Not that long ago, it was common for only one parent – typically the father – to work, supporting a family of three to four children and a stay-at-home mom. But, of course, times changed and women entered the working world in droves. Currently, they make up more than half of the North American workforce, and this cultural and socioeconomic shift has presented women with many choices and challenges: Forego a family for corporate success? Sideline career goals to raise kids? Or somehow juggle both? And with time, these questions have become even more daunting as work-life balance becomes more out of whack and the cost of living, including child care expenses, continues to increase despite more than 20 years of virtually stagnant income growth. In fact, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Canada’s highest earning two-working-parent families spend 18% of their net income on child care expenses – the fifth highest out of 30 industrialized countries that were studied. Considering this statistic, it’s no wonder that over two-thirds of Canadian women with children under the age of five are in fact working. Conversely, in some regions, a woman may choose to be a stay-at-home mom simply because the cost of daycare outweighs what she would make going back to work. But what happens when that stay-at-home mom decides to go back to work? Read more
Posts tagged ‘female stereotypes’
Women in engineering have, unfortunately, always been a rarity. The same can be said of women in technology, specifically information technology, as well as other technical fields, including mathematics and science. In Canada alone, the amount of women in engineering programs has declined from 21% in 2001 to just 17% in 2009, with only 10% of licensed engineers being women. Likewise, according to the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC), in 2009, women only made up about 25% of those in information and communication technology studies. And this trend is not unique to Canada; engineering and technology suffer the similar deficits in the US and the UK. In fact, according to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), women make up only about 25% of those pursuing an education in science, technology, engineering, and/or mathematics – the so-called STEM segment.
Once upon a time, ridiculous stereotypes perpetuated the idea that women aren’t as capable in the technical fields as men. Of course, long since those stereotypes began, study after study has disproven them. So, if women can perform just as well as men in engineering and technology roles, the questions remain: Why aren’t there more women in engineering? Why aren’t there more women in technology? Some of the possible answers to these questions are disturbing, suggesting widespread sexual discrimination within the engineering and technology industries and/or that our society still clings to long-held, incorrect assumptions about half of the population. In fact, the absence of nearly half the potential workforce in what are arguably Canada’s most crucial sectors is not only a moral shame, but possibly also a looming economic one. Diversity, be it among the sexes, among cultures, or among age groups, allows for more creativity and innovation. Without diversity, teams, companies, and entire industries can easily become intellectually stagnant. Read more
Many of us know her. She’s always cheerful, quick to provide professional and personal advice, frequently brings in homemade goodies, and is everyone’s shoulder to lean on. And now, thanks to The Wall Street Journal as of about a month and a half ago, she has joined the illustrious likes of the office gossip, the office grump, the office clown, and many more. She is the “office mom”; the mother hen of the white collar world, and the latest addition to a long list of office stereotypes – and specifically female stereotypes based on women in the workplace.
In honour of Mother’s Day this month, let’s take a more critical lens to the so-called office mom who, as The Wall Street Journal notes, may not even necessarily be an actual mother. Despite that, however, every office mom out there earned that title by embodying all the wonderful characteristics associated with motherliness: compassion, attention, and affection. She’s the warm ray of sunshine in an otherwise cold corporate slough. So what’s wrong with that? As female stereotypes go, especially surrounding women in the workplace, is that not a welcome foil to the high-powered “wicked witch”? Or, like the wicked witch, is the office mom simply today’s version of a Shakespearean archetype, plodding through the same tired plot in which all powerful women are definitively evil, and all good women are innately weak?