Women and Work: Let's talk

BlogHer Original Post

This weekend, MomsRising and Feminism 2.0 invite us to talk about women and work. There’s a Twittercast on Sunday night with the inimitable Joan Williams (whose Unbending Gender is a classic). There are thought-provoking blog posts popping up online from leaders like Williams and Joan Blades, who co-founded MomsRising.

Williams writes on the Fem2.0 blog,

“The American workplace is perfectly suited for the American workforce… of the 1950s. Even today, when 46% of the U.S. workforce is made up of women and 81% of women have children by age 44, most good jobs in the U.S. (those with good benefits and pay and opportunities for advancement) are designed around the ideal of a worker who is available for and devoted to work 24/7, with no domestic responsibilities.”

Women have reported high levels of work life conflict (about 40% of women, according to the National study of the changing work force) for years now, because it’s so hard to find time for work and family. Many in my mom network were scared by an article today in the Washington Post that reports a decline in flexible work arrangements because of the recession. At BlogHer, we’ve figured out how to work in many different ways. Many of us online have traded some security and income for flex on our terms. Others in the BlogHer community work traditional schedules and habits. Some raise children and wonder whether we can or should re-enter the paid workforce. What are you thinking about? What have you learned that works for you and what can your work as a blogger teach others?

Here are some statistics about women and work:

According to the Department of Labor, the number of women in the labor force is projected to increase from 68.4 million in 2004 to 75.9 million in 2014- an almost 11% increase. Men’s participation will only increase by about 9% by 2014

Today women make up about half of all paid workers and two-thirds of the part-time work force. Wives bring in more than one-third (35 percent) of their families' total income--40 percent in African American households--and many women support families on their own.

16 of the 30 jobs with the fastest growth are health-related. Six are computer-related. The other fastest growing sectors are in environmental services and education. These are traditionally female-dominated fields (DOL statistics- Hot Jobs for the 21st Century).

What makes for real, valuable work? 73% of IBM’s managers manage a virtual team. And yet many of us are stuck in an outdated model of working, where being at our desk equals perceived performance. Those of us who want more than to live at the office fear we’ll pay a price. Mommytracking is an accepted part of our vernacular.

And yet, Joan Blades writes about her method of working smart, which

“means I work at home or wherever I happen to be, and so does everyone else I work with at MoveOn.org and MomsRising.org. It is hard for me to imagine a more efficient, effective, family-friendly and environmentally sound model for my work. I am amazed by how much staff gets done every day, and how well balanced my life is overall. If my daughter gets sick, I don’t miss work. I’m still able to do what needs to be done and also take care of her. I walk downstairs to work. I have great relationships with my co-workers… I just don’t actually see them in-person very often.”


You can join the campaign and the conversation to raise awareness about women and work in the following ways:

1. Blog about it by Saturday, March 28

2. Participate in this week's Twittercast Sunday night, March 29, 10 PM EST -- hashtag #fem2. If you need it, review how to join a Twittercast here.


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