We talked about women in the workplace in my Organizational Behavior class today. Sometimes I get frustrated with discussions like this, mostly because I really believe it's OKAY for a woman to let her man wear the pants in the family. If a woman wants to be the breadwinner in the family, and if that's the life her and her husband chose to have, I have no opposition to that and think that can be a great thing. But I get annoyed when people talk like that's the only way for a woman to be successful, or think that a woman should split herself between being a mother and being a CEO of a company.

My professor is married to a woman with a doctorate, and they have no children. Right now, she's clearly a woman who's goals have been in the workplace and not as much at home. She's also a professor and wonderful at her job. She just earned her doctorate last year, so maybe now they'll start thinking more about kids, and maybe in five years she'll want to be a stay at home mom. Or maybe they'll never have kids, and both teach, or have kids and still work. I find each one of those choices to be honorable.

Our professor put a slide up with this information on it, and said if he was a woman he'd be frustrated with it's contents.

In the United States, women hold:
  • 50% of all undergraduate degrees
  • 52% of all master's degrees
  • and 32% of all doctorates


  • they hold less than 15.7% of Fortune 500's corporate officer positions
  • earn 78% of what male counterparts do
  • and encounter a glass ceiling in the workplace

The first half doesn't frustrate me at all. We talked about why most doctorates are earned by men, and said it's largely because that's the age where a lot of women want to get married and start a family, and don't want to be in school any more. As I've made pretty clear, I think that's great.

The second half is a little frustrating. Not the first line about women not holding at many officer positions, that's probably also due to families, but with what they earn and the glass ceiling they encounter. That's not right, and I hope those two statistics change.

However, when my professor opened the topic up for discussion I mentioned that I don't think the percentage of women earning doctorates and holding high positions will ever be equal to the percentage of men. I feel that if you polled a sample of men and women, from age 6 to 60, more women are going to say their goals for their life involve getting married and having a family than men are. Point blank. A classmate brought up the rising of stay-at-home dads, and I know that's true. I don't think they will ever outnumber the amount of women who want to stay home though.

When I mentioned that it's exceptionally difficult to be a parent and a CEO in a company because both demand so much time, my professor said that when he lived in NYC he knew many women who would have laughed at me, and told me that they could have both, and that's what a nanny was for.

My automatic response was to ask him if those nannies were men or women. He smirked and said women.

Something I didn't mention in class but will mention here is that men are designed to provide, and women are designed to nurture. I didn't mention it in class because in some ways it's Biblical, but it's also obvious in observing humans and in science. My professor said that women have a thicker corpus callosum, the part of your brain that connects the left side and the right side. This makes them better with communication and connecting emotions to facts, which can make them better leaders in the workplace. That's true, but it's also what makes them great caretakers.

Another thought I'd had was that globally, the United States does pretty good as far as men and women being equal in the workforce. Sweden's definitely better than us, but compared to China or Japan, we're doing great. So think about globalization. Businesses in the United States want to work together with businesses in China and Japan. What representatives are they going to send to those companies to impress them and get them to join forces? Certainly not the women that aren't respected there. What about after they've joined forces, are they ever going to have a woman be the front runner of a project? I don't think so. Before the United States can truly be 50/50 with men and women in leading positions, there's a lot of other places in the world that are going to have to accept it as well.


  1. As a mother of three under the age of 5 and as a full-time lawyer, I agree with your comments about the workforce, women's roles in the workforce, and the exit of women from the workforce to have children. I also think your professor's retort about having a nanny is completely off base. I have an au pair (=a foreign nanny). I cherish having a career and a family, but I also recognize that I can't give 100% to both. Having a nanny doesn't allow you to do both; it allows you to do your career better.

    Good luck with your endeavors. You're obviously already very insightful and I bet you will be very successful.