9 Recent Changes for Women in the Workplace — And One Thing That’s Stayed the Same

The 'fempire' hasn’t quite taken over the workplace, but recent laws and trends are making a difference.

By Laura Lambert,

California Made It Illegal to Ask About Salary History

Why does salary history matter? Well, when women typically make about 80 cents on the dollar compared to men, using salary history to guide future compensation simply perpetuates the problem. The work should define the pay. California joins Connecticut, Hawaii and eight other states in what we can only hope is a sign of progress.

In California, Women Must Be on Board

The board of the company, that is. By the end of this year, all California-headquartered public companies — ahem, Silicon Valley — must have at least one woman on its board of directors. California is the first state to do this, and New Jersey is close behind.

Minimum Wage Has Increased in Cities and States Across the Country

Why does this matter? The majority of minimum wage workers in the U.S. are women — up to 75% in some states.

In Massachusetts, Equal Pay Is the Law of the Land

Since mid-2018, Massachusetts employers aren’t allowed to pay women less for the same job. That goes for almost all jobs, aside from teenage babysitters and agricultural workers. Other states have similar laws, but Massachusetts’ is considered the strongest to date.

Free Tampons

Not necessarily on par with equal pay, but “menstrual equity” is having a moment — not just in #tampontax legislation around the country but also in the increased prevalence of free tampons and pads in the workplace, on campuses and in schools.

Women-Owned Businesses Are Booming

Although the overall numbers are still dismal, there are two things to consider: The gender lending gap for small businesses is getting narrower; and while women-owned startups average about $1 million less in funding, they produce double the revenue. Talk about doing more with less.


The #MeToo movement is what brought on the slew of new gender- and sexual-harassment laws in California. It’s also a cultural shift that affects women and men alike in the workplace every day. A special report by NBC News found that women are feeling more empowered to call out misbehavior, while men are more self-conscious, even afraid, of anything that might look like bad behavior. The report also found a lot of gray in between. Clearly, we’re still figuring it out.

Better Sexual Harassment Laws

Again, California FTW. Senate Bill No. 1300, effective since January 1, 2019, makes it easier for employees to bring sexual harassment claims.

No More Hiding Behind NDAs

Part of what enabled the likes of Harvey Weinstein was the prevalence of nondisclosure agreements (NDAs). Now, in California, you can have an NDA, but it cannot, in the words of Fast Company, “prevent the disclosure of information related to civil or administrative complaints of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and workplace sexual discrimination.” So there.

And Yet ...

Despite it all, the gender pay gap persists. And the implications are huge — a woman stands to miss out on more than $400,000 over the course of her career.


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Career Magazine: 9 Recent Changes for Women in the Workplace — And One Thing That’s Stayed the Same
9 Recent Changes for Women in the Workplace — And One Thing That’s Stayed the Same
The 'fempire' hasn’t quite taken over the workplace, but recent laws and trends are making a difference.
Career Magazine
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