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The Hierarchy of Needs of Professional Women 

The Hierarchy of Needs of Professional Women 

The concept of the hierarchy of needs that Abraham Maslow developed in the 40s is still considered an integral part of most managerial training. It is a motivational theory of psychology and is often represented as a five-tier pyramid coinciding with the five stages of human development. This Pyramid of Needs has stood the test of time, and from creating team motivation techniques to building strategies for project management, this model has always come in handy. In this article, we will try to apply the same theory to develop strategies and techniques that might help professional women in their careers. 

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs 

At the bottom of this five-tier pyramid structure lies the physiological survival elements like food, water, and sleep. Safety or security forms the next level and comprises needs like shelter, employment, and health. At the next level, human beings require a sense of belonging like family, friendship, and physical intimacy. At the fourth level lies esteem. Human beings need confidence, self-esteem, and recognition. Finally, at the top of this pyramid structure is self-actualization, where morality, creativity, and acceptance of facts lie.  

Hierarchy of Needs of Women at Work  

To understand the hierarchy of needs in the context of professional women in the workplace, we must make a few changes to the five-tier pyramid structure. While life should be understood as a career, death must be considered resignation in this context. Let us look at the various stages of this pyramid and understand the hierarchy of needs of professional women.

The most fundamental need for any woman at work is security. While women must be provided with a safe working environment, female employees must also have protection from any kind of harassment in the workplace. Therefore, 'Sanctity of the Body' lies at the bottom of this structure.

At the next level, 'Security' is replaced by 'Job Safety or Functional Integrity'. Women at work must feel secure and should neither be belittled nor ridiculed and must be allowed to perform all such tasks that they were hired for.  

The third is 'Social Acceptance' in the workplace or in the team.  Any team they are part of must treat them well. This includes fair treatment, no discrimination, and the same opportunities as their male counterparts.  

In the fourth level of this structure, 'Esteem' is swapped with the 'Sanctity of the Self'.' This is achieved when a woman can achieve her career goals without compromising her femininity.  

Finally, at the top of this five-tier structure, 'Self-Actualization' is replaced with 'Total Fulfillment'. This happens when a female employee realizes she did not attain her present position due to random chance. She realizes that she has become an accomplished professional and can act as a role model and inspire other women by sharing her knowledge and experience. 

Read Also: 5 Ways to Learn How to Value Yourself

Let us analyze each of these levels individually.  

Sanctity of the Body 

There are two scenarios through which we can analyze the 'sanctity of the body' needs of women professionals.   

Failed Scenario 

Amy chooses her ugliest clothes so that she does not attract attention from her male colleagues. She is hesitant about reporting any incident of sexual harassment because she knows she will not find any support or may even get fired. Finally, she decides to quit her job and goes into a state of depression.   

Desired Outcome 

Amy is not scared about going to work as she has no fear of being treated like a sexual object. She is confident that her company will not tolerate indecency of any kind, and it gives her a sense of security. She feels protected even when alone with a colleague or the boss.  

Job Safety and Functional Integrity  

There are two scenarios through which we can analyze this level of need in women professionals.   

Failed Scenario 

Nina keeps questioning herself about the reason she was hired. She is never allowed to prove herself, and this has frustrated her. Her self-confidence is often undermined by comments she faces from her colleagues, and soon enough, she starts to normalize this kind of behavior.   

Desired Outcome 

Nina is never asked to get coffee, organize meetings, or perform any kind of mundane tasks that result from gender biases. She gets the opportunity to do everything that she was hired to do. She is aware that she was hired for her skillset and not for her looks.   

Social Acceptance 

There are two scenarios through which we can analyze the 'social acceptance' need of professional women.   

Failed Scenario 

Monica finds her job interesting but feels her boss is not concerned about her feedback. Despite doing well, she keeps doubting her abilities. She thinks she can achieve more but is never given enough opportunities, and her assertiveness is received as aggressive behavior. She is reprimanded for making mistakes that are considered acceptable when committed by her male colleagues.  

Desired Outcome 

Monica never feels that she is discriminated against. She is subjected to the same standards and offered similar opportunities as her male colleagues. She is confident that her career progression will not be affected because of her gender. Her focus is on her strengths rather than on closing the gender gaps.  

Sanctity of the Self 

There are two scenarios through which we can analyze the 'sanctity of the self' need of women professionals.   

Failed Scenario 

Susan is doing well at her job, and her manager acknowledges her work. However, she feels that to get to the next level, she needs to adapt to such traits that do not come naturally to her. Since she cannot find a woman role model, she starts imitating a male figure of authority and, in the process, loses her uniqueness. Even if she reaches the executive level, she will never be able to bring her individuality to the company. 

Desired Outcome 

Susan's manager gives her enough room to perform her tasks while retaining her femininity. Her manager acknowledges that she has a different way of thinking and working. Susan also started identifying cases where her feminine creativity and communication style helped her overcome challenges.  

Read Also: How To Be the Best Version of Yourself? 

Total Fulfillment 

There are two scenarios through which we can analyze the need for 'total fulfillment' in women professionals.   

Failed Scenario 

Tanya is an accomplished professional and someone who built her career by dint of her abilities. However, her environment is restrictive and does not let her use her knowledge and experience to inspire other women. She is made to feel that she was lucky to meet the right people at the right time and, therefore, is not suitable to be recognized as a role model.  

Desired Outcome 

Tanya has achieved her full potential without compromising on her femininity. Her company uses her point of view and helps her grow by making the best use of her strengths. Due to this, she is full of confidence and can mentor other women.  

Managers and leaders must understand their role and help female employees navigate the different stages of this pyramid. By empowering women to self-actualize and helping them reach the total fulfillment stage, companies have a realistic chance to close the gender gap. Such women act as role models for others and become agents of long-lasting cultural changes. Apart from possessing the right skills, such females are also motivated to take their company to a place where other women can succeed. 

The Editorial Team

The Editorial Team

Hi there, we're the editorial team at WomELLE. We offer resources for business and career success, promote early education and development, and create a supportive environment for women. Our magazine, "WomLEAD," is here to help you thrive both professionally and personally.

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