This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

November 17, 2004

Women Will Be More Desirable

More women are pursuing careers than ever before in history. Throughout the world, women are gaining more education, deeper wisdom, and higher effectiveness than in previous generations. They compete successfully with men and, in many cases, prove their superiority.

Increasing demand for highly competent women---as leaders, as professionals who can be counted on to get things done---will drive significant changes. Gender compensation equity is the easy response. Other changes require more creativity.

Talented women drop out of the world of work because they perceive that employers do not appreciate their value. The central issue is life-work balance, as employers force women to choose between family and career. Women will make choices with their feet, moving to employers who are sensitive to their issues, giving those wise companies a competitive advantage.

The Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers recently asked 535 women about work and family balance and other professional issues. Survey results revealed that 59 percent of pharmacists had children, while just 24 percent of engineers and 21 percent of architects began families.

Pharmacists were also the most likely not to work full-time, with 64 percent working either part-time, on an hourly contract rate or another form of flexible employment. By comparison, 86 percent of engineers worked full-time. Less than half of the business managers, scientists and computing professionals had children. While training topped respondents' wishes for employer benefits, 57 percent wanted more flexible hours, 48 percent wanted parental leave, and nearly a third wanted extended leave on half-pay.

The prevailing workplace culture makes it difficult for many women to mix work and family life, with many full-time professionals working an average of four hours a week above the standard work week. Rigidity of working hours for some professionals inhibits family life, limiting opportunities for part-time or flexible hours, including weekends and nights. Women, the traditional family caregivers, are forced to choose between applying their occupational skills, education, and experience or leaving those hard-earned assets behind to concentrate on and enjoy motherhood.

Wise employers will create arrangements to enable female employees to achieve the balance they seek.

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