Women at Work: Workforce recognition for women is gradually improving

October 8, 2018

I am not much of a complainer when it comes to the jobs I had in the past, the duties required to be successful in a specific position, nor the extra “tasks” that I automatically did just to make the office run smoothly. In fact, I have discovered that doing the extras around the office was more often noticed than not, and it garnered brownie points, though I did not know it at the time.

Perhaps this was simply the way I was raised — pitch in, work hard and get it done. This is a trait I have taught my children as they navigated their way through teenage-dom and into the workforce. The girls have definitely picked up on just getting it done and doing the “extras” if necessary, and have commented they are often complimented on things they believe go unnoticed. It doesn’t hurt to go the extra mile, and oftentimes, it is less painful than complaining about it.

Doing the extras around the office or workplace has a term, and that is “office housework.” It is just one of many shockingly outdated problems women face at work. Not all women are OK with performing office housework, and if excessive, I can understand why.

Think back to the last meeting you were in and everyone’s coffee cup runs dry. Did you get a slight nod from a male counterpart directing you to run get the coffee pot and fill everyone up? Whether you are the newbie in the office or the highest-ranking female in the room, inevitably this task falls on a woman.

What other tasks are covered in office housework? Well, meeting preparation and note taking, party planning and other crap no one else wants to do. Without someone to do these things, the office would fall apart.

When turnover happens with staff members who have been employed less than two years, most managers look toward their orientation and on-boarding, mentorship program or less-than-educational training methods as the reason. Believe it or not, women start out slightly more ambitious than men, but their hope for success is sucked out of them like a bug circling the drain. After two years, the average women’s aspirations and confidence tank by 60 percent. For men, the drop is only 10 percent, as they carry confidence knowing they have a high chance for upward mobility.

Hand in hand with upward mobility comes being given credit for the work performed. If you ask workers who work together in a group who contributed the most, a controversy worse than asking if you voted for Donald Trump would arise. There are stereotypical qualities such as leadership, decision-making and execution that tend to swing toward the masculine type. So for women, promoting their hard work and getting credit for a job well done is difficult. Like I have done here and there in the past, most women tend to stay quiet about the work they are proud of in hopes someone important takes notice.

And lastly, yes, the wage gap is still one of the most outdated problems a woman in the workforce can face. A study of almost 10,000 MBA graduates, most of whom were young and childless, found that women were getting starting salaries $15,000 below what men were offered. This holds true for most professions, even in traditionally female-dominated fields such as nursing.

On the plus side of the wage gap, it is actually shrinking. If the worldwide trends are accurate, men and women will achieve salary equality around the year 2133. Get excited, ladies, our time is coming!

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