Breaking the mold: How strong women in the workforce starts with true equality at home
If you blast back to the past around the 1940’s not only would you see an entirely different dress code, but you’d see only 3.8% of women were college graduates. A mere 80 years later (a blip in the scale of history) and we are up to 38.3% in 2020. This is an amazing jump, but when you look at women staying in the workforce, yet women staying in the workforce has had a steep decline when they hit 30, and once you get up to the higher ranks of businesses, only 8% of CEO’s at Fortune 500 companies are women. Regardless of what big companies tell us, we are still almost expected to quit our jobs after having children or in some cases marrying someone that makes enough money to support us.
Now listen, you can honestly do whatever you want. And if you want to leave work after having kids for a few years, DO THAT. If you want to take your maternity leave and come back, DO THAT. But until a break in your resume for children isn’t such a big deal and we stop making and getting comments like “so are you JUST going to go be a mom for a few years?”, there are still plenty of stigmas to get worked out.
Maybe you already know all this. Maybe you are reading this saying, cool Diane, but WHAT can we do about it? The first small thing we need to do is fortunately closer to home than you think.
We need to make our partners a real partner. Typically, the woman still has most household responsibilities, but when she has a full time job in addition it is either very stressful or impossible to keep up on. I’m going to be 100% transparent, this is still something we are always working on in our household. Sometimes because of my job flexibility, I do more of the supporting role at one point or another. But it is very fluid. I have always said that we are interchangeable. I know my husband can manage the household and kids just fine without me, and vice versa. But the balance comes from splitting the duties.
Sometimes it is before, but it all starts with the birth of a child. Women don’t have much maternity leave but men have even less if any at all paternity leave. Even when leave is granted social stigmas sometimes prevent some from taking it. Parental leave for both would help ensure partners get to work together as a family, and learn how they function together. A new baby can rock your world (and second and third for that matter) and a new normal has to be developed, which cannot be done in a matter of days.
Once we had kids, we outsourced one very important thing: The household cleaning. Everyday picking up still needs to happen but a majority of the vacuuming/mopping/toilet cleaning happens when the cleaners come! Knowing what you and your partner are willing to split and what you’d rather outsource is a big step.
Often as women, we accept having to do all the household duties.
More often than not, we grew up with a stay at home mom and just see that as the only option. Other times, it is because that is what was cemented during our maternity leave and that is what stuck. Either way, we all have to learn to make this the new normal. That you both come home from work and divide tasks to conquer them. It starts with your partner folding the laundry instead of you. With one person putting the kids to bed while the other does the daily cleaning so you can both relax at the end of the day. And sometimes it is all about one person cooking while the other cleans to be able to sit down and enjoy a meal as a family.
Like I said, we aren’t perfect either. Sometimes the roles are less equal, and it takes a conscious effort to get back to it. But being a work in progress is half the battle.
I’d love to hear how you balance duties, tell me in the comments below!
Until next time, Diane
PS If you want to read more and have a discussion- I love this article from Forbes about recent issues around the pandemic.
PPS All the women featured in this post are insanely strong and driven! Actually that is something ALL of the women I photograph are