Pandemic Silver Linings for Women at Work
There’s always a silver lining! It turns out that, in addition to the well-documented well-being, flexibility and productivity benefits of remote and hybrid working, new workplace conventions are set to deliver another unexpected advantage to the working population.
In an essay for The Wall Street Journal’s Year in Review report, Harvard University economics professor, Claudia Gold, argues that the pandemic could lead to less gender inequality at work and more equity at home. She says that last year’s lockdowns sparked both a rethinking of where work physically takes place and of issues relating to employees’ work/life balance.
Here’s why Dr. Gold considers that such attitudinal resets will have a positive impact on equality matters at work and at home:
– Among working couples with children, mothers generally assume flexible positions so that they can weave planned and unexpected non-work related matters into the working week. Traditionally, fathers have jobs that require them being constantly ‘on call’ for work during (and often beyond) their working day. Dr. Gold refers to jobs that fall into the second category as ‘greedy’ jobs.
– When more mothers choose flexible jobs that pay less, and more fathers are in ‘greedy’ jobs that pay more, the result is gender inequality in pay, and couple inequity at home. Both parties lose out.
– Since the pandemic hit, previously ‘greedy’ jobs have become more flexible, and previously flexible jobs have become more productive, As a result, the difference between the wages of both categories is expected to narrow.
Clearly, this is good news for our pockets. Happily, it’s also expected to help even out the differences between men and women with care-giving responsibilities. While Dr Gold’s tone is optimistic, she also warns of the dangers of inadvertently creating a work-from-home female enclave. That, dear reader, is a whole other matter and one that hopefully won’t ever become a reality..
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