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It's 2021 and women STILL must overcome this

Have you ever stopped to consider why the jobs that are typically occupied by women--jobs like taking care of children, taking care of sick people, taking care of old people, and cooking for & cleaning up after all of us--are among the lowest paid? Do you find it curious that these are also the everyday activities that women typically (and happily!) do for free for their loved ones?

I do. I think about it often. It's something that sticks in my craw. What is it about the jobs women do that is undervalued? Is it that the work itself is not valued or is it because it's done by women that makes it unworthy? OK, maybe I'm being dramatic in my opining. But more than a few articles have come across my desk recently revealing the persistent disparities between how men experience work and how women experience work. To wit, Gender isn't the problem during salary negotiation, researchers say. To explain the gender pay gap, the conventional wisdom goes like this: it exists because women are no good at negotiating. If only women were better negotiators, they'd earn what men do. Problem solved. What does the research say? "If women appear worse in real-world scenarios, it can be chalked up to recruiters’ implicit biases." According to studies, "the problem is with the men that are interviewing the women, not the women themselves." (Oh, and women can be biased against women, too, as Kristen Pressner admits in a TedTalk.)

Let us quit blaming the people who suffer as a result of these enduring biases and stereotypes. Instead, let's overcome our enduring biases and stereotypes. Let's interrupt them. Let's put them away. For good. Likewise, in the article Stop Telling Women They Have Imposter Syndrome, the authors explain how doing so "puts the onus on women to deal with the effects" of longstanding systems that were not built to include or accommodate them. This is true for just about every marginalized community (which is what makes them marginalized). The onus is put on [fill in the blank demographic] to deal with the effects of whatever deep-rooted systems they come in contact with that were built without regard for their needs. Too often, it's the perennial system(s) that make it hard for people to succeed. Not something lacking in the people themselves. Instead of blaming those people over there, let's fix the system ... because it's the system that is broken not the people. And when all people are afforded the opportunity to succeed, that's when we all succeed.

The pandemic has been especially brutal for women. They suffered a disproportionate number of layoffs, took on more home responsibilities, and made more career sacrifices to manage the collapse of in-school learning and child-care arrangements. If women feel they need to exit the workforce because they've got too much to do or they can't do it all any longer, what are you going to do? No, really. What are you going to do??

Andrea J. Applegate is the founder and president of Applegate Talent Strategies, a boutique workforce & talent consulting practice dedicated to helping employers get the best from their employees while ensuring their people have the best experience at work.

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