26% of U.S. women still choose not to work… and maybe we should be okay with that

I came across an article titled” Why 26% of U.S. women still choose not to work”this morning while I was doing my morning rounds of the news. Here is the link to the full article, but here are the highlights:

  • Sixty years ago, American women began heading off to the workplace in droves. But in the last couple of decades, that trend has completely stalled out
  • In 1950, only 37% of women ages 25-54 participated in the labor force — meaning they had a job or were looking for one. The number rose rapidly, climbing to 74% by 1990
  • Today, still only 74% of women are active in the U.S. workforce, little changed in the last 25 years, and trailing far behind many other developed countries.
  • As of last year, America ranked 27th out of 37 developed countries for women’s labor force participation, according to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development.
  • The United States remains the only major industrialized country in the world that doesn’t mandate some sort of paid parental leave
  • Since the economic downturn in 2007, births have declined 8%.
  • Between 1985 and 2011, average child care costs rose 70% for working moms, after adjusting for inflation, according to the U.S. Census. Meanwhile, wages have barely budged.
  • women in the United States who do work are more likely to make it into professional and managerial roles. They’re also more likely to work full-time, and as a result, earn more money over their lifetimes.

Okay — so after I read the article I’m still no sure that I know WHY US women still choose not to work. Other than, its just that — A CHOICE. First off, the geek in me LOVES the data, numbers, and facts. I think it helps to give some context — but it doesn’t tell you the whole story. I found myself asking more questions and wanting to know more about these women — their education background, do they have a support network to help with childcare and if not, do they have access to top notch childcare, do they have a partner (is that by choice) — and as I started to think of my list of questions I stopped.

This headline grabbed my attention because something about it assumes that everyone WANTS to work and have kids. I’m not even sure that we can assume that everyone wants to work. 🙂 What if that IS an option for you and that is what you choose to do. It won’t be an option or desire for everyone.

I am not saying that there are not opportunities for new benefits, but let’s give businesses the leeway to offer some choices –and women the option to choose where they want to work — and IF they want to work. After all — it IS a choice.. What is right for you? What do YOU need to find balance?

Has anyone considered that “having it all” doesn’t mean that you have to have it all right now? There are different stages in life – what is right for you NOW?  Figure it out and own it — don’t let the government, your business, or society tell you what is right for you.

… but then again, what do I know? ..childless tree-hugging hippie here 🙂  — for now

Kids, benefits, childcare, work life balance — all on the minds of your employees — what’s your take and what’s your play?

PS — why is this all just a “woman’s problem” — men don’t have the same issues? — perhaps another post for another day – 🙂

Making the HR connection, yours

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