Friday, November 6, 2009

Women Breadwinners

According to the recently released Shriver Report, women comprise 50% of today's workforce. Is it time to strike up a chorus of "Sisters are Doin' it For Themselves?"

Well, maybe not. Women are making up more of the workforce because three-quarters of those laid off in the economic crisis have been men. Women continue to earn less for the same work as men. So perhaps companies are retaining their women instead of their men as a cost-saving measure, the way a corporation might move its operations to Mexico where wages are lower.

Canadian journalist Leah McLaren at the Globe and Mail writes:

Despite working harder and in greater numbers than ever before, women are still earning less than men in the same jobs over all and taking most of the responsibility for housework and child care.

In essence, the plight of women is like that old morale-boosting management trick: the no-compensation promotion (also known as the non-raise raise). It's all very flattering until you realize that you have just taken on twice as much work and responsibility for no extra pay or respect...

I'm not saying that men don't work hard – just that, when they do, they are much better at reaping the benefits of success. While men work toward outward status – the double brass ring of power and success – women tend to be driven by intrinsic reasons: duty, loyalty, the need to be “good.”

Joanne Lipman, the former deputy managing editor of The Wall Street Journal and editor-in-chief of Portfolio magazine, recently wrote an op-ed piece for The New York Times responding to the Shriver Report. In it, she revealed that, during her years as an editor, “many, many men have come through my door asking for a raise or demanding a promotion. Guess how many women have ever asked me for a promotion? I'll tell you. Exactly… zero.”