Women have come closer to complete equality with men in the workplace in terms of salary, advancement, level of education, and other key indicators.
However, there is one significant exception to this new trend: working mothers.
A recent New York Times article by David Leonhardt, a writer who I greatly admire, discusses the forward advancement of women in the workplace, along with statistics that reference the mothers, who are actually losing ground.
“Women do almost as well as men today,” said Jane Waldfogel, a Columbia University professor quoted by Leonhardt, “as long as they don’t have children.”
As an important side note, it’s actually not the mothers but caregivers who are not making great strides in the workplace. When Dad is the primary caregiver, he can expect his career to take the hit just as quickly.
What does this say about the need for greater flexibility in the workplace? These are changes that cannot come fast enough.
It is evident that people who take time off from their careers for any reason are not able to pick up where they left off. In a downward economy that can amount to never again regaining the ground that was lost. Therefore, the more we can do to allow people the ability to stay in their careers while making time for other life pursuits, the better.
“The main barrier,” writes Leonhardt, “is the harsh price most workers pay for pursuing anything other than the old-fashioned career path.”
What about those who suggest that the current system is perfectly fair? Burning the candle at both ends for twenty years straight without a single vacation day, because that ought to earn you something? Or are we asking ourselves the wrong question?
The single-minded pursuit of a successful career, to the exclusion of all else that life has to offer, is the way to go for some people. However, this should be a lifestyle choice, not the sole, narrow path to the top of the career world.
What must we do to change that?