A personal bucket list item for me: my advice in the Wall St Journal. Humbling and crazy, but maybe not such bad advice. Happy Mother’s Day!
When I say “working mother,” what image pops into your head? It’s probably not a joyful one. It’s probably a stressed out, barely holding it together mom on the run. Close your eyes and you can see her, sprinting and muttering to herself. It’s a cultural image that runs deep.
But when you are a leader you must set the tone for your work. You are the model. This perception cascades down to your team, your clients, your partner and your children.
I’ve had an amazing time working with AARP and getting to know the incredible women who are reshaping the blogosphere. In a recent piece for the Harvard Business Review I explore the word beyond mommybloggers:
“We buy stuff too.” That’s the rallying cry I’ve heard from widely read female bloggers over age 49, who are frustrated that a well-established cadre of younger women with young children — known as “mommybloggers” — garner extensive promotional contracts with major brand advertisers, while Boomer-aged women online are often ignored.
What marketers seem to be missing is that Boomer women are actually outspending younger generations online — and not on the products that might come to mind when you picture the 50+ set. Boomers averaged $650 spent online vs. Gen X at $581 and Gen Y at $429, according to Forrester Research. They are buying beauty products, electronics, experiences, vacations, and health products.
To make sense of the confluence of disposable income and increasing online time among this generation and what it means for marketers, I’ve drawn on my own experience and the rise of the mommyblogger.
Here’s an interesting statistic in the context of all the discussion of whether women should or should not be “leaning in” to their careers: by a substantial majority, women prefer a better work-life balance to a bigger paycheck.
As the working mother of two small children this is not a surprise to me. But my burden pales next to that faced by the 42 million Americans who care for an elderly or very ill family member or friend. Fifty-sixpercent of these caregivers are women. In al the talk about women and leadership, we need to take a moment to remember that because women are the majority of caregivers for babies and for the elderly and sick, women will not achieve full equality until the burden of caregiving stops having such a high financial cost.
A huge cause of income-related losses (wages, etc.) for women is caring for elderly relatives and friends. A woman who contributes a significant amount of unpaid care loses on average $324,000 in wages over her lifetime. In comparison, researchers estimate that the average high-skilled woman worker loses $230,000 in wages over her lifetime due to childcare. Informal, unpaid caregivers (think, bringing mom to her doctor appointment or making dinner for your great aunt) contributed $450 billion in help to older adults — and two out of three say caregiving has impacted their work. The amount of caregiving America’s workers (particularly our working women) have taken on is impacting not only their ability to increase their salaries, it’s impacted their ability to lead at work and to be present and productive on the job- unless our system changes.
This framework is interesting for me as an advocate for working parents because in my experience, taking time away from work to care for young children is often seen as negotiable, and a choice. Is the same true for those of us who have to care for a relative with a terminal illness, or a parent with dementia? I’m honestly not sure, but it’s a conversation that needs to happen. Over the past year, as I have worked with AARP and other organizations on expanding the conversation around caregiving in this country, I’ve felt a kinship with the many working caregivers older than me who still have to fib to get out of work, or always feel as if they are headless chickens, too much to do and no time to do it.
Love this and love seeing my former advisor Hannah Riley Bowles rock it on the Katie Show!!
When your boss or a client gives your work a rave review, do you often find yourself shunning the accolades? Or giving all of the credit to your team or colleagues? Though we’re taught to be modest, such a level of humility isn’t always beneficial in the workplace — especially when our male colleagues are much more likely to fully accept praise.
Check out this clip from Katie Couric’s show on improving your negotiation skills as a woman (featuring Sheryl Sandberg, Linda Babcock, Hannah Riley Bowles!).
And Christine Koh:
And Liz Gumbinner, on the incredible scarves at FashionABLE:
Dig further and you learn that it’s a non-profit, meaning all the proceeds go towards helping the artisans, not only through wages but with medical care, medicine for TB or HIV, counseling, a housing stipend, educational tools and daycare for their children.
Two of the women from fashionABLE plainly described their lives to us before they connected with Women at Risk and FashionABLE. Saba is 23. She as educated and living well until she turned 11 and her father died. The money ran out, her mother could no longer care for her, and moved away to live with relatives who never accepted her as their own. She tried waiting tables but couldn’t make ends meet. That’s when a neighbor introduced her to the far more lucrative prospect of commercial sex work….
Buy these gorgeous scarves and you’re helping women have better lives.