Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Women in the workplace

Good article in the Economist.

Huge improvements all round, but economics is all about trade-offs.
But the biggest reason why women remain frustrated is more profound: many women are forced to choose between motherhood and careers. Childless women in corporate America earn almost as much as men. Mothers with partners earn less and single mothers much less. The cost of motherhood is particularly steep for fast-track women.
This is in line with what Chris Dillow reported sometime back.
Controlling for obvious things like education and occupation, lesbians earn 11% more than heterosexual women. Most of the male-female pay gap, then, is a penalty for heterosexual women only, not for women in general.
I was just happy to see that there is some data throwing light on this controversy, but there are consequences
Many professional women reject motherhood entirely; in Switzerland 40% of them are childless. Others delay child-bearing for so long that they are forced into the arms of the booming fertility industry. Some choose not to work at all, representing a loss to collective investment in talent.
The article also seems to be suggesting that children might be suffering because their parents are not spending time with them, but offers little evidence for this.
A survey for the Children’s Society, a British charity, found that 60% of parents agreed that “nowadays parents aren’t able to spend enough time with their children”. In a similar survey in America 74% of parents said that they did not have enough time for their children.
This could just be a case of parent's feeling guilty.
British children brought up in two-parent families where only one parent works are almost three times more likely to be poor than children with two parents at work.
This statement, of course, does not tell us which is cause and which effect, or even if something else is causing both.

There is some good news
Many talented women are already hopping off the corporate treadmill to form companies that better meet their needs. In the past decade the number of privately owned companies started by women in America has increased twice as fast as the number owned by men. Women-owned companies employ more people than the largest 500 companies combined. Eden McCallum and Axiom Legal have applied a network model to their respective fields of management consultancy and legal services: network members work when it suits them and the companies use their scale to make sure that clients have their problems dealt with immediately.

No comments: