The balancing act with the disruption caused by the coronavirus, may be more aptly referred to as an “unbalancing” act. As the virus continues to spread across the U.S., both men and women are considering how to divvy out household responsibilities and juggle work and family obligations. Greater gender diversity in the workforce is limited due to two primary reasons. The first is what is called the “double burden” syndrome, where women are responsible for work and the majority of the home responsibilities. The second barrier is the “anytime, anywhere” performance model, which calls for employees, particularly management, to make themselves available with great agility. The interrelationship between these two barriers – “double burden” syndrome meets “anytime, anywhere” performance – creates an obvious challenge to women in the workforce. This challenge is further exacerbated by the fact that during the Pandemic, women are spending 15 hours more a week on domestic labor than men (65 v 50 hours) compared with a pre-Covid balance of 10 hours more a week (35 v 25 hours) as per a recent Boston Consulting Group survey.
The pandemic has shown the spotlight on how deep rooted and obstinate traditional gender roles and pay disparities can be. It has also highlighted how women’s careers often take a back seat when duty calls which can be witnessed by the quick escalation in the percentage of women who were considering quitting their jobs to 14%. Further “breaking down the data by race, 26% of Hispanic women who responded to the survey said they were considering quitting their jobs, compared with 15% of both black and Asian women and 12% of white women.” As per Joan Williams, the found of the Center for WorkLife Law, “opening economies without schooling and child care is a recipe for a generational wipeout of mothers’ careers”.
Here are 5 simple steps that women can take to create a fairer distribution of the workload in their lives today so they can better balance in the current climate –
- Inventory – What really needs to be done?
- Observe – In our current situation, this is a simple way to watch what people do and how you feel about them doing it.
- Communicate – Talk about what’s working and what’s not. Share how you envision things working.
- Gratitude – When you do observe someone in your household doing household chore, affirm and acknowledge with a big thank you.
- Full ownership – If someone steps up to a responsibility, hand it off and let them manage it start to finish.
Sources: Portions adapted from Worldly Women
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