Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Just a generation ago, women were largely confined to repetitive, menial jobs.

Women already outnumber men in post-secondary education — and soon, they will do so in the workforce — US anyway, and by extension, probably in Canada as well, and a number of the other OECD countries. It is cause for celebration, since this revolution has come about within a very short period of time — and it has been done without too many bodies at the side of the road and has, for the most part been accepted by the other sex. Women's ascension have given our society much to brag about.
Millions of women have been given more control over their own lives. And millions of brains have been put to more productive use. Societies that try to resist this trend — most notably the Arab countries, but also Japan and some southern European countries — will pay a heavy price in the form of wasted talent and frustrated citizens.
While we brag, however, we shouldn't forget how much work still remains to be done. Women continue to be locked out at the top ranks of most organizations, and continue to earn less than men for the same work. Women also carry the burden of child-rearing in our society, where the price that is paid for maternity leave is less earnings and career mobility.

Both of these challenges will need addressing, especially as women's role in the workforce will become a necessity in the coming decades. Women will be in demand as "an aging workforce and a more skill-dependent economy means that countries will have to make better use of their female populations." Wages will need come on par with those for men to compete for talent — and expect companies to start giving flexibility to women who wish to juggle careers and family.

The child-rearing issue is a societal issue as well, and here public policy will need to step in. Ensuring the next generation is given a fair chance at success starts at investing early in childcare and development — areas where no country does well — and all could use a dose of long term thinking.

Read more: Womenomics; Female power.
in reference to: Women and work: We did it! | The Economist (view on Google Sidewiki)


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