with Amy Urquhart
I’m Amy and I’ve spent the last three years trying to strike that perfect balance between being a wife, mom and professional career woman. I’ve decided that I’ll never perfect the art of “having it all”, but this blog is a chronicle of my attempts to continue to do so. I’m a blogger (my personal blog about Canadian home life is Hearts into Home), gardener, college instructor, wife to Graham and mom to Nate. If you’re also a working mom who finds there just aren’t enough hours in the day, I hope you’ll enjoy this column!
Read her blog at Hearts into Home.
This week, I had the opportunity to talk to some amazing women about the White House’s recent report, “Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being.”
It’s the first comprehensive federal report since 1963, when President Kennedy’s Commission on the Status of Women, chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt, was released, and pulls together data from a variety of sources and studies, offering a big-picture view of the issues women face today, and how women’s lives in the United States has changed over time.
One of the things that hasn’t changed much is that, in spite of all of our gains in education and in the workforce, women on average still earn less than men for doing comparable work. I asked White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, the chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, and Preeta Bansal, General Counsel and Senior Policy Adviser at the Office of Management and Budget in the Executive Office of the President, why they think that’s still the case. (You can see the whole interview here.)
Here’s what they had to say:
“Well, there are a variety of reasons, a variety of different factors,” Jarrett told me. “We have to encourage our young girls to go into fields that lead to profitable careers.”
Women who work outside the home tend to spend more of their “free” time on family and volunteer work, while men tend to spend theirs on sports and leisure activities, the report found. “Women are still carrying the burden of family,” Jarret pointed out. “Women aren’t able to spend as much time as work [as men] because they have all these other commitments and responsibilities. And then another factor is that we still have discrimination in the workplace.” The discrimination isn’t as simple as men vs. women or black vs. white; thanks to what researchers call <a href=”http://workitmom.com/bloggers/36hourday/2009/06/22/the-motherhood-penalty-its-not-just-about-pay/”>”The Motherhood Penalty,”</a> women with children earn an average of $11,000 less in starting salary than women without kids.
To encourage change, “part of what we’ve been doing here at the White House, as part of the Council of Women and Girls, is to highlight best practices.” Jarrett said. “Employers who have flexibility in the workplace are more productive.”
It’s no surprise to many of us that, in this day and age, a flexible workplace is a family-friendly workplace. With more and more fathers focused on achieving work-life balance, maybe there’s a chance that flexibility could become the norm, rather than just a perk? “Flex work schedules aren’t only about women, it’s about families and the choices they’re making,” said Bansal. “There’s a role both for government and laws, and there’s a role for the private sector… the private sector is recognizing more and more that retaining women is about competitiveness.”
Readers, why do you think the wage gap still exists? Is it something that needs legislation to fix, is it a work place issue, or is it simply a societal thing?
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