But, in 2015, even after the passage of various acts, laws and amendments – and with the institutionalization of multiple corporate policies and procedures – women’s progress and equity in the U.S. remains imbalanced.
Take the following statistics into account:
In 2010, women eclipsed men in the workplace, yet the percentage of managers who are women has risen by only three percent in the past two decades.
Women face a pay gap in nearly every industry or occupation. As the American Association of University Women (AAUW) reports, “From elementary and middle school teachers to computer programmers, women are paid less than men in female-dominated, gender-balanced and male-dominated occupations.” .
As if that weren’t bad enough, according to the AAUW, the gender pay gap is even worse for 1) women of color, 2) older women (in this instance, considered as past the age of 35), 3) women with children. Gosh, imagine the triple whammy of being an African-American mother who’s 40 years old in the workplace!?
Plus, women with traditional full-time jobs still do most of the housework. After logging a full day of work, almost half of all women still come home to put in some more hours, while only 20 percent of men do. Over the course of a year, mothers with full-time jobs put in the equivalent of a week and a half more time on household tasks than do their husbands.
For all these reasons and more, the post “Can a Housewife Be a Feminist?” caught my attention. In it, the writer (Samantha), writes: “Running a household is a lot of work. Most of the time, the woman does the bulk of it anyway, even if she works outside the home as well. I’m not surprised so many of them have decided ‘fuck the job; this is full-time work itself.’”
Back when I worked a demanding corporate job, I knew I was burning the candle at both ends, but I also discounted and diminished what housewives and stay-at-home mothers were doing with their time. If a male colleague brought in fresh-baked cookies, courtesy of his non-employed wife, I would think, “Of course, she has time to do that.” If I ventured to the home of a family or couple with a housewife or at-home mom and it was pristine, I’d say to myself, “Why of course! This house should be immaculate. She is here all day.”
Today I cannot tell you why I couldn’t connect the dots between the many hours I spent cleaning, folding, scrubbing, scraping, waxing, dusting, cooking and shopping for the household in my off-hours (as if there is such a thing!), while undermining their value as I worked a full-time job outside the home. I consider it a case of situational myopia – I was too close and connected to the corporate mindset and way of life to see outside of that bubble at the time. I wasn’t in the mode of thinking that such domestic duties were invaluable because they were, in fact, not optional, but instead required for the health, sustenance and continuance of my family. Indeed, that alone made these unpaid tasks and uncompensated toil all the more priceless, as I was engaged in a long continuous stream of labor on which human survival has depended!
Currently, though I do not work 60+ hours a week for a major behemoth anymore, I do average 20-30 hours of paid work per week between my various consulting, freelance and part-time gigs. I work from home and am blessed to, for the most part, decide when and how much I work at any given time (deadlines notwithstanding). Still, the freedom to do laundry, mop a floor, clean a bathroom, shuttle kids to activities, do some dishes or get started on dinner or even read or take a bath (!) amid the madness and marvel of life as a project-based contributor is amazing.
I do a lot now, though some may surmise that I am lazing my days away as a 21st century Stepford wife in yoga pants and tank tops.
I'd even say I probably do more, though perhaps better with greater competence, than in my past corporate life.
I am no less a champion of women’s equality or our rights just because I slip on flip flops rather than don heels, as I walk down the hall rather than commute in a car, to begin a day’s work that still involves much more than working just for monetary pay.