Now I’m Mad

By Erika Harrington

Have you all seen the #BlackWomenAtWork hashtag? If you haven’t, you need to check it out right now. Sparked by Bill O’Reilly’s comments towards congresswoman Maxine Walter, the trending tag is a perfect example of the layered problems professional women of color face throughout their careers, a problem characterized by a policing of emotions and anger.

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But let’s back up for a second. What are we talking about when we talk about “anger”?

A snide comment? A side-eye? The silent treatment? Or, if you’re like me, a tearful and dramatic outburst? However you show it, we all get angry sometimes. Things get frustrating, things get tough, and people get vicious. And they can get frustrating with family, get tough with friends, and peopleyes, even professional peopleget vicious at work.

It’s natural and it’s something you can recover from…right?

Well, let me clarifyit’s easy for some people to recover from. It’s a little tougher for women because when they get mad, it tends to be perceived as the result of their over-emotional and irrational nature. But we’ve already covered this.

And we know there’s a misconception that when women get angry, it’s because they’re just inherently emotional. But men? Well, men were obviously just reacting to something upsetting.

Now this actually makes me mad. If Tina from accounting has been dodging my emails and skipping our meetings, and our project doesn’t get done because we never worked out the budget, and then my boss chews me out for not delivering, I’m going to be bitter. And Tina and I might have to have an unpleasantyet professionalconversation. And no one, and I mean no one is going to tell me that it’s my fault that I’m mad. Yes, yes, we all know there’s more to it than thatbut you get my point.

So I’ve spent a lot of time ranting on something we’ve already read about–I just can’t help it, these matters always get me riled up. Must be my angry nature, right? I want to take time to remind you all that is even worse for women of color, specifically black women who have to deal with the ~angry black woman~ trope.  

Researchers Durr and Wingfield did an extensive study of black, female professionals with participant observation and in-depth interviews. One notable conclusion was the strain and wasted energy that participants experienced when trying to avoid certain stereotypes. They find themselves constantly worried that they aren’t controlling their emotions well enough. They must “pick their battles” so that they aren’t viewed unprofessionally, but the reality is that, in any job there are times where you have to fight for the ideas that you believe in.

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So while it’s more than troublesome that black women deal with a constant threat of being stereotyped, it’s especially problematic when avoiding the stereotype hinders one’s ability to forward their contributions. This can have long-term effects on careers if it prevents individuals from taking the career risks that are key to success. Speaking of impacts on career, let’s consider the emotional cost of constantly worry about not acting “too black” for the workplace. All that time black women spend concerned with image, they could spend doing, oh I don’t know, their actual job maybe?

So what’s the solution here? Well, many advise women to make sure that their anger is accompanied with justifications. When things get frustrating, make sure you’re communicating in a level-headed manner, with fool-proof explanations so your accuser can’t claim that you’re acting irrational. This is good advice day-to-day advice for black women. But let’s also encourage others  to make work environments inclusive and free of prejudice. If your black, female co-worker gets mad and “goes off,” and you find yourself thinking “typical,” then you need to check yourself. Better yet, be willing to check others. A simple “I think her response was appropriate given the situation,” can go a long way at the water cooler.  Remind yourself, or anyone who makes comments like these, that they aren’t angry because they’re black, they’re angry because it be like that sometimes.

Oatmeal cookies and so-called workplace rookies

By Staff Writer

Twenty-first century feminism is kinda like an oatmeal cookie; it looks pretty sweet, but when you bite into it, it’s still just hardened oatmeal.

Since the beginning of the feminist movement, women have been claiming that they do not need feminism. Less passive dissidents have even suggested that the movement is over and that women don’t need feminism anymore. It’s easy to think this way; in the US, more women are in business and political leadership positions than ever before, the wage gap is (slowly, painstakingly) beginning to close, gender discrimination is technically illegal, women can vote and own property, Not All Men, #NoMakeup, Emma Watson’s speech, birth control’s sheer difficulty (not impossibility!) to access, and Gloria Steinem’s feature alongside tote bags in the spring 2016 Land’s End catalogue. Could it get any better for women? I mean, it could. It really could. But some women don’t think so.
“TOP GIRLS?”, published by Angela McRobbie in 2007, explores the ways that post-feminism has constructed a “correct” and “incorrect” professional woman. She argues that the attitude that feminism is over, or no longer needed (known as post-feminism), is actually a signifier of gender re-entrenchment: the process of defying gender norms in a way that paradoxically reassert masculine dominance. When successful women take on masculine behaviors in the workplace, their performance of masculinity highlights their commitment to performing their gender and ironically harms women who can’t or won’t act out these same masculine behaviors.

So no, it’s not bad that you wear a power suit to work while another woman wears a dress. Your power suit, instead, highlights that you are a woman with a higher achievement capacity, creating a dangerous hierarchy of workplace-acceptable women. 

An easier breakdown of this:
Dianne has short, cropped hair. She spends little time on care work, she delegates non-essential tasks, and does not talk about her personal life while in the office. She wears a power suit. Every. Day. She does not have any kids. Dianne is a feminist.

But meet Jane. Jane has long hair, and wears blouses. She does care work around the office, does not actively take credit for her work, and often asks “is there anything I can do to help you?”. She has two children, and their pictures are all over her desk. She had to take a day off once last year to stay home with one of them when they were sick. Jane is a feminist.

Both of these women are good workers, and could probably perform the same tasks to the same degree of adequacy. But, Dianne is regarded as having more capacity to achieve. In the competitive meritocracy of feminism, Jane just doesn’t measure up. Dianne’s ability to adopt masculine social and professional styles in the workplace is both a product of the feminist movement, and the success thereof a signal of postfeminism dawn. Women like Jane cannot succeed under current patriarchal structures that are perpetuated by successful post-feminist examples like Dianne.

“But I love blazers!”

I hear ya. But, the problem isn’t solved by eliminating this “top girl” who performs masculinity in the office. Instead, the fix is to regard femininity and the feminine as equal to masculinity and the masculine.

Feminism, in its most basic sense, means granting women political, social, and economic equality with men; and by definition, that means valuing femininity as much as masculinity. In order for women’s continued growth, we must catch ourselves when we judge other women for acting “too feminine” or valuing a woman with masculine behaviors more than an equally competent woman with feminine behaviors.

You don’t have to rock femininity, but you can’t knock it either; instead, use your new knowledge of gender re-entrenchment to specifically empower and speak up for individuals who perform femininity.  

High-power humor

By Rachel Garretson

Laughing is good for us. We all know that. It reduces stress, it increases productivity, and it can be used to reduce conflict. These are all reasons to get giggling in life and at work, but we want to introduce you to a few more targeted and lesser-known ways humor is used in the workplace.

Jacqueline Watts conducted a two-pronged study analyzing how women use humor in a male dominated industry like the UK civil engineering profession. The first was an ethnographic study, which is a method that uses long term immersion in a culture to learn more about the beliefs, values and practices of the culture. For the second study, she conducted 31 interviews with U.K. women in various civil engineering positions.

What she focused on was three distinct ways in which women and men use humor in the workplace.

The first way was humor as a tool for resistance. Groups with limited agency like minorities (hint: women!) employed this strategy against dominant power structures. But this can be any group when applied to real-life scenarios.  Watts gives one example of construction workers mimicking the site foremen, or younger employees teasing their older counterparts about technology. This kind of humor lets us challenge inferior status within organizational power structures in an acceptable way, as long as we don’t push too far.

While resistance humor is something all of us use, humor as refuge is something Watts found to be more specific. Refuge humor, almost exclusively used by minorities, was (and is) used to create a safe space, a shared community. It was built upon a common position of relative weakness. In Watts’s study focusing on women in the male dominated engineering sector, female construction workers found comfort in engaging in innocent gossip with the secretarial staff (almost all women). The opportunity to engage in light hearted banter eased the burden of being a minority.

The third type that Watts presents is not so good: humor as exclusion. While women know humor as a tool for exclusion is definitely not an exclusively male trait, Watts found that men used humor to make women a distinct other. This strategy  often challenged women’s professional credibility but are couched as jokes…that it was just “teasing”. The problem is that when these types of jokes are consistently aimed at women, it lumps them together and solidifies a possibly unconscious “us versus them” mentality. This can really wear a woman down. The best coping mechanism is to not internalize it. How?  Maybe strategy #1 and #2 can help.

Sometimes women who experience exclusion take on partial responsibility by saying they aren’t presenting a professional enough image. “It was what I was wearing or how I acted.”Guilty of this? Stop! You know how badass you are. If you don’t, have someone remind you.

Humor is a great tool in the workplace, but don’t let the bad banter get you down. So keep on loling, lmaoing, and rofling. You’ve earned it.

I see London, I see France, I see…

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Me in France in fall of 2016, gracefully walking myself away from all of that gender inequality nonsense.

By Eliana Huffman

I see London, I see France, I see gender inequality all over the darn workplace. Case in point? At one French company in particular that I’m going analyze for you for the next 500 words.

Lady boss researchers Cécile Guillaume and Sophie Pochic interviewed 60 people, of either top management positions or ranked as “top potential”, within a large French company on the issue of women’s ability to access top positions and corporate diversity in general. They combined  interviews with secondary informationHR and workplace statistics provided by the company’s private databasefor analysis.

In short, the researchers confirmed that the glass ceiling is very real; women who worked at the company faced a whole lot of barriers to success that men didn’t. Some of the biggest ones? Promotions later in their tenure with the company than men, little support for employees who chose to raise a family (tackling child care and family work is a role that is usually socially prescribed to women), and being considered less educated for attending liberal arts schools even if the subjects were functionally transferrablefor example, being frowned upon for having a B.A. in Public Relations even if a B.B.A. in Marketing would produce a nearly identical skillset.

Additionally, almost double the amount of women as men in the company were partnered with someone who also worked for the organization. Those women consistently held lower rankings in the organization than their spouse, and did more family work at home. So in the wise words of Billy Rae Cyruswhat to heck? This implied that the organizational climate was more favorable towards men, even plucked from a partnership where both spouses worked full-time professionally, and obviously had the same socioeconomic status.

Now let’s talk about what this means for us. What can we do to stop organizations like this one from hindering women so much? And what is the greater impact that we can have for gender equality long-term?

We can start with paid family leave policies. Paid family leave has been proven to reduce the wage gap, help women be more productive at work, and boost their salaries in the long run.

And with this knowledge, how can men do their part to reduce the wage gap and make the workplace more friendly towards women? Well, easily enough, they can do the laundry, be there to take dinner out of the oven, change diapers or pick up around the house. All of these things reduce the amount of time women have to spend on housework and plus, contributing equally like this might increase men’s own relationship satisfaction and benefit them, too.

We can also vouch for greater HR training to teach recruiters the skill sets that different degrees and institutions of learning bring to the table, and spread information about the financial, and organizational, benefits of having people with great soft skills/feminine communication styles in the office.

So yeah, there’s London…there’s France…and do I see a beaconing horizon of hope over in there in the distance? Yep, that is definitely a beaconing horizon of hope. Let’s figure out how to get a little closer.

Should men be allowed at women’s marches?

Should men be allowed at women’s marches? Well obviously, they should.

But, if you’re like me, after the women’s march you committed an age-old atrocity: giving men more credit for doing the same (or even less) work as women.

Men who went to the Women’s March on Washington and elsewhere got a lot of credit, acclaim, and Facebook shares simply for being men at a women’s march. How hip, how cool, how modern ~male feminist~ of them to opt into something that supports women.
Eyeroll, eyeroll, eyeroll.  

Just as in anything else, women do not get as much credit as men for doing the exact same thing.

But before we go any further, we need to establish that this is not an attack on men who are allies or consider themselves “male feminists”. Allying yourself with protests and advocacy groups is difficult for anyone, even those with the most social power. If you are one of the male march attendees, thank you for your participation, passion, and gumption. Now, let’s take a closer look at your role.

Feminist scholars and marchers have asked: should men even be allowed at women’s movement protests and marches? What impacts do men have in women’s spaces? How do they orient themselves within movements? These are easy questions to ask if you’ve ever wondered what men give to or get out of feminism.

According to Kelsey Kretschmer and Kristin Barber (2016), there are answers to all three of these questions. Their research analyzed newspaper coverage of Take Back the Night and Slutwalk events, two recurrent feminist marches that protest sexual assault and sexual violence against women as well as victim blaming.

At a basic level, their research revealed that keeping men out creates more media attention for these events.

First, movement boundariesevent boundaries (or declarations of the in and out crowd) are as old as feminism, and have been used along lines of race, gender, sexuality, age, and ability. Kinda like the VIP section at a club, or eating with the popular kids in middle school; declaring in and out crowds creates power where power did not exist before. And, those who are declared ‘in’ are given power they might not have had previously. In everyday life, women are not part of this in-crowd. Giving them this social power is key to healthy protest and sustained marches.

But declaring women in sometimes means declaring men out. Take Back the Night (TBTN), for instance, has historically flipped the script of public protest by distinctly asking men to not participate because it would shift the center of focus away from women’s issues. However, this sharp event boundary almost always garners media attention, and allows organizers to highlight their core issues and demands. TBTN events that did not specify participant gender typically had less media coverage, if any at all.

Uninviting men can be better for the march in terms of media coverage, but also allows men to re-assert themselves as a group who inherently deserve to be permitted in the space.

By not including men in order to keep focus on women’s issues, organizers gave men a platform to have their opposition voiced. The focus cannot be shifted away from men.

Second,  Kretschmer and Barber conclude that (not including counter-protesters and non-participants) men orient themselves in three distinct ways in women’s marches:

Men as allies:
“I can’t believe this happens, and I am here because I want it to stop happening.”

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Men as victims:
“I can’t believe this happens to you. It happens to me too. We can work together to stop it.”

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Modern organizers of TBTN and Slutwalk have begun to shift focus away from violence against women, and toward male violence against all people because of these identities.

Men as co-opters:
“I can’t believe this happens! But it is important for me to be here to show that not all men…”
“I am here today because I think that men get a bad rap…”
“I’m not like other men…”
“Men also have it pretty tough…”

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Co-opting is bad for the co-opter and the co-opted because it unnecessarily and ineffectively disqualifies what is being protested, without actually solving anybody’s problem.

If you’re a man with a feminist plan (and we hope you are!), it may be time for you to evaluate your role in the movement if you have ever fallen into the trap of co-opting. If you find yourself in a space created by and for women, use your voice not to speak over the voices of said women but to instead help amplify theirs. While men’s issues absolutely deserve to be heard, consider the context in which you want to deliver these messages; there’s no reason men’s voices need to compete with or broadcast over top of women’s in a space designed for women.

Who run the world…girls?

By Bronwyn Neal

No one can sing it better than the queen herself, but do Beyonce’s catchy lyrics stand a chance when it comes to real-life scenarios?

I like to think that, as women, we stick by, stand up, and support one another in the male-dominated world that we live in. Whether women succeed by holding executive positions in fields where women are greatly underrepresented or by becoming the icons of pop, we like to say that women leaders have paved the way for future women to follow.

However, research shows this is not usually the case.71720534877071b1652946ab8af22a4c

In 1922, the first woman was appointed to the U.S. Senate, yet more than 90 years later women still only account for 17% of senators. Similarly, in 1972, the first woman was promoted to CEO of a Fortune 500 company; today, still only 24 (out of these 500 CEOs) are women.

So why are other women not following the trailblazers who have cracked the glass within male-dominated fields?

Researchers Kaiser and Spalding set out to answer this question. Ninety-five white female undergraduate students participated in an experiment they designed. Before their lab session, participants completed a test in order to determine how strongly they identified as a womanwe’ll just call it an identification test. The researchers then began their quest to discover why women, at times, help fellow women advance in male-dominated field, and at other times, favor men, therefore hurting the advancement of women.

The answer they came up with: it depends.

Researchers split the participants into two groups. Half of them were led to believe that they had been chosen to be a “lab manager” over two other competitors. More importantly, each “lab manager” received an oversized t-shirt to subtly emphasize that the manager position was meant for a man, and they were asked to sign a roster filled with 90% male names (to again make it apparent that they had been largely outnumbered by their male counterparts).

Each participant was asked to conduct a test that would help select an assistant manager, which involved giving away clues that could be helpful or unhelpful.

The other half acted as a control group and were given a scenario where they were not underrepresented and the role of “lab manager” was eliminated. Participants were asked to complete the same clue task under the notion that they were simply helping two other participants complete their next task, instead of trying to search for an assistant manager as the first group did.

But what did the researchers find?

They found that when women were underrepresented as “lab managers” and did not strongly identify as a women, female participants would most likely impede the advancement of women in that field. Likewise, women lab managers with strong identification did help women advance. When women were not underrepresented lab managers, however, their identification of being a woman had no bearing on whether or not she would favor a man or woman co-worker.

Why does this happen?

Women throughout history make it to the top but do not seem to bring women to follow in their footsteps. This may be because they are too busy focusing on their own careers (which systemic sexism makes much more difficult) to focus their attention on careers of other women or, like our participants in the study described above, many are simply not aware that their favoritism towards men impedes the advancement of women in the fields where women are not heavily represented.

Now that you have been made aware of one’s identification impeding or advancing women, will you help them run the world?
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Endless Cycle

By Erika Harrington

When it comes to wage gaps, and the success of professional women, it’s easy to play the blame game. “It’s hyper-masculinity in the business world that makes work a toxic environment for women.” “It’s that women choose to have children and stay home with the family.” “Men are threatened by strong women.” “Women’s hormones make them too emotional to make big decisions.”

Enough.

The fact of the matter is that no one’s to blame, and yet we’re all to blame. Confused? Read on.

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There are decades worth of elaborate research on the presence of (and lack thereof) women in professional executive positions. And with all this research comes a Frito-Lay’s Variety pack of conclusions on who’s at fault for the issue. Trying to get through this chaos of explanations and figure out what’s really going on would be a major headache. Lucky for us, Ellen Ernst Kossek, Rong Su, Lusi Wu bore the burden for us. They basically went through the many (and I mean many) studies that have been done on the topic and pulled out some themes so the rest of us can get the overview.

“However, simply because women spend more energy on their families than men, this doesn’t mean that women want to  spend more energy on their families than their job.”

They found that here are many different factors that keep women from executive suites and we can all do a little more to make sure representation improves in board rooms.

Factors that keep top leadership positions from being equal are things like individual decisions of women, organizational climates, and role expectations. While our culture expects more of  women when it comes to home responsibilities and family, women also tend to opt out of work to spend more time with children than men. However, simply because women spend more energy on their families than men, this doesn’t mean that women want to  spend more energy on their families than their job.

This is why the climate of organizations also contributes to gender inequalities. The research indicates that many employers and organizations don’t offer helpful work-life balance resources. Child care options that promote flexibility and better paid leave will help women to meet the professional goals that are important to them. It also crucial to remember that work-life balance isn’t a women’s issue, and describing it as one perpetuates stereotypes. The professional world needs to make sure work-life balance resources are offered to men and known about by men. This will promote a culture in which men share home responsibilities and are given the chance to spend the time with their families that they may have not been able to enjoy before.

Employers need to be more conscious of their practices that are making it difficult for women to thrive. This can be done using anonymous surveys, hiring an organizational change specialist, hosting a focus group, and more—anything that encourages employees to report what they’d actually need to succeed with their organization.

Organizations can also help be more inclusive by making the workplace an environment that supports female identities. Kossek, Su, and Wu found that research indicates women tend to choose fields that allow them to work with people instead of fields that force them to compete against people. Instead of these fields arguing that women should adapt to competitive natures of the job, they should be more open to potential benefits of collaboration in the field—because finding life-saving cures in the STEM field or growing a multi-million corporation doesn’t have to have a ‘Hunger Games’-esque climate.

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Employers also need to adjust what they define as commitment to work. Research again suggest that long hours and face-to-face work are valued over flexibility and telecommuting. But the latter allows employees to have better work-life balance and should be seen as just as hard working. To be fair, we could chalk this up to old assumptions about the way things “ought to be”—but these old assumptions can often be gendered. We all—men and women—need to recognize that we buy into these assumptions, we uphold stereotypes and create bias. Acknowledge it and fight any knee-jerk reactions to perpetuate it.

Okay, so that may have seemed like a long “brief” overview. I warned you that looking at the many causes of the lack of women at the top was going to be tough. But what isn’t tough is making the decision to address these problems. Taking the simple steps mentioned before can make all the difference.

Addressing all the factors of this issue can be messy but doing it is the only way to clean up the gender gap. We are all capable of taking at least minor steps to address bias in the boardroom, and it starts with you.

The Women’s March on Washington

By Rachel Garretson

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The Women’s March on Washington sent a potent message of hope for many who see fear and uncertainty in our future. Several of our InformHer team members attended the march in DC alongside our sisters and brothers across the country and the world. What they found was a powerful atmosphere of overwhelming inclusivity for all involved.

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Source: Slate

What made this march so successful that day? And how can we ensure lasting change?

Shiv Ganesh and Cynthia Stohl, from Massey University and UC Santa Barbara, respectively, can help us understand the answers to these questions. Ganesh and Stohl studied the Occupy Wall street movement by participating, observing and interviewing protesters who were a part of the Global Occupy movement in Wellington, New Zealand. The Occupy movement, in 2011, protested social and economic inequalities around the world.

Ganesh and Stohl concluded that the Occupy movement represented a new era of hybridity in protesting. They argue that there were many characteristics that marked the Occupy movement as a turning point, but we’ll just go over a two of them here and how we can use them to understand the Women’s March today.

Hybridity is the state of blending many separate and dissimilar elements into one new whole. This hybridity is demonstrated in both how the Women’s March was made popular and the inclusivity of its message.

Firstly, the planning and popularization of the march was certainly not limited to a single medium. Previously when researching the planning of a social movements like marches, we would try to determine a single source for the call to action, whether Facebook, email, or word of mouth. Ganesh and Stohl observed in 2011 that media and technology touched almost every aspect of our lives which made it almost impossible for them to pin down one source for the call to action. Five years later, it’s only harder. This message diversity is something that the organizers of the Women’s March used to the fullest by spreading the word through all different types of media.

A second way in which marches have hybridized is with their messages. Whether good or bad, today’s marches have a much broader messages than their more focused predecessors. Ganesh and Stohl showed us the beginning of this movement towards hybridity of message in the Occupy movement that incorporated local issues in the areas of individual marches into the larger message. This gave participants something concrete and personal to relate to instead of a vague ideal.

Likewise, the early planning of the Women’s March was criticized for focusing on white women’s concerns, but it grew to incorporate and bring together many causes. Part of that movement was to break down the ideals held by the originators of the march and diversify them to make them more personal to a wider variety of people.  Now the official statements express concerns of all minorities, including racial minorities, immigrants, the LGBTQ, and religious minorities. Critics might say that this unfocused message weakens the March and makes it unlikely that they will be able to accomplish any one objective. Supporters might say that this has transformed the March into a movement that will promote unity, and that feminism should really be intersectional after all.

There are points to both of these arguments, as well as the argument that this march was just a social flare up, an angry reaction to the election, and that it will fizzle out.

It is to easy to pat ourselves on the back and move on with our lives. But how do we keep up the momentum? Well, there are many ways.

For example, the Women’s March on Washington website is still providing leadership with their new campaign, “10 actions in 100 days.” The first two actions are already up and running and you can sign up to be emailed as they come out with the rest. But this should be just one string of your bow. As we’ve learned, hybridity is key when you want your message to be heard.

Donating and volunteering for causes close to your heart will also make a difference, as many are predicting that nonprofits will struggle in the next few years. All of us have many causes to be passionate about, and Ganesh and Stohl seem to be saying this is a good thing. It reflects our diversity of interests and our willingness to support causes that don’t directly affect us.

Lastly, and probably most importantly, is that we have to stay informed and aware of the world around us. As Alicia Key’s said in her speech at the DC march, “Our potential is unlimited. We rise.”

Man vans and dinnertime plans: family work and the wage gap

By Eliana Huffman

“I call it house work

‘Cause it’s life work

But I’m gonna throw shade

If I don’t get paid for this house work”

Jax Jones may be onto something here. In 2000, researchers Barbara Arrighi and David Maume found that women who do more “housework” than their husbands (after their professional days end) make proportionally less money than men who do more “housework” than their wives. Crazy, right?

The researchers discovered this by creating a survey (completed by 385 men) that considered the following three factors the most important in determining how spouses split up family work: available time, gender-role attitudes, and power dynamics. But before we continue, it’s important to note that all of these factors influence each other, and can’t be weighed without this context.

The major takeaways? When men feel that they’re subordinated or feminized in their professional jobs, they retaliate at home and don’t contribute as much to what they consider “feminine” household tasks: think cooking, cleaning, etc. Weirdly enough, women picking up more hours at work also didn’t increase the amount of family work that their respective husbands contributed—and in the reverse situation, when men picked up hours at their jobs, their wives yet again were the spouses that took on more family work.

Basically, in every scenario they studied, men either contributed the same amount of “housework” that they did before, or even less, regardless of the woman’s professional commitments. Still with me here?

Here’s the big kicker; with this information, the researchers determined that men not contributing equally to shared household tasks is a huge factor in the wage gap, and that women are held back in their careers because of it.

Why? When women are overwhelmed at home with family tasks, they lack the energy and confidence that males (who have female partners picking up the slack) have to seek promotions, ask for raises, and generally advance themselves in their careers. Further, women who report that they expected their husbands to contribute moreand don’t have these expectations metalso rank their marriages as less satisfying and more distressing than women who expect less. As a result, tensions like these led to many dissatisfied women simply quitting work, which decreases marital tension but decrease their experience and tenure—and all of the professional and financial advancements that come with them. 

So what is a woman to do when she’s feeling stressed both at home and at work, with less support from her partner than she deserves in an equal and healthy partnership?

article-2695134-1fb4024500000578-653_634x766I wish I could tell you there’s a simple solution, but there’s not. Communicating to your partner that you’re feeling overwhelmed and believe you should work on dividing family tasks equally is a start. And if you’re not already in a committed relationship, don’t commit to a person who hasn’t demonstrated an ability to share housework; Sheryl Sandberg says that picking your partner is one of the most important decisions a woman makes.

But this is a larger social issue, where it’s hard for men to contribute to family work even when they want to, because we lack structures like guaranteed paternity leave. Policies like this would normalize men contributing more equally at home (and they have worked very well in countries like Sweden). Along the same vein, we act as if men who drive minivans or change diapers are “heroes” for “overcoming stereotypes”which would be totally cool if we praised women for these same behaviors, but we don’t. We also unfortunately judge women who try to compensate by taking off long periods of work to care for children, while accusing others of being cold or unmotherly for returning to work “too soon” after a child is born. It’s just truly hard for women to win here.

Fortunately, the situation isn’t hopeless. Businesses have the power to adopt new policies that give parents more flexibility and work-life balance. The government has the power to encourage these businesses to do so. And ultimately, the people have the power to speak the heck up…and do their part.

It all starts with one man picking up a toilet bowl brush.

She’s Still Got It

By Erika Harrington

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As a soon-to-be college graduate, getting ready to enter the workforce, I’ve got a bone to pick with baby boomers today that refuse to leave the workforce. You’ve had your fun, and now it’s my turn to know the joy of a steady paycheck, saved capital, and credit. And apparently you all are working longer because every generation gets healthier and healthier and live longer lives. Which is cool and all, but come on–can’t you enjoy your health in retirement?

Okay, okay. I know you don’t deserve all the blame. The economy and personal debt crises are making it difficult for you to leave the workforce even if you wanted to. We can all agree, regardless of age, that that is lame.

Now that I’m done with my typical “millennial whining,” I will say that I’m loving the new trend of unprecedentedly older women remaining in the workforce much longer than their predecessors. It’s a true sign of progress to see women, who in past generations would have been weeded out of their jobs because of domestic pressures, experiencing fulfillment at later stages of their career. This also adds an exciting new question to the conversation surrounding professional females: what is it like to be an older woman in the workforce?

Researchers Carol Atkinson, Jackie Ford, and Nancy Harding recognized the need to investigate this new demographic of professionals. They interviewed 51 year old HR Director, Flora, to ask about the rewards and obstacles of working in this stage of life. Let’s take a look at some of the aspects of her experiences.

For one, there’s mentoring. Flora explained that entering this stage comes with a great deal of uncertainty. She can’t look to older women in her life like her mother or friends, because she doesn’t know many women who worked this late into their life at all. That’s tough. Being a female in the workforce is hard enough at the start, but if women don’t feel like they have any mentors to look to for help in continuing their career throughout later parts of their life, they might not be motivated to keep at it. And a cycle continues–a cycle that limits the shelf life of our careers.

Then comes a crossover between ageism and sexism. The researchers also discussed the new environment that’ll be undoubtedly formed in the professional world as the number of older women working increased. This environment includes the overlap between sexism and ageism that older women would inevitably have to face. Flora, like many women, also took a break to tend to her family. Coming back with gaps in her career is an obstacle unique to older women.

The cringe-worthy questions have switched from “Do you plan on having kids? How are you going to balance that with this job?” to “Are you sure you didn’t fall behind during the time you took off for your kids?”

Tsourcehe beautiful thing is that women in their 50s and 60s are paving a new way that female professionals in the past have not. They’re dodging the loaded speech and breaking stereotypes so that maybe, just maybe, the next wave of ladies won’t have to.

So as a millennial about to enter the workforce, who is lucky to have so many women with 20+ years of experience in their fields, I would like to not only apologize from my sassiness earlier, but also thank you for being an example to look up to when I plan out my long term professional goals. Not only do you show me that I don’t have to cut my career short for any reason, but you show me what bravery looks like in a world of uncertainty.

Never quit makin’ that money.