Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Are More Career Women 'Opting Out'?

Are the business women of today more likely to leave the workforce in order to take on the jobs of house wives or mothers? From 2001 to 2005, there was a noticeable decline of women in the workforce. Back in 2003, New York Times Reporter Lisa Belkin wrote that this decline indicated that an "opt-out revolution" was taking place amongst women. In reality, women were not, and are not, "opting out" of their careers to tend to their families. Studies have found that the women of today, compared to the women in 1984, are less likely to leave their jobs for their loved ones. Actually, women are now more inclined to keep their careers because they must provide for their families needs. So, if women weren't opting out for family reasons, what explains the dwindling number of women in the workforce during 2001- 2005? During that time period, the labor market grew weak, causing women's labor rates, and even men's labor rates, to drop. Although the declining number of women in the workforce can be justified by the occurrence of a recession, I find it interesting that women were automatically viewed as "opting out". Like I mentioned above, men's labor rates also declined during that 4 year period yet nobody declared that an "opt-out revolution" was occurring amongst men. I believe that women are constantly perceived as being less committed to their careers, which is why society is so quick to assume women will drop everything for their families. Because women are believed to lack devotion, companies often times don't view them as valuable assets. One faculty member at a California University believes that "most mothers do not opt out . . . they are pushed out by workplace inflexibility, the lack of supports, and a workplace bias against mothers."

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