The Women’s Center
Ask any woman, or enlightened man, and she – or he – will quickly tell you a number of reasons why a women’s center is a good idea.
- Work / life balance. In a recent synergize! survey 34% of respondents cited “work / life balance” as the greatest challenge women face in the workforce that men do not face. I would venture a guess – and maybe even a bet – that in your own family the man of the house does not provide at least 50% of child or domestic care.
Whether it comes to staying home with a sick child, going to the doctor’s or leaving work early when school closes due to unforeseen circumstances, in the majority of families the woman is the parent who provides the care.
Studies also indicate that when it comes to elder care the woman of the house provides the care for an aging parent – whether the parent is hers or not. Women who work full time while providing the majority of child care, risk providing sub-optimum performance in both realms. They cannot truly focus on work if there are problems at home.
Helping them balance these two important components of their lives makes for a happier – and more productive – employee.
- Unequal pay. It is a well known fact that women with the same credentials, expertise and experience are paid far less for the same job as men are.
In 1963 women were paid $.63 for every dollar a man made. That was the year President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act which went into effect in 1964, making it illegal to pay women a different amount for doing the same jobs as men. Yet, in spite of this, in 2011 the average woman was still paid only $.77 – $.85 for every dollar earned by the average man.
In fact, April 17, 2012 was deemed Equal Pay Day. Starting January 1, 2011, that is how long it took the average American woman to earn what the average American man earned by December 31, 2010. The next Equal Pay Day will be on April 9, 2013.
- Women don’t own our success. While men tend to overestimate their skills women tend to underestimate theirs. Studies have shown that men estimate their GPA’s as higher than they really were; while women estimated theirs as lower.
Similarly, men also tend to attribute their success to skill, while women tend to attribute theirs to outside sources, such as “luck.” This may be why women ask for raises 87% less often than men, and why we ask for 30% less than men ask for.
- Women don’t ask for what they want. In her book, Understanding Your Value, author Mika Brzezinski shared a story about Sheryl Sandberg, former Chief of Staff of the US Treasury and former Vice President of Global Online Sales for Google.
Toward the end of a presentation to a mixed gender group of college students Ms. Sandberg stated she would take just one more question. Several questions later and after the lecture ended she was speaking with a young woman who had been in the audience.
“Did you learn anything in today’s lecture?” she asked the young woman.
“Yes. I learned to keep my hand up,” the woman replied.
“Keep your hand up?”
“Yes. I noticed that as soon as you said you would take one more question all the women’s hands went down. But the men kept their hands up and you continued to call on them. I learned to keep my hand up.”
- All women are not created equal. On average women are better educated than men. They earn three college degrees for every two earned by men. They obtain more master’s degrees than men and comprise 43% of all MBA’s.
Yet they also comprise only 17% of Congress and less than 3% of Fortune 500 companies have a woman at the helm.
The US also ranks #72 of 189 countries with regards to the proportion of women in the national legislature, behind France, Pakistan and Afghanistan.Women also hold less than 20% of the top spots in business, law and academia.
- There is a subconscious bias against women. Men are considered not only to be more valuable employees, but they are also ascribed more leadership qualities than women are.
When identifying information was removed from resumes and then given female or male names, males were consistently considered to have more leadership potential than women did – even on resumes on which the only difference was the name.
In a similar study of performance evaluations, those ascribed to women were consistently devalued and rated lower than men.
This probably doesn’t come as a surprise. But the fact that this subconscious bias is exhibited by women as well as men might.
- Women are not taken seriously. Although this is not backed by a scientific study two comments made to me personally, both by men, give anecdotal credence to this. I would venture to say that any woman could provide equally appalling examples of not being taken seriously.
The first: “What we really need is a nice-looking female to sell for us.” Can you imagine a woman saying, “What we really need is a nice-looking man to sell for us?” Highly doubtful.
And the second: “If you want to make more money you should cook, clean or do laundry.” Can you imagine a man saying that to another man? Again, highly doubtful.
Women face challenges men would shake their heads at, and perhaps not believe.
From being hired to performance evaluations to how we conduct business we have to work twice as hard as men to get half the recognition.
Or, as Ginger Rogers said, “Women have to do the same steps as men – only we do them backwards and in high heels.”
Contact us for more information about the Women’s Center