By Ila Ananya
Previously, we’ve wondered if companies really want to hire women after a career gap. Today, we came across this piece on part-time jobs by Laura Vanderkam, author of several time-management and productivity books. Vanderkam asks if going part-time is really the “key to achieving work/life bliss?”
Various studies by the Pew Research Centre have shown that going part-time remains a popular option in the US, because it’s usually mothers who say they’d like to work this way. But since working part-time also usually means a pay cut, and can affect careers in the long run if women ever want to work full-time again, (a study by the University of Texas shows that companies aren’t too keen on hiring part-time employees), is it really the better solution?
Vanderkam goes on to lay down other possibilities — would it be possible to achieve the same outcome by working more flexibly? She reminds us of a 2015 study by Erin Reid, a professor at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business, who looked at an elite consulting firm and found that the employees, particularly men, actually faked their 80-90 hour workweeks.
Reid found people who fell into three categories:
1. Those who are top performers because they put in the long work hours required of them.
2. Those who openly push against these work hours (and were hence punished in their performance reviews).
3. Those who got the benefits of a lighter work schedule without asking for it.
31 percent of the men whose records Reid went through fell into this third category. Additionally, the study also found that women who had young children were more likely to formally ask for greater flexibility — and suffered in their performance reviews for this.
We haven’t found any studies in India to prove this happens here too (Let us know if you know of any at fingerzine AT gmail dot com.) The discussions in India have revolved around companies claiming that there’s a shortage of women who can be on boards of companies, or that they require training. Most companies have a skewed gender ratio, and others often put women from their family on boards to meet the requirements. Neha Bagaria, the founder of JobsForHer, told The Ladies Finger that she’s met a lot of working women who are worried that taking a step back from their careers for their families will mean they’ll find it really difficult to re-join work.
Considering that these studies seem to prove that taking part-time jobs makes it tougher for women to get their careers back on track, it perhaps won’t be surprising to find similar stories in India too.