Skip to main content

By 2022, We'll Need Huge Binders For All the Women

Binders full of women. When Gov. Romney uttered this phrase last night while talking about workplace inequality, it became an instant Internet meme. Trap her, keep her!

Gov. Romney's "binders full of women" comment caught my ear, because I immediately thought of a new Booz and Co. survey that I wasn't going to blog about that says one billion women will enter the workforce worldwide over the coming decade. Man, employers will need to invest in some awfully big binders, and soon! Maybe microfiche or bigger servers will be in order? Or maybe we can store working women in "the cloud"? We do live in the digital age, after all.

Young women in particular aren't feeling partly-cloudy about their career prospects: A new Pew Research Center survey finds more young women than young men in the 18-to-34 age range value starting a high-paying career. Exactly two-thirds (66%) of the young women Pew surveyed said that getting their careers going is their number-one priority, compared to 59% of young men. Plus, there are at least 10 advantages to being a woman in the workplace these days. Sisters are doing it for themselves.

But U.S. working women are still struggling to move up the ladder and earn good money, according to Booz and Co. Business Strategist and Partner Penney Frohling:

"In the U.S…there are women living hand-to-mouth in low-waged jobs and 41 percent of their salaries are taken over by childcare costs — so there's really no way of getting ahead when you're facing those kind of [obstacles]," she said.

Ah, childcare. The stuffed elephant in the conference room of any good salary and work-life balance discussion.

If working women are choosing motherhood at all, that is. The number of American women exiting their child-bearing years without children in tow has doubled. And what about American women who are turning to self-employment, either full-time or part-time, as a means of self-fulfillment and work-life balance? Personally speaking, it would sure be nice to see self-employed women running one-person micro-businesses become a part of the candidates' workplace discussions, too. Not every working woman wants to be a Fortune 500 employee, but our political debates and punditry round-ups can sure make it sound that way sometimes. It's far past time to add more employment diversity to the discussion.

Personally, I was stunned by Gov. Romney's comments on women in the workplace and equal pay. If women are going to be in the workplace? Women already comprise more than half the U.S. workforce, and our ranks are only going to grow. For the vast majority of women, it's not a question of if they work outside the home, but when.

American families of all forms, shapes and sizes are doing what we need to do to get by in this economy. We're busy trying to make work work for us, and all families are unique ecosystems. It's getting harder and harder to generalize about family issues -- however each of us defines the term "family" -- and that's why it's so hard to find a one-size-fits-all solution. But we -- employers, employees, and our elected leaders -- should keep trying to find new, innovative ways to make work work for all of us. Maybe the best answer is sitting in a big binder somewhere. Or in the cloud.


Popular posts from this blog

Seven tips for dealing with a jealous coworker

Look at you, doing so well at work! We're so happy for you. Well, most of us are happy for you and refuse to spend the entire work day talking behind your back. Let's talk about how to handle our jealous co-workers!Like every other professional, you've no doubt experienced your share of failures and successes. Lately, however, things seem to be going your way at work. And how! Perhaps you've managed to ace an important project this quarter, been instrumental in landing a huge client, earned some well-deserved rewards for this and that, or -- egads! -- been given a slight promotion or additional work responsibilities (e.g., the work responsibilities you actually want).You're quietly chuffed, but somehow your co-workers seem none too pleased with this rapid turn of events. Oh no, what should you do now?It's a workplace tale older than the disjointed last season of Mad Men. The playing field in the department was even, cozy and overall very friendly -- until so-an…

Employees Blame Technology For Slowing Them Down At Work

Do you feel like you're always working, but never getting very much done? If so, you're not alone. Too much technology, and too much red tape, keep slowing us down at work. But technology, and more of it, is supposed to make our lives easier! Too much technology, however, does not compute for employees. A new SAP/Knowledge@Wharton survey of almost 700 corporate employees finds a full 60% of respondents blame technology "for inhibiting their ability to meet strategic goals." Gee, anyone who has ever used the self-checkout line at the grocery store can tell you that. However, 40% surveyed said that looking for ways to simplify the technology has been "a low priority" for their company. Too much paperwork is an on-going problem for the workplace, too. A new ServiceNow survey of nearly 1,000 managers finds that 90% are doing too much administrative work, no matter the size of the company. This paperwork includes filling out forms, writing status updates, …

Is Your Co-worker Always Late For Work?

You've started the workday, but where is your co-worker? Oh, she's running late again, just like yesterday. And the day before. And the day before that. Let's get an early start on solving her tardiness problem, shall we? Working with someone who is consistently late is one of the most annoying aspects of office life, and also one of the most common, unfortunately. It's a universal theme of the workplace that everyone will get to work on time (give or take a few minutes...) except for the employee who is egregiously late nearly every day. And the excuses can get pretty amazing. Employees became more punctual as the Great Recession lingered, at least according to surveys. Everyone, that is, except for your able-bodied but habitually-tardy co-worker. It's bad enough dealing with tardiness when you're a manager, but it can be even more frustrating when you're a rank-and-file peer without any magical "shape up or ship out" managerial powers. So you…