Divorce, the wage gap, and household labor? What?

By Eliana Huffman

What if the way gender is performed in your marriage affects things like how much money you make? And what if your culture affects this even further? Researcher Lynn Prince Cooke sought to answer this question in regards to how couples split household labor in the United States compared to Germany, two different countries and cultures, and how this split affected the wage gap.

The results were pretty surprising. In the United States, equally shared household labor between husbands and wives increased female partners’ salaries, and led to lower chances of divorce. In Germany, however, the women’s salaries were also increased, but they experienced greater chances of divorce.

giphy

What Cooke boiled it down to was this: in most cultures, men are prescribed the role of economic production (i.e. “breadwinning) in a relationship with a female partner. Women are prescribed the role of domestic (re)production, an equally important task yet one that is often shunned for being “women’s work.”

“Women’s continued responsibility for the domestic sphere inhibits their ability to attain employment equality with men (Ferree 1990; Hartmann 1981; Hobson 1990). So as an interlocking system, the gendered nature of both paid and unpaid work blocks the ability to achieve gender equality in either domain (Ferree 1990, p. 874).”

While many people believe Europeans to be far more liberal than Americans, Cooke found through analyzing longitudinal survey and interview data from the German and United States governments that in West Germany people believed much more strongly in certain genders being assigned certain household tasks, and Germany’s increasing divorce rates are more likely a result of men resenting the change in power dynamic between genders—rather than actual familial issues caused by women doing less housework and men doing more. In fact, the data said families were equally attended to regardless of who took care of these tasks.

Take that, people who think women who work are abandoning their families.

giphy1

Germany’s social policies still stem from a post-WWII era where having a male breadwinner was extremely idealized, and its culture still surprisingly reflects that. The United States, in contrast, has a longer standing history of allowing women more equal opportunity to achieve the status men do in a professional context—other cultural norms may contradict the ability for women to achieve success, but our policies take a more hands-off approach to the issue entirely.

Is the solution to address outdated policies that affect women decades later? For sure. But there are many solutions to this problem, and it is a truly a big problem indeed—divorcing your life partner is not only expensive, but upsetting, painful and just plain messy.

One big solution that we can all take on a personal level is to talk out issues of resentment and labor expectations with our partners, and come to that conversation with the knowledge that more work at home means more money in the back for you both.

Another is to only pick partners that are down to share the workload equally in the first place. Choosing to share a life with someone who you know is already on the same page in this regard is a much less frustrating alternative than having to actively work through a problem that could be potentially avoided.

Lastly, of course, be sure to praise men and couples who you see actively working towards this egalitarian goal when you can. Validation is often so meaningful to people, and dishing it out can be good for both an individual relationship as well as society at large.

Women’s politeness: it’s a strategy, not a lifestyle

By Lauren Thatcher

Do you feel that? That’s the tension between professional assertiveness and gender-appropriate politeness for women.

According to Tessa M Pfafman and Bree McEwan (2014), women strategically choose to be polite in order to overcome boundaries set by men in the professional world. How did they learn this? The researchers interviewed 18 women from 15 different types of organizations, and they were asked to describe professional men and women, as well as offering their views on what being a professional means and who influenced those views.

While popular media often depicts successful assertive women, in reality, the women studied described how they were met with a much different scenario. Once women achieved positions in the workplace, they were greeted with negative labels like “bitch” or even the loss of their job because they acted assertively.

giphy1

This is something that drives me crazy about being a woman—if you try to reach your professional goals, you’re labeled with nasty names. However, men are encourage to do anything and everything to go after their goals. The good news is, in this particular study, the professional women in this study found a subtle way to achieve their goals while avoiding negative labels.

What’s that subtle way you ask? Something we were all taught growing up—being polite. This strategy worked for them because of the way society views women. Because if a woman perceived as nice and friendly, even if she has to demonstrate these behaviors in a greater capacity than her male counterparts, then she can be seen as a good professional in her coworkers’ eyes. I mean if you’re looking for a way to persuade a man in your professional life, make him feel as though he is the superior when trying to persuade him, right?

Not in my book. Do we need to kiss the ground men walk on? Reinforce sexist stereotypes? Ensure that women have to shine less in the workplace in order to make men happy? Nope. Because according to the authors, this is not the case—they argue instead that women are given the opportunity to redefine what assertive means.

Case in point: the women interviewed for this study felt that being strategic and polite was another way to act as an assertive professional. They believed they had the upper hand because they are able to change their communication strategies based on their understanding of the situation and what they wanted the outcome to be. In other words, women felt they were empowering themselves by redefining what “assertive” means for professional women.  

giphy

So to the women using politeness as a strategy to outsmart the patriarchy, and it works for you: then you go girl(s).

Calling it like Clinton: hidden gender discrimination

By Rebekah Peterson

Another blog post for all the nasty women out there? You bet.

giphy1

With the release of Hillary Clinton’s new book, What Happened, a lot of criticism ensued:

“Enough, already”

“Bristling at her unfair loss and cashing in”                    

“Clinton is just playing the ol’ woman card again”

In reality? Clinton is calling out overt and hidden misogyny and sexism that she faced during the 2016 presidential campaign. The fact that Clinton still faced sexist attacks while running for president after decades in the political sphere is a problem—and it’s a problem for all women wanting a career in politics, or, let’s be real, any other field.

Research also shows that the issue of overt and hidden gender discrimination doesn’t just start once women begin their political career. For example, it can even occur when women are trying to pursue higher education in the field, like a PhD.

In 2004 Johanna Kantola surveyed data from PhD candidates in the Political Science department of a Finnish university. A questionnaire was answered by 42 PhD candidates and 13 were interviewed (8 women and 5 men).

Kantola examined the interviews of the women and men in the PhD program.

No overt forms of discrimination (sex-segregated job advertising, gender pay gap, or verbal abuse) were found, but hidden discrimination acts were, and those are much harder to address in an organization.

Many of the women PhD candidates recalled being called “girl” by their advisor, or their area of research not being taken seriously—two behaviors that contribute to women not being perceived as experts in the political field.

giphy2

Many of the women also said they were not being offered teaching positions by their advisors, while some of the male PhD candidates said they were often encouraged to apply for teaching positions by their advisors. This shows that women are often stalled in the recruiting process while men are recruited through their inner circle.

So, if female PhD candidates and the first female presidential candidate of a major political party are facing hidden discrimination…that means it’s most likely showing up in your workplace too.

And how should women deal with this gender discrimination at work?

Well, we all can’t write a book like Clinton calling people out—most women want to keep their jobs and this prooobably isn’t the best way to do that—but there are other ways to confront the issue. For example:

  1. Recognize the issue
    1. Write down any gender biases you may being facing.
  2. Confront it head on
    1. If it’s a pay gap issue, ask for a raise.
    2. If you aren’t being seen as the expert you are: use your business card to legitimize yourself.
    3. If it’s overt discrimination, like verbal harassment or outwardly sexist comments, know your organization’s zero-tolerance policy and speak with HR.
  3. Look for a female mentor
    1. A female mentor can help advise you on making it to the top as a woman.
    2. A female mentor can also tell you how they may have experienced hidden discrimination and how they dealt with it, or how they wish they dealt with it.

 

So remember—when you face gender discrimination, it doesn’t have to be overt to be upsetting and constraining. Channel your inner Clinton and call that crap out.

Step Up: All In (For Self-Advocacy)

By Rebekah Peterson

Ladies, do you ever have a feeling that your male co-workers are being given more challenging assignments than you?

You know, that despite your ambition, your male co-workers are being given challenging assignments like managing a project, organizing a company event, or assuming responsibility of a major client?

Well, it’s not just a feeling and scholarly research actually backs this up.

i-dont-understand-it-leslie-knope-parks-and-recreation

In 2009 researchers Irene De Pater, Annelies Van Vianen, and Myriam Bechtoldt randomly selected 136 employees working at middle job levels at a pharmaceutical company to participate in a study about their job experiences.

First, the employees were asked demographic questions, such as number of years in their current job and the level of their highest education. Next, they were asked to self-rank their ambition level and self-evaluation. Lastly, they were given ten descriptions of challenging job assignments and were asked to rank each on a scale of 1 (not at all) to 5 (very much) the extent to which they deal with each of the assignment descriptions in their current job.

The results of the employees questionnaire were analyzed only after being controlled for their ambition and self-evaluation and the other demographic variables.

The results?

Women in middle job levels have fewer challenging job assignments than their male co-workers.

Yup—your ambition and desire to develop new skills are overshadowed by your gender.

Not only are assignments being given based on gender unfair, but they can also negatively impact your career.

The ability to tackle challenging job assignments helps lead to promotional opportunities, and if women aren’t being given the chance to prove themselves, it constrains them in reaching new heights in their careers and positions of power.

But just because you may not be assigned a challenging task at work shouldn’t stop you from getting one yourself. Here are some tips for asking your boss for more challenging tasks:

Step 1: Decide what you want out of asking for more tasks

  • More work in your position?
  • Or, a promotion?

Step 2: Come up with a solution

  • If you want more responsibilities in your position, identify tasks you are interested in.
  • If you’re ready for a promotion, identify opportunities within your company you think would be a good fit.

Step 3: Write down your current responsibilities

  • Your boss may not know exactly what you do and you should showcase your ability to complete all your current tasks and then some.

Step 4: Schedule the conversation with your boss

  • Schedule at least 30 minutes with your boss to discuss your current role and your proposal.
  • If you don’t want to schedule a time, bring it up at your annual review.

Step 5: Be honest

  • Be open with your boss. They want to help you and might have different ideas for more assignments.

giphy

So, here’s my challenging assignment to you: don’t be afraid to self-advocate, and don’t be timid about asking for what you want.

I always feeeel like, somebody’s…

By Joey Konrad

Have you ever encountered a male co-worker or a customer that gives you weird vibes—you know, when it feels like he’s looking at you behind your back, rating your body and how “hot” you look? Do you get these feelings even though you can’t identify who specifically is watching you?

giphy10

If you identify with that situation, you certainly aren’t alone. Researcher Beth Quinn conducted 43 interviews with working men and women about their experiences in the workplace with “girl watching”: those unwanted or unnoticed sexual gazes towards women in the workplace by men.

Quinn found that most of the people interviewed were aware of girl watching in the workplace, however the men interviewed often understood girl watching as a harmless joke or simple appreciation of women’s appearances, while the women felt it was objectifying and didn’t like the attention.

Quinn further questioned the men’s acceptance of girl watching and found that many responses fell along the lines of “that’s just what men do” and the women feeling objectified was not the reason why men engaged in girl watching. In fact, when forced to imagine themselves in a position of being sexually watched, all the men interviewed understood the harm or discomfort of girl watchingyet were unable to generate that empathy when listening to women’s experiences.

In 1980, the U.S. passed the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) which outlined sexual harassment as illegal and required employers to provide preventative measures to address sexual harassment, like awareness seminars.  However, sexual harassment in the workplace is still rampant, as the National Sexual Violence Resource Center notes that around 40% of women have experienced some form of sexual harassment, and that statistic does not account for the women that do not report or share their experiences.

Quinn’s findings reveal some flaws in the way we approach teaching and preventing sexual harassment at work. Who knew those mandatory seminars that showed weird videos from the 90’s were ineffective?

giphy11

The larger problem here isn’t that men need help understanding what sexual harassment is, rather what men understand to be masculine includes proving their (hetero)sexuality at work through girl watching or other forms of sexual harassment. Men must confirm how manly they are to others at work by asserting their enjoyment of sex and appearance, and also show no emotions of compassion or concern towards women because they can be labeled weak and their masculinity is threatened.

Sexual harassment training and information sessions need to address stereotypes of what it means to be a man and a woman if they want serious gains at eliminating sexual harassment at work. Men specifically can provide positive reinforcement for other men who speak out against sexual harassment and redefine masculinity, as well as speak out against men who don’t.

So whether it’s you or your buddy….dude, stop looking at your coworker like that, alright?

Princess Bride and (less than) the royal treatment

By InformHer Staff Writer

“Mawwiage. Mawwiage is what bwings us togethew today.”

 

But Princess Bride, is marriage really bringing all of us together?

When it comes to salary and income earnings, marriage helps men a lot more than it helps women, according to Claudia Geist’s 2006 article titled “Payoff or Penalty? A Comparison of the Marriage Wage Differential for Men and Women across 15 Nations.”

giphy9

Her examination of the hourly wages of married and unmarried men and women, between the ages 25 and 55, revealed something interesting, and a little upsetting. Men in the 15 countries studied (including the United States) earn noticeably more when they are married than when unmarried. On the other hand, women earn about the same as they would married or unmarried in a majority of the countries examined. Geist explains that this may be because of the types of jobs married women work, and the consistency of the cross-cultural belief that men are breadwinners. Further research is needed to confirm if this data is evidence of either of those claims.

“Chin-up, Buttercup,” because this study does not mean that women will suddenly be payed less at their job when they get married. Instead, the marriage wage gap points to a few likely problems, for example the harmful social pressure on men to be the breadwinner in a partnership.  Finally, this also illustrates how women’s work is undervalued and confirms that women’s potential for wage-earning is less than men’s.

Wait, women have a lower earning potential? 

giphy7

If this sounds sexist to you, it’s because it is. Women’s work is generally undervalued in comparison to men’s due to the fact that women make up the majority of the care-work workforce (think nurses, day care workers, maids, stay at home moms). Care workers do not receive comparable (or even adequate) pay. The solution is not to avoid being a careworker yourself, but to value care work and care workers, and to shape the dialogue that surrounds care work in a more positive way. Other factors that could explain why women earn less may be their negotiation ability and the amount of work they must take on at home.

The pay gap for married women is widespread, with numerous problematic causes, and numerous solutions. “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, now prepare to” forget about discovering a one-size fits all solution to this problem. Instead, we need to wholistically re-evaluate the roles of women in our workforce and the value we place on care work in our culture if we want to ever close the marriage pay gap.

A not-so-bundle-of-joy

By Bronwyn Neal

Imagine this:

You are at the height of your career, you’ve found the love of your life, had your dream wedding, and not too long ago, you brought a little life into the world. You’re at the top of your game and nothing can bring you down. Or so you think. What if I told you that your new little bundle of joy now influences the way your co-workers, bosses and future employers perceive you as a professional? Don’t worry boys, you’re safe. Ladies on the other hand, pay close attention…

Over the past few decades, women have been making their way out of the house and into the workplace, morphing the image of “woman” from housewife to professional. Although this all sounds fine and dandy, women have not made this transition smoothly and are still trying to claim their rightful place in society.

In 2004, researchers Amy Cuddy, Susan Fiske, and Peter Glick conducted a study to find out how professional women are perceived after becoming mothers.

Here’s how: 122 undergraduates of diverse gender read profiles of three consultants who worked at a corporate company and were asked to respond with their first impressions. The profile described either a man or woman, and provided a brief background of their education, job requirements, hobbies, and whether or not they were a parent.

After each description, participants were asked to rate the consultant on 20 traits using a scale of 1 to 7. Of the 20 traits, a handful measured competence and several measured “warmth”-related traits.The rest were “filler” traits, meaning that they did not necessarily factor into what the researchers were trying to study.  

giphy6

Although this approach sounds simple, the results they found were anything but.

When reviewing the results, they found that the working mom was perceived significantly more warm, but marginally less competent than working women without children. Men on the other hand, did not differ on competence regardless of if they were a father or a working man without a child. Furthermore, working moms were preferred less than women without children, whereas working fathers were preferred less than a man without children.

There is a lot more than meets the surface with a study like this one.

Women being perceived as warmer after having a child is not absurd (I guess I’ll give them that). What is absurd, is the fact that women are perceived as less competent due to having a child. Correct me if i’m wrong, but I don’t think that bringing a life into the world affects how well a woman can complete a task or do her job for that matter.

C_Ujqx8VoAAzj2u.jpg

This same accusation becomes even more ridiculous when men receive brownie points for doing what they are expected of them as a father, whereas women have to jump through hoops and bend over backwards in order to get a simple “good job” for going above and beyond what is expected of them. This difference in perception can be explained by  old original gender roles of men and women: breadwinners vs. housewives.

A woman and man have the same job, they both fall in love and have a family. The man is now seen as a great father and the woman, as warmer, motherly. And as for their work ethic? Nothing changed. Why? Because babies don’t affect competency. Point being: we, as a society, shouldn’t let them.  

One small step into daycare for man, one giant leap for (wo)mankind

By Eliana Huffman

ABBA. Cold winters. Gender equity and social acceptance of women’s fight for equality in the workplace, at home, and with their romantic partners…oh my?

giphy4

Now that you’ve been reminded of the existence of this tiny Scandinavian country, let’s take a more in-depth look at Sweden’s family leave policy and the effect it’s having on the construction of fatherhood and romantic partnerships.

Before we begin, let’s go over some basics on what this family leave policy offers and how it works. The benefits for Swedish citizens start before birth, with expectant mothers given free prenatal care and group support benefits—but that’s not all. Even parents who don’t give birth to their children biologically are allowed to take parental leave (for example, adoptive parents). This total paid leave period lasts 480 days, and can be split however the parents desire. Parents also get a monthly allowance per child to offset the exorbitant financial costs that come with, you know, raising a whole human being.

Because this policy is so egalitarian, it has been the source of great curiosity. Starting in 2012, researcher Thomas Johansson set out to interview 20 men living in Sweden who decided to share their parental leave period more or less equally with their partners. He focused his discussion mostly on four men in particular to show better representation of the different types of partnerships people have in Sweden. The first man was in a gay partnership, the second man and his female partner both worked part-time, the third man went from spending all of his time at work to all of his time at home, and the fourth man was a stay-at-home dad whose wife was and still is much more career-oriented.

Johansson discovered very common themes: men felt not only a social obligation to split family work equally, but felt they were treated like kings when they did so.  They also felt a strong moral obligation to be partners who contributed to childrearing equally.

giphy5

What’s missing from this study is the perspective of Swedish women, but what we can confirm from other research is that when men contribute more equally at home, women make more of their equal share at work. This calls for further research, but perhaps indicates a link to Sweden’s reduced pay gap compared to the United States.

What can we apply from this study to our own lives in America?

For starters, men who report contributing equally to their partners say they’re happier and have better partnerships, so we can throw that myth of men feeling emasculated or “losing out” to their wives right out the window. Secondly, we can start giving verbal praise to men who do their part, as this clearly is a source of encouragement and social change—but let’s not forget the awesome ladies that do these behaviors, too.

One small step into the daycare for man, one giant leap for (wo)mankind.

Women’s health is human health. Period.

By Erika Harrington

A few months back, news broke that Italy has introduced new legislation requiring workplaces to offer three days of menstrual leave each month for female employees. News flash: It’s highly controversiallet’s try to break it down together.

While we traditionally base InformHer articles on academic research, there isn’t a lot to go on here. So instead, I’ll offer an overview of the conversation surrounding menstrual leave, and while I’m at it, make a tasteful call to researchers to explore this topic further.

My attempts to find such research revealed the under-explored world of menstruation’s social and psychological implications. There are studies about the attractiveness of women with endometriosis. Attractiveness. Not actual health or, you know, treatments. I’ll let you ponder that.

giphy3

Okay, let’s refocus. Menstrual leave, what is it? According to the legislation, women who suffer from dysmenorrhoea–or debilitating menstrual pain–are entitled to 3 days of menstrual leave each month. This accommodates women’s unique needs without cutting into the sick leave that their male co-workers also receive. While some find this sensible and well intended, others were quick to point out the faults in the policy.

For one, some feel that this is not fair at it’s core because it gives women special treatment. Scrolling through article comments and hearing general sentiments about working women from public figures like our dear president’s son, it’s clear that many people believe that if women can’t handle the demands of the workplace, they shouldn’t be in it.” *Rolls eyes*

Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 9.15.23 PM

On the other hand, many proponents of female empowerment disagree with this legislation because they think it diminishes women’s perceived abilities. They believe policies like these send a message that women are weaker people who need to be coddled *rolls eyes a little less*. With that, many of those on this side of the debate think a solution is not to give women added days alone, but rather push for more sick leave for all employees (which could be beneficial for those with chronic conditions that are completely unrelated to their sex).

Further, there’s an audible viewpoint that I haven’t been able to find in the public discussion, but was mentioned to me by a fellow InformHer writer. She explained that if your cramps are painful enough that you can’t go to work, it’s indicative a larger health issue that should be better researched and treated—like endometriosis, adenomyosis, STI’s, miscarriages, or fibroids, all of which which affect hundreds of millions of women across the world but are both under-diagnosed and (often) incorrectly diagnosed.

The reality is some women experience extreme pain that can lead to nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness, fainting, anemia, and diarrhea–symptoms that you’d experience once a month, or even daily in some cases. Currently, the only non-surgical way to mask (not treat) these symptoms are often hormonal birth control medications, especially IUDs and implants.

My take on this situation? What we need is to stop looking at women as only economic commodities, and as real people who need improved access to research (and doctors well-versed in this research who can treat them). Because a healthcare system that doesn’t acknowledge a uterus as more than a special interest is just wrong. Period.

The Fortune 500 Popularity Contest

By Rachel Garretson 

We all know that board numbers are critical to success in basketball (ok, maybe not all of us), but what about numbers on different types of boards? Say…corporate boards? What numbers matter there?  

Bear, Rahman, and Post used data from the Fortune 2009 World’s Most Admired Companies List and the Mergent database of annual reports (as well as various other public sources) to conduct a study on how how diverse members on a corporate advisory board affect a company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) score.

Spoiler alert: diversity matters.

giphy1

    For those who might need a crash course in CSR ratings (I know I did), they’re a big deal. Good scores attract more job applicants, obviously, since none of us want to work for a company with a bad reputation, and they’re linked with high job satisfaction for current employees—because hey, if all your buddies think the place you work at is awesome, you’re going to feel better about your job and be less likely to start seeking work elsewhere.

    Beyond providing benefits to employees, good CSR ratings enhance corporate image itself, helping organizations grow. It also positively affects ~minor~ things like financial performance, institutional investment, and share price. And further, companies can accumulate it like capital. If companies have a lot of them, they can be used to offset a some of the consequences of any nasty little publicity crises that may happen along. We’re more likely to forgive a mistake by a company we like than a company we already hate.

    So CSR ratings are a big deal for the companies, but why did these researchers care? The bottom line is that they found gender diversity on a company’s board helps increase CSR ratings. For example, women bring different ideas to the table and differing decision-making styles to the table. This benefits the company in general, as almost all successful corporations pride themselves on innovation. Another way women helped out is just that they tend to be more aware of and sensitive to CSR. Since women are more aware of the company’s reputation and how that can affect it, they make more conscientious decisions that take those factors into consideration. In fact, women just being present is a big factor. Not just one token woman too. What our fearless researchers found was that as the percentage of women on the board increased, corporate reputation increased as well.

giphy2

Need another reason to expand diversity efforts within your organization, especially by including more women? Now you have it. When boss ladies join the table, everyone else benefits, too.