There’s been a lot of talk about women increasingly “opting out” of work to take care of their families (a.k.a. off-ramping or taking the “mommy track”). But according to a new study, many of us are flexing our arrangements at work to continue kicking ass and taking names (oh, and earning bucks) as we manage life on the home front.
The Simmons School of Management in Boston partnered with HP to ask 400 professional women at the SOM Leadership Conference about their career/life paths. Granted, most of the women surveyed were likely highly educated, high-income managerial types, so the results had to be skewed.
But I found it interesting that those “who used flexible work arrangements did not sacrifice financial success, when compared to those who did not use them.” Can this be right? I think it’s a common belief among working women and men that flexible work arrangement = lower pay and less career advancement. But I’d love to be proven wrong on that one.
Further, the study’s authors theorize that most women are not opting out, but rather are “managing their careers differently.”
By doing so, women are rejecting an outdated career model that was created for and by the white male managers who were building corporations after World War II. That historical career model, demanding that work be primary in an individual’s life, was founded on the stay-at-home mother and stable organizations and markets. As that foundation has eroded, a new model has emerged where individuals act as “career self-agents,” and negotiate their own terms of employment. Women, as they negotiate FWAs (to essentially determine when, where and how much they will work), are leading that shift in the career paradigm.
This kind of takes me back to undergrad women’s studies classes (ahh, good times…) But it does make sense, if you think about it. Our economy changed dramatically over the last few decades, and women (as well as quite a few men) flexed right along with it.
If this survey really interests you (or you’re pursuing your own FWA), download this PDF to dig into the details. Good stuff!