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Leader's Dilemma: The Slipper Of Unempathetic Nation
Leader’s Dilemma: The Slipper Of Unempathetic Nation

Leader’s Dilemma: Women’s Attitudes To Careers Are Changing

Women's Attitudes To Careers Are Changing

Let’s start with the fact that attitudes to successful careers are changing around the world. A successful career is no longer just a high position and a high salary. A successful career is an opportunity to make choices. Some want to be needed in the labor market right up to the deep old age. In this case, the main issues are:

  • how to remain competitive in the labor market?
  • what professions are mature ages suitable for?
  • what competencies will be needed in 20-30 years?
  • what kind of professional activity will I want to pursue when I am 60 and over?

For the next part of people, their dream careers – accumulated financial capital or passive income that allow them to stop working – leave the labor market early, described by the term FIRE (Financial Inference Retire Early).

Even five to 10 years ago, the main reasons why women’s careers did not progress as successfully as men’s were:

  • less faith in my capabilities (the belief that I can build my own business, become a manager);
  • maternity leave, which leads to a loss of positions in the labor market (no salary rises, skills shortages during leave, while active labor market players move forward);
  • menopause, where women do not want to compete actively due to physical and psychological well-being;
  • the desire to be a mother, wife, and family manager at home.

Mothers have a significant role to play, and women should not be pressured by society to make a career if they do not want to. Conversely, they are pressured to give birth and raise if they choose to do a professional career.

What has changed in recent years? Women are more confident, consciously plan their careers themselves, strive to be financially independent, not lose careers in races. Working in some organizations is still a race, and the pressure from the public to be successful is high. At least a slightly more ambitious person feels this pressure.

Both women’s and employers’ attitudes towards maternity/paternity leave have changed. In particular, organizations understand that they need to make it more flexible to reconcile parenthood and work, with some pledging to raise wages proportionally for mothers and fathers on leave. 42% of women fear that motherhood will negatively affect their careers, while 48% of women have indicated that this has happened (PWC study, 2018). Women understand that maternity “leave” can also be an opportunity – to study and start their own business, so they deliberately plan for this period. The question is how much this action is dictated by the desire to grow and how much fear of falling out of the labor market.

The gender pay gap in the EU stood at 14.1% (Eurostat) in 2019. In Lithuania – 14.0%. This is partly since women are heavily dominated in low-paid jobs: nursing, cleaning services, cashiers, customer service, preschool education.

High-paid managerial positions mean stronger competencies that – we are sure – can be held by both men and women in the same way and physical endurance and greater responsibility and risk. Not necessarily everyone wants to take this risk: evening work, missions – this price is paid not only by the manager himself but also by family members, especially children.

A successful career is a satisfaction arising from working life. For some people, it is important to feel the direct meaning of work, to help others. Such satisfaction can be obtained by working as a teacher, social worker, nursing job, which is, as we know, lower-paid. This work will not even bring an average income in the coming years, if not for a long time. Is it still stereotyped that women tend to make more sacrifices?

The most important issue is that workers earn the same amount for the same job, the same position, regardless of race, gender, political, religious, or other orientation, and everyone has the opportunity to make the career decisions they want.

Dr. Alisa Miniotaitė is a management and leadership expert, founder of UAB ALISA MANAGEMENT LABORATORY, Leadership Program Manager at ISM University of Management and Economics, certified ICC coach for the Baltic countries. 

Commentary is published in the news radio show “Leader’s Dilemma” and news page

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