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Anne Marie Slaughter says gender equality at work is key to America’s future … – Huffington Post

Anne Marie Slaughter’s article in yesterday’s New York Times lays bare how women caregivers are shut out of careers because America’s workplaces have been built around an ideal worker norm that assumed that any deviance from complete availability signaled lack of commitment to company.

“But many women who started out with all the ambition in the world find themselves in a place they never expected to be. They do not choose to leave their jobs; they are shut out by the refusal of their bosses to make it possible for them to fit their family life and their work life together. In her book “Opting Out? Why Women Really Quit Careers and Head Home,” the sociologist Pamela Stone calls this a “forced choice.” “Denial of requests to work part time, layoffs or relocations,” she writes, will push even the most ambitious woman out of the work force.”

She concludes yesterday’s New York Times article with a rallying cry:

“We can, all of us, stand up for care. Until we do, men and women will never be equal; not while both are responsible for providing cash but only women are responsible for providing care. And though individual Americans might win out in our current system, America as a whole will never be as competitive as it ought to be. If we do not act, over time our families and communities, the foundation of our flourishing, will wither.”

Well said Anne Marie Slaughter!

Let’s get to work on bringing back all of that talent! Here’s what we need to do now…

Step 1: Recognize that women pushed out of the full time workforce because of caregiving hold value for employers. Yes they have some rusty skills (that are relatively easy to re-polish) BUT they have continued to build skills that are relevant to the work place through their caregiving and unpaid (volunteer) work. To mention a few: time management, conflict resolution, budgeting, patience (lots of it), a proven ability to work under stress and with difficult people…

Step 2: Count it! Fund academic research on the economics – positive externalities/public value they have created. Join forces with PTAs across America to accredit their volunteer work so that time away from the workplace can take pride of place on their resume and not be a black hole.

Step 3: Uncover and dismantle the unconscious societal and professional biases that make it OK to denigrate the women who didn’t (or couldn’t) Lean In.

Step 4: Create and promote flexible, equitable and meaningful work and modular career paths that do away with the outdated notion that commitment to career is correlated with 24/7 availability. Flexing work around caregiving is a potent recipe for company loyalty – which has a very tangible value to employers.

Step 5: Create a GI Bill for Moms that thanks a mom for her service by giving her credits for retraining to provide better pathways to reconnect with her professional future and increase her lifelong earning potential (and lessen the need for future public assistance)!

Let’s get caregiving moms back on track and make America as competitive as it ought to be.

Anne Marie Slaughter says gender equality at work is key to America’s future … – Huffington Post

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