retail news in context, analysis with attitude

There was a long piece in the New York Times focusing on what would appear to be a statistical oddity: "While rates of employment for women have been rising in other countries, they have declined in the United States, falling to 69 percent from 74 percent."

An excerpt:

"As recently as 1990, the United States had one of the top employment rates in the world for women, but it has now fallen behind many European countries. After climbing for six decades, the percentage of women in the American work force peaked in 1999, at 74 percent for women between 25 and 54. It has fallen since, to 69 percent today.

"In many other countries, however, the percentage of working women has continued to climb. Switzerland, Australia, Germany and France now outrank the United States in prime-age women’s labor force participation, as do Canada and Japan.

"While the downturn and the weak economy of recent years have eliminated many of the jobs women held, a lack of family-friendly policies also appears to have contributed to the lower rate. In a New York Times/CBS News/Kaiser Family Foundation poll of nonworking adults aged 25 to 54 in the United States, conducted last month, 61 percent of women said family responsibilities were a reason they weren’t working, compared with 37 percent of men."

The story suggests that women are unwilling to make the trade-offs that men are willing to make; they would work if offered flexible hours, the ability to work from home, and help with childcare.

The Times goes on: "Many women also seem interested in working again — under the right conditions. And near the top of the list of those requirements is the flexibility to avoid upending their family life. Many fewer women than men said they would be willing to take a job with trade-offs that might significantly affect their lives: moving to a different city, commuting more than an hour each way, or working nontraditional hours."

You can read the entire story here
KC's View:
I could be wrong about this, but in reading about this study I had the feeling that it was the kind of research that is likely to be challenged at some point.

I also had the feeling in reading the story that it somehow will give license to folks who will argue that this is the reason that women should not be paid as much as men - that they don't want to work as hard, won't make the same kind of commitment, and are looking to make their lives easier.

Which, if I may address this attitude even before I get the inevitable emails, strikes me as so much crap.

The story is more about women who are not taking jobs that those who have them. And it is my experience with women in the workplace that while they may have priorities in addition to their jobs, they also tend to work harder, faster, smarter, more collaboratively and with a heightened focus.

I also found this passage amusing:

"The experience of not working is also considerably more positive for women than men, the poll shows, which means that women are often not desperate to return to work. Women are more likely to say that not working has improved their romantic relationships, while men are more likely to say those relationships have suffered. Women who aren’t working spend more time exercising than they once did. Men spend less."