{Women in the Workplace}: Holding Back Before It’s Time to Hold Back

by Katelyn Block on January 25, 2013 · 15 comments

One issue I see time and time again with women and the workplace is that women make small, deliberate choices in their careers that ultimately hold them back. Whether it is because they think they’re not worth the opportunity, the pay raise, the C-level position, the relationship, or the success. Or because they’re “planning on having kids on day”. I’ve read about this in Knowing Your Value, in various articles and videos both online and offline, and hearing from women themselves.

It begins with a relationship, which might turn into an engagement, which might turn into a wedding, at which point you would have to plan that wedding, and then oh my goodness, we’re getting ready to think about having children. Women start to avoid greater responsibility when even an inkling of marriage, children, or family comes their way. Even if it’s five years off.

More and more companies are developing greater respect for women and mothers in the workplace. Not only are women incredible executives (time management and people management among our greatest strengths), but they are incredible mothers, knowing when to be harsh and when to be kind. Women that have children usually are just as good as, if not better, employees than their male counterparts who have children. They learn time management and the value of getting 5 days’ worth of work done in 3 days’ time.

Businesses are beginning to realize this value, and have taken measures similar to Google’s approach: Giving women 5 months paid maternity leave, distributed before and after birth as the mother sees fit. Worldwide workers get seven weeks. When the women do decide to go back to work, which most try to do as soon as they can, they are incredible time-managers, getting work done in record time and still seeing their kids to the bus, off the bus, and attending parent-teacher conferences.

More and more, the field is changing. The term integration is replacing work-life balance. They are not separate from one another. Increasingly, children are taken to work for part of the day, or taken on business trips. Mothers opt-out of meetings to see their kids play soccer. Why? Because integrating the two previously-separated lifestyles creates more productive people. Better companies. Happier employees.

When employees at all levels are given the ability to work from home a few times a week, leave work at 5:30 to get home for dinner, and take an hour break midday to see their friends and family for lunch, they are happier and appreciate their work environment even more.

So, think about that. What can you do to make your employees happier? Yourself a better worker? A better corporate culture? The small changes can change a lot in regards to productivity, and women will take that flexibility and go farther.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

NYC Fit GIrl January 25, 2013 at 8:24 AM

This is a great write up Katelyn and jsut what I needed to read because I am going in to see my boss today :-)

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Katelyn Block January 25, 2013 at 7:47 PM

I would love to hear how it went!!

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Katie @ Talk Less, Say More January 25, 2013 at 8:50 AM

Awesome post, Katelyn. Definitely gets you thinking and gets me excited to get back into my career!

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Katelyn Block January 25, 2013 at 7:48 PM

GOOD I am so glad!!

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xteenah January 25, 2013 at 9:56 AM

Hi Katelyn!

SOOO interested in the new direction of your blog! Just curious though – what are YOUR experiences as a woman in the corporate world? I would be so interested in hearing what your perspective is, and not just recycled thoughts from whatever book or article you just read.

Thanks!!!

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Katelyn Block January 25, 2013 at 10:18 AM

Great feedback! I’m certainly not in the mindset of children right now, but I will be sure to elaborate on my own experiences.

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Kcj January 25, 2013 at 11:38 AM

Katelyn, I’ve maybe commented on two blog posts in my life but feel compelled to give a foil to this perspective. I am not entirely sure who it is that believes women begin to take less responsibility in the workplace when they are in relationships and I’m sure you didn’t mean to imply all women but, thats the way it reads so I thought I’d add aome inaight from my experience. I have years of experience in several work environments and I have met incredible women, despite sexist cultures, who push through relationships, weddings and eat marriage years taking on more and more. I myself just took on a huge role change and switched jobs one month before my wedding. Knowing I want to have children in the next four years I don’t see how this will affect my attitude at work. However, when that day comes close I will be incrediy mindful of the situation I put my employers in because the last thing I’d want to do is accept a promotion and training to leave my employer two months later because I plan to stay home with my kids. As unfair as it may seem, if I do that I KNOW my employer will thi j twice before hiring or promoting a young woman again. It’s a double edges sword – being a woman in the workplace who fights for her rights but also is sensitive to the reality of the world in which we live. Before I had company work experience I had novel ideas about how I’d fight injustice…and the reality is very different from those dreams. It’s not all bad, but there’s plenty that’s out of our control. I’m looking forward to following the evolution of your ideas as you begin to enter the working world and gain first-hand experience.

Anywho, just thought I’d keep the conversation going. And I agree with the commenter above. I’d love to hear more from you…and careful with those generalizations. I only mention it because I love your spunk and want to see your new blog direction flourish.

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Katelyn Block January 25, 2013 at 8:12 PM

Hi Kcj! Thank you so much for your feedback! I so much loved reading your own thoughts on this topic. There are a lot of conflicting emotions going into this, I’m sure, and I know that as I go through life, I will find similar experiences to you and hopefully make the right decision when the time comes. I really loved reading your insight. I truly believe that the field is changing and that more and more women are able to achieve better through balancing life in a more harmonious way. The WORLD is changing. I can only hope that more and more households are 50/50 between spouses, and that parents can find happiness and success at work while finding the same at home. I am sorry for the generalizations, and perhaps think that I didn’t quite say things the way I thought I did. Women are CERTAINLY not all subject to a “rule”, but I really wanted to talk about a topic that I had been reading and listening about, which was that so many women tend to hold themselves back because of one thing or another, and it makes me incredibly happy to see this pattern turned around on its head. I’ll admit that I don’t have much (or any, actually) first-hand experience on the topic, but I really became interested by all of it and had a bit of a “brain barf”. I don’t claim to be any expert on the topic, but at the very least, I love starting conversations and learning more :) Thank you again, and I so very appreciate you coming by. I hope to hear more of your insight in the future!! (don’t EVER be afraid to comment! :))

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Mo January 27, 2013 at 7:05 PM

The opening sentence of this post says this is an issue you have witnessed time and time again. Here, you admit to not having any firsthand experience. Which is it? Can you provide some examples that you’ve witnessed?

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Katelyn Block January 27, 2013 at 7:07 PM

In articles and videos that I’ve seen. I love reading and talking about this. Turns out, it’s great to bring up topics like this because it starts such great discussion! :)

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Lindsay January 25, 2013 at 7:12 PM

If this is a subject you’re interested in exploring more, maybe you could try finding some working women to interview? I know that you said in your post that you’ve talked to working women, but being able to talk about someone’s firsthand experiences (even if they aren’t your own) may help readers relate better.

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Katelyn Block January 25, 2013 at 7:53 PM

That is a GREAT idea!! I certainly will. There are so many amazing women in Syracuse (and all around the country!) that would be great resources. Thank you for stopping by, and even more so, for your feedback!

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Fel January 25, 2013 at 8:13 PM

Small changes do make such a big difference. This topic is so interesting to talk about–I would totally love to read about women who are in this position and their experiences. Would be awesome to read! Just found you by the way, love! xx Fel

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Steve Borek January 29, 2013 at 12:56 PM

Hi Katelyn. I’m attending the bloggers meetup on Thursday so I’m perusing the various sites.

Insightful post.

My millennial client in Nashville is figuring out what she wants to look like in a year from now. The must have for her is flexibility. She has a little child and wants to ensure she has the right amount of white space in her calendar.

The best companies are catering to the needs and values of each person. In the end, these organizations outperform the competition.

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Carly @ Snack Therapy January 30, 2013 at 12:37 AM

My mom is probably my biggest career inspiration. She’s an incredibly respected career woman and the main bread winner in our family, but she still managed (and manages!) to spend time with me, my brother, and my dad every single day. Not to mention, she helps all of us stay on top of our responsibilities. And not once have I heard her complain about not having enough time to get something done. If it’s important, she finds the time, no questions asked.

I really believe that women have the incredible ability to find balance among family, career, friends, exercise, etc etc.

Thanks for this post! It’s incredibly empowering.

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