When Women Choose A Back Seat in Career Path | Why?
It turns out, more women are focusing on the Life Track, too. Someone shared survey results that about 43% of women surveyed say they are less ambitious now than they were 10 years ago; only 25 percent of women are working towards their next promotion. Now, these are women age 35-60, and it would be interesting to see what the 25-35 group would say.
65 percent of college-educated women nationwide prefer to have more free time in their lives than make more money at their jobs. In fact, 40 percent would even take a pay cut for more flexibility.
“Since the 1970’s women have poured into the American workplace - and now we’re at a crossroads,” says More magazine Editor in Chief, Lesley Jane Seymour. “Stymied by our efforts for advancement and confused about how to manage our personal life and a promising career, today’s career-minded women are sacrificing ambition for balance.”
Is it really a sacrifice? Or more like a compromise? I feel that as the dynamics of the workplace change, that as people strive to grow meaningful relationships with their families, this is an effort for employees to say: Let me be present in my family's life, and then I can be present in my job without distraction. It's not that easy, though
With today’s weak economy and high unemployment rate, 33 percent of women believe it’s career suicide to ask for more flexibility at work. Given the demand structure of today’s workplace, 92 percent of women value workplace flexibility, which is up markedly from 2 years ago (73%).
Almost a decade ago, the writer Linda Hirshman exhorted ambitious women to marry men with less money or social capital than they had. In articles and her book, Get to Work, she told women that they should avoid ever taking on more than half of the housework or child care. How to do it? Either marry a man who is extremely committed to equality, or do what she says is the easier route and “marry down.” Hirshman explained in the American Prospect that such a choice is not “brutally strategic,” it’s just smart. “If you are devoted to your career goals and would like a man who will support that, you're just doing what men throughout the ages have done: placing a safe bet.
This was a highly controversial piece of advice at the time, but Hirshman might have been right. A new study of Harvard Business School graduates from HBS’s Robin Ely and Colleen Ammerman and Hunter College sociologist Pamela Stone shows that high-achieving women are not meeting the career goals they set for themselves in their 20s. It’s not because they’re “opting out” of the workforce when they have kids, but because they’re allowing their partners’ careers to take precedence over their own.
The study’s authors interviewed 25,000 men and women who graduated from Harvard Business School over the past several decades. The male graduates were much more likely to be in senior management positions and have more responsibility and more direct reports than their female peers. But why? It’s not because women are leaving the workforce en masse. The authors found, definitively, that the “opt-out” explanation is a myth. Among Gen X and baby boomers they surveyed, only 11 percent of women left the workforce to be full-time moms. That figure is lower for women of color—only 7 percent stopped working. The vast majority (74 percent) of Gen Xers, women who are currently 32-48 and in the prime of their child-rearing years, work full time, an average of 52 hours a week.
But while these women are still working, they are also making more unexpected sacrifices than their male classmates are. When they graduated, more than half of male HBS grads said they expected their careers would take precedence over their partners’. Only 7 percent of Gen X women and 3 percent of baby boomer women said they expected their careers to take precedence. Here’s what they did expect: The majority of women said they assumed they would have egalitarian marriages in which both spouses’ careers were taken equally seriously.
A lot of those women were wrong. About 40 percent of Gen X and boomer women said their spouses’ careers took priority over theirs, while only about 20 percent of them had planned on their careers taking a back seat. Compare that with the men: More than 70 percent of Gen X and boomer men say their careers are more important than their wives’. When you look at child care responsibilities, the numbers are starker. A full 86 percent of Gen X and boomer men said their wives take primary responsibility for child care, and the women agree: 65 percent of Gen X women and 72 percent of boomer women—all HBS grads, most of whom work—say they’re the ones who do most of the child care in their relationships
Of course, marital arrangements aren’t the only force holding women back. Part of the reason these women aren’t advancing at the same rate as their male counterparts is that after they have kids, they get “mommy-tracked.” In many ways, they’re not considered management candidates anymore. “They may have been stigmatized for taking advantage of flex options or reduced schedules, passed over for high-profile assignments, or removed from projects they once led,” the authors note. Other studies support these findings, as they have shown that there is a real, substantial motherhood penalty that involves lower pay and fewer promotions for women with kids, because employers assume they will be less dedicated to their jobs (as do, we now know, their husbands).
Based on these numbers, Hirshman suddenly seems prescient. Take a look at the current crop of female CEOs: A lot of them have husbands who don’t work. Xerox CEO Ursula Burns took a page out of Hirshman’s book and joked at a 2013 conference, “The secret [to success] is to marry someone 20 years older.” Her husband retired as she was hitting her career stride, allowing him to take primary responsibility for their kids. If becoming a CEO and having a family is what you desire, you might want to take that advice.
But apart from talks of individual, the data and trend gives a indication towards what woman is looking for as a change in work culture, and family task sharing, being an equal contributor to the mankind. Not sure how much will things improve in this profit and cost oriented world, but its an area which needs sincere attention to improve. Else this may lead lack of interest in parenting...So not only corporate, governments are also required a sustainable improvement in this regard.
Courtesy: Jessica Grose / slate.com & Emily Jasper/Forbes.com
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