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Harvard Professor: “Greedy Jobs” Continue to Hold Back Women Workers Despite Progress

HArvard professor Claudia Goldin had been working on her latest book about career, family and women for years when the coronavirus pandemic hit. Fine-tuned edits and a lecture from the home she shares in Cambridge, Massachusetts with her husband and their performance dog, Pika, was, she says, a “moment of exhilaration.”

“That’s when I started to realize that the book had to be infused – not remade – but infused with the present,” she says. The independent.

“I realized that everything I had been working on, it was like I had created a magnifying glass that looked at the current time period,” she says. “As a historian, I’m used to looking at a distant period and making it current – and suddenly I realized that I was using the past to look at the present in a way that I hadn’t thought about it.”

The pandemic abruptly and fundamentally changed the workplace in a way that “was very scary, because you were sort of living through a period (in which) you had no idea what was going to happen at the workplace.” “other end of the line,” explains Professor Goldin. The Independent. “We still don’t have a clear idea. And so I started rewriting more with the present moment in mind.

His new book, Career and family: women’s century-long journey toward equitynot only traces women’s progress in the workplace and ongoing challenges, but also do integrate recent developments such as the widespread advent of remote working. Professor Goldin essentially posits that women and society are facing a “new, unnamed problem” – drawing on the reference coined by Betty Friedan.

Women are increasingly progressing educationally and professionally and wages are equalizing, writes Professor Goldin after meticulous analysis of years of data. Many start out on or near equal footing after college and early in their careers – but the gaps widen quickly based on the career choices of individuals and couples, as professionals consider childcare and as babies arrive, while women continue to take on the biggest role. part of the burden.

“That’s always been the problem, but the thing is, when you’re surrounded by bigger barriers, you often can’t see what the eventual problem is going to be,” she explains. The independent. “So I think over time there has been tremendous progress – and, over time, I think the clouds have cleared and we see what the real problem has been all along – but we haven’t really been able to explore this problem because we’ve had so many obstacles.

“If you can’t go out, you don’t know if it’s raining.”

One of the main problems amid the “tremendous progress” however is women’s adoption of what Professor Goldin calls “greedy jobs”, employing a term used in previous writings.

“A very simple explanation would be that if you work twice as many hours, you get more than twice the salary” in “greedy jobs,” she explains. The independent. “Of course, it’s not just about the number of hours, because women in many of the jobs we can list – finance, management, law, academia – work very many hours; they work 45 to 50 hours a week. So it’s not just about the number of hours, but which times: So is it dinner time? Is it the weekend? Is it the holidays? Is it two in the morning?

Women who start in these “greedy professions” therefore tend not to progress as far or as quickly in their careers as their male partners, because they take a step back to raise a family. Professor Goldin, among his impressive data and facts, inserts anecdotes to demonstrate this current and common pattern.

Covid has inadvertently shone a light on everything Professor Goldin had studied – but perhaps corporate and cultural changes could pave the way for recognizing the problems, persistent inequalities and potential solutions.

“It might backfire in some ways, but I think the very fact that companies seem to be learning – corporations, in particular, seem to be learning – that there’s no need to send teams to Tokyo for M&A, and that you don’t have to send teams to Tokyo to do M&A. I didn’t have to send another team to Zurich to negotiate the deal – that was a big deal,” she said.

The ongoing “unnamed problem,” however, will require more than just changes in corporate culture or business travel requirements. Instead, attitudes and social norms must continue to change.

Professor Goldin writes in the opening pages of his book: “We will never reach the bottom of the gender income gap until we understand the trajectory of the much larger problem of which it is a symptom . The gender pay gap is a result of the career gap; the career gap is at the origin of inequalities in couples.

Economics professor Henry Lee – who says she teaches “the extraordinary” – remains optimistic about all her research, however, as workplaces (and couples) continue to advance.

“I know many who share a wonderful life with… an equal and who have three children,” she says. The independent, adding, “I think back to what my incredible student said, which was when I asked ‘What would you like?’ She said, “I want a man who wants what I want.”

“She expressed it perfectly, and it can be done. This can be expensive for a while, but it just depends on how much you value the couple’s net worth. I see more and more couples around me who value the equity of the couple. And the men I see (…) are proud to have given up something to preserve the capital of their relationship.

She adds: “It’s not that they gave up something, it’s that they got something in return – which was time with their children. »

independent

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