Tag Archives: Career woman

If I see one more irresponsible gender wage gap article, I’ll scream!

Link: These are the 30 office jobs with the biggest gender pay gaps

The link above is from Business Insider, but there are a ton more totally superficial, uninformed, and infuriating articles like it. (And from reputable sources. See Fortune, and USA Today, and Washington Post.)

Is there a reduction in income when women take time off to have kids? Sure! No one (I hope) debates that. But I’m not sure it’s such an awful thing. Articles use words with negative connotations, like motherhood “penalty” or “tax” to describe it, and some articles and organizations promote the idea that adjustments should be made to make up for the lost income. I don’t agree. If someone is paid appropriately for valuable contributions in a job, and that person takes time off and gives up experience and opportunity to do something else, I would not expect that person to be paid equally upon return to the work force. Simply put: value in = pay out.

Many oversimplify the issue by pointing to the woman who took five years off to raise kids and not work professionally at all during that time (which by the way, is probably rarer these days than people think given the economy and what it costs to raise a family). However, I think a large part of the gender wage gap explanation that isn’t discussed is about the woman simply choosing to work more flexibly (off hours, fewer hours) which translates to less pay. And that’s OK. I’m not sure that’s a “problem” that needs to be “fixed” as many (including President Obama in his State of the Union speech) argue.

Put it this way: If you asked me whether I would prefer (a) a job that will always pay exactly what my male colleagues get for valuable contributions but allows very little flexibility, or (b) a job that will pay for my valuable contributions but gives me all the flexibility I want, I will pick (b) every time. And I bet if you asked around, most women – especially moms – would do the same. And they do.

Gaps in pay are generally attributable to some common-sense factors, and these include things like experience, skills, educational background, standard of living where the job is, and risks involved with the job (hazard pay).

Beyond these factors, however, there is one other that helps to explain the gender wage gap that these frustrating articles never talk about: gender wage differences exist in jobs with the highest degree of what Claudia Goldin out of Harvard calls “temporal flexibility” – jobs in which women can control their hours more, still do valuable but scaled back work, opt out of certain traditional office hours in order to work off-line earlier or later, and so on. Goldin found that a lot of professional jobs where the wage gap exists do, in fact, allow for people to run individual practices or otherwise be self-employed, and it is in those types of professions where that temporal flexibility exists.

Here is a great interview with Goldin from Marketplace’s Freakonomics series:

http://freakonomics.com/podcast/the-true-story-of-the-gender-pay-gap-a-new-freakonomics-radio-podcast/

The temporal flexibility concept is very hard to control for in studies and analytics because (1) the data collection systems do not account for it, and (2) it is difficult to define appropriate proxies in the existing data to try to account for it. Really, all I would like to see is the mere mention of this very real factor in the reporting of the “flat” income numbers that are thrown out by the media all the time!

 

Advertisements

Mommy Wars to the extreme

In Germany, the Mommy Wars are taking a turn for the worst.

Regretting motherhood’ debate rages in Germany

When the societal pressure to keep up a ridiculous standard of motherhood, in large part defined by men who are biologically incapable of having children, becomes the norm, something just isn’t right.

The notion that children’s well-being depends on their mothers and not on the society around them or their fathers, is deeply entrenched in Germany and creates real obstacles to women’s careers. … A mother who returns to the office without taking maternity leave for a year — or often three — opens herself up to being branded a “Rabenmutter” (raven mother) — women who dump their kids in childcare so they can pursue their personal goals.

Women regretting having children because they feel they can’t do it the way they see fit? It’s a sad day.

 

How my business thinking (and talking) changed between ages 30 and 40

30: I’m sorry, but I’m not sure I agree.
40: I don’t agree with you.

30: I should change what I’m doing because of their feedback.
40: I considered the feedback and will change only the parts I need to.

30: I should do it his way.
40: I’m going to do it my way because I think it will be more effective. If he doesn’t like it, T.S. I guess we’ll see how it turns out.

30: If I make the wrong decision, I’m done for.
40: If I make the wrong decision, I have a plan to course-correct.

30: I’ve got to figure all of this out on my own to prove I’ve got the chops.
40: I’ve mastered what I know, and I’m aware of my blind spots. I’m going to stop wasting time and instead talk to people more informed.

30: I have to dress very formally and conservatively to be taken seriously.
40: I can combine professionalism and style and feel great.

30: I’m in competition with so-and-so.
40: My work will speak for itself.

30: I wonder what my boss will think of me.
40: I wonder what my daughter will think of me.

Have any to add? Share in comments!

Go ahead and stir the pot! Being provocative and disagreeing to move the conversation forward

This morning, I was on a panel at BIO International Convention in San Francisco to discuss what digital health technologies can learn from the experience of personalized medicine. I was invited to participate with esteemed colleagues (all female, by the way!) representing various aspects of the health care technology sector: physician, investor, data and evidence analyst, and payer strategist (yours truly).

We were well prepared going into the panel session, with multiple conference calls to coordinate on who will share what, and which case studies were relevant and insightful. I was excited to participate in this collaborative session, and I was looking forward to engaging audience members.

In fact, the content was so engaging that I admit I totally went off-script. When you are passionate about ensuring people take away important lessons from the panel, sometimes you just have to move off the softball content into provocative territory.

If it means I get pegged as the Debbie Downer, so be it.

If it means I provide the perspective of unpopular stakeholders, those who are often used as scapegoats, so be it.

If it means telling people what they don’t want to hear, so be it.

I’ve done my job.

The session was fantastic, and my fellow panelists were gracious and inclusive. But I admit that I am most proud of challenging assumptions, exposing inherent flaws in the system, and moving us away from what others should do to what we can do.

Coming into the light

I went through a dark time a few months ago where I felt like my kid needed 50% of me, my husband needed another 50%, my job needed its 50%, my other family and friends needed 50%… so I was either doing fantastically at a few aspects of my life and failing miserably at everything else, or I was failing at everything at once.

Also, notice how there was not a percentage of demands made for myself. Every day, I made choices to sacrifice my own sleep, emotional and mental well-being, diet, exercise – forget about fun and relaxation, ha! – for someone or something else. I went days and days without a chunk of time for myself – or, if I did have a moment to myself, it was clouded with guilt and indecision.

And people from different aspects of my life were not kind. I was told how I was failing and in what ways. People disappeared from my life instead of hanging in there. More importantly, I got no offers of help. Maybe it’s because I tried to shield people from how hard it was for me.

These conditions resulted in occasional emotional blow-outs to my loved ones or having to take mental health days from work with no notice to my colleagues because I. Just. Can’t. Take. It. Anymore!

Then, something happened. I started to communicate what I needed. (I’ll be honest, I did not often do it in the most eloquent of ways – yelling and breakdowns and tears don’t often fall into the category of optimal communication in my opinion, but if I’m at least stating my needs through it all, I say: whatever works.)

I’ve read that one should push through the inconvenience, the discomfort, the conflict of communicating your needs (should I say, especially women?) in order to realize balance in life, but I couldn’t, I just couldn’t… until I had no choice to do so because the alternative – the status quo – hit such a level of unacceptable that there was nothing else to do.

Was it inconvenient, uncomfortable, and conflict-generating? HELL YEAH IT WAS. And on the other side, I have the support of a loving husband, a happily dancing-tantrumming-singing-tantrumming-laughing child, more respect in the work place and among clients, and sleep.

Y’all, I said I’m getting some sleeeeeep.

Who knows how long it will last? Life will throw another curve at me, boy do I know it, but I will relish what I can for now. And if I need something from you, you’ll hear about it.

 

My definition of leadership

Isn’t leadership nothing more sophisticated than being a reflection of what matters to you and what works for you?

It seems to me that those who inspire feel inspired themselves, and are only reflecting their own passion and excitement. They don’t seem to be wrapped up in trying to be a leader.

What drives us as individuals can be the cornerstone to leadership. Therefore, if you are stifled or uninspired, being a leader will not result.

This also means that we can all be leaders in our own ways. No need to strive to lead the way another does; find your passions and you will lead in your own special way.

ESPN as part of my business strategy

I like sports, I do. I like for local teams to do well, and I root for them.

But I no longer watch games or go to games since the promotion to executive and having a kid. There’s always the park to get to, finger painting to do, or that deadline to meet.

One thing I learned a few years ago was to watch ESPN at the hotel whenever I was away on business. (Actually, what I learned was that it really sucked and I hated to be in a meeting of men while they talked about “the game” and I had nothing to contribute because I didn’t watch said game.) It happened 99% of my meetings. I discovered that watching Sports Center that morning gave me all the headlines I needed to be aware of in order to avoid sitting there like a lump with a stupid smile on my face, waiting for the conversation to turn or burn out. Maybe I could follow it, or contribute.

Same with kids. Before I had one, trading stories about their kids was The Great Icebreaker if sports wasn’t the go-to topic.

Them: “Have kids?”
Me: “No, I don’t.”
Them: “Not yet? Planning on them?”
Me: stewing with a clipped smile, considering telling them about my 3 miscarriages to put the Q&A to rest already…

Small talk in business circles can be very awkward. Sports and kids/parenting are considered universal enough to tread upon. But let’s be clear: they’re not actually universal. I’m not suggesting people avoid these topics altogether, but maybe we can talk about other things too, or be sensitive and aware of everyone around the table?