What women want – why I first liked, and then disliked this article

I saw this article in one of many LinkedIn emails I am receiving weekly, so most likely at least a half of my readers already saw it last week. There are no groundbreaking news in the article; I guess it caught my attention exactly because it repeats all these things we hear about so often…

The name of the article is “6 things women want at work”, and it starts for the statement with which I agree whole-heartedly:

What do women want at work? The same things every worker wants: fair pay and the ability to work on projects and solutions that fuel their passion and allow them to make a difference — not just in the workplace, but in the world at large.

If you ask me, I’d say – that’s it. Women are people. They want, what everybody else want. But the article goes on over the same familiar list:

  • equal pay
  • flexibility and paid leave
  • role models and mentors
  • recognition and representation
  • opportunities for advancement
  • meaningful work

Out of this list probably only the first item is “gender-specific” – the payment gap is not even close be being gone. But let’s look at the other “5 things”.

Flexibility – why only women would want flexible hours? I think it’s just plain wrong. Flexible hours benefit both men and women, and in my company I can see, that when men have this flexibility, they tend to be more involved in the lives of their children. And it’s not only about having a “work from home” policy on place, but also having this culture – that it’s not something extraordinary, that the fathers stay at home with sick children, or come to work later to attend events at kids schools. I can’t remember how many times I’ve heard something like – I am going to work from home tomorrow: my daughter is sick, and my wife has an important meeting.

Role models and mentors – again, why this should be gender-specific? I mean, I get it, women need to have role models specifically because too many people are ready to explain that “you can’t have it all”. But at the same time I feel that an example presented in the article – having the company website which features people of different race, gender and ethnicity should be (and is) appealing to male and female alike. As I’ve being repeatedly saying, I believe it’s very important to foster a gender-blind environment – for everybody.

The next two things: recognition and opportunities for advancement aren’t gender-specific either. As much as women often get overlooked in recognition (due to the gender bias), the real problem is, that people are often not recognized enough in general. And I hear more often from male that from female, that they do not understand what is their career path…

As for the last item in this list – meaningful work, I have some comments regardless of gender. Here is a quote:

One of our partner companies did a test recently where they let internal employees ‘freelance’ within the company; to choose which projects they wanted to work on. They were skeptical at first,” Ames says, thinking surely the employees would work fewer hours and be less productive when given more freedom. Instead, she says, the results were just the opposite.

“The employees worked longer hours and were much more engaged and passionate about their work, and the work was done quickly and with an efficient use of resources,” says Ames. That approach can maximize all your available talent, not just women.

Here I have a problem with associating “productive” with “long hours”, because I do not think this is correlated, and I do not like when people judge somebody’s productivity by the number of hours they spend on the project. But besides this, the final word – not just women – says it’s all.

… Isn’t it like I am trying to say that “women are people”?!

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