


 

With over 25 years of dedicated leadership in the corporate, feminist, and LGBTQ+ realms, with a profound commitment to LGBTQ+ and women’s rights, I’m thrilled to be recognised by the British Diversity Awards. I stand ready to support, consult, educate, and advise on your next diversity challenge. Your journey towards inclusivity begins with a conversation. Reach out to me at cynthiafortlage@cynthiafortlage.com with any inquiries.

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