It checks out: women are doing more at home, and getting less than what they deserve at work
Have you ever had a little creeping feeling that you were maybe not getting everything you deserve at work, and also that when you get home, you’re doing more than your fair share of labor? Well, it’s not just in your head. There’s a mountain of studies and information out there that confirms what so many working moms are feeling: you are exhausted, and it’s from trying to get what’s fair at work and then going home to face a landslide of responsibilities, tasks, and invisible labor.
Let’s start things off by looking at the 2018 McKinsey Report, which analyzes data from almost 300 workplaces and 13 million people. The news isn’t super great. Since the report began in 2014, virtually no progress has been made when it comes to women’s representation in the workplace – and women of color suffer the most when it comes to not only getting high-level jobs, but also when it comes to promotions. For every 100 men promoted to a manager position, only 79 women are. Not only that, but of the women who do land those jobs, two-thirds of them suffer sexism, discrimination, and microaggressions at work – issues that contribute to women leaving the workspace.
The report also found that 35 percent of women have been sexually harassed at work – a number that balloons to 55 percent for women in senior leadership positions. One in five women are “onlys,” who report that they are often the only women in their group, meeting, or room. These women face major challenges, including sexism, harassment, and unprofessional remarks. They’re also more likely to have their abilities doubted.
And the wage gap? Even though women are more educated than ever, and even though more of us work than ever, researchers don’t think we’ll be paid equally for, oh, about 202 years.
But things don’t improve at home, either.
Women are ten times more likely to have to miss work for taking care of a sick kid than men are – and 60 percent of the time, they lose money to do so (maybe this is part of the reason we can’t get ahead in the office?). We also log twice as many hours of childcare each week as fathers do – even if we’re working the same amount of time as our partners.
And the caring for everyone else doesn’t end there: women are also more likely to care for elderly parents and loved ones than men, doing everything from helping with errands, to checking in, to full-time personal care. They’re also significantly more likely to leave work to do so.
In fact, women are much more likely than men to leave their job, switch jobs, or cut their hours when they have a kid or a parent to take care of at home. Why? It’s a lot of factors, but a few big ones include the enormous cost of childcare, a lack of support for moms, crappy parental leave policies, and societal expectation. Not to mention that because of the gender wage gap, women make less than men and so they are often the more financially sensible choice when it comes to cutting down on work or staying home altogether.
While our male counterparts have been doing more, say, compared with their fathers, women are still doing the bulk of household chores and errands, and are far and away doing more emotional labor and mental load tasks – stuff like knowing what size shoe your kid wears, or how to find a babysitter, or when the car needs an oil change.
What needs to change? The McKinsey report focuses on awareness, especially when it comes to hiring and promotion practices at big companies. Others think that more transparency is needed at companies as far as what people earn, plus better policies in the workplace for moms. On the home front, women need more support from their partners, but they also need more from their jobs, their families, and their communities, too.
One thing’s for sure, though: we need to talk about it more, because we need equality before we completely exhaust ourselves.