How are you feeling today? Specifically, how are you feeling about your career? And, even going deeper than that — how are you feeling about your power in the workplace? The truth is, not enough women have it.
And we have less of it today than we did just a few years ago. Women lost 30 years of progress during the pandemic in terms of the labor force participation rate. 1.5 million women who left their jobs during the pandemic — most of whom cited childcare or family care responsibilities — have not returned.
So, this week we’re getting real about the fact that our progress has stalled. And things have gotten harder for many women. Which is why we need a plan. Simply “leaning in” or “working harder” is just not going to work anymore. We need concrete action steps to follow, whether we’re in the workforce and looking to climb the ladder, or we’ve been out of the workforce a while and we’re hoping to get back in.
We knew just who to call to get an action plan for us — Stacey Vanek Smith is the author of “Machiavelli for Women: Defend Your Worth, Grow Your Ambition, and Win the Workplace.” Her book has been heralded as THE handbook for any woman who is ready to learn how to wield her power unapologetically, and finally break that glass ceiling for good.
Listen in as Stacey breaks down the main challenges facing women now, and shares her thoughts on the gender pay gap. (HINT: It’s “stuck.” It’s not improving, and it hasn’t budged in a while.) We break down how we can get it moving, and how this is a moment of opportunity with employers becoming far more flexible with work situations and locations.
“I think a lot of women were working almost past capacity, and I think the pandemic just sort of forced a crisis and a lot of people said ‘Wow, I can’t do this anymore,’ Stacey says. “But I think it exposed something that had been happening in our economy for a long time, which is women trying to ‘Yes, and?’ Like, do everything. Work full time, manage their careers, deal with discrimination, run their households, do the bulk of the childcare, and I think the pandemic made it so much worse. Thirty years of progress was lost as far as the share of women in the workforce and more than a million and a half women left and haven’t come back.”
In her book, Stacey says that “women are punished when they ask for more.” She dives into the data behind that, and offers suggestions for breaking that cycle and moving forward. Also, In far too many workplaces, women get interrupted, talked over, and have their ideas stolen.
“Now is a really opportune moment,” Stacey says. “I’ve never seen, in my whole career, workers have as much power as they do right now. Employers are really desperate to keep people. There’s so many people jumping jobs, record numbers of people quitting, that gives you a lot of leverage right now. So this is a moment when you can really succeed if you ask for more.”
You’ll also want to listen closely to what she says about women having kids during their peak earning years, and how we can lessen the impact that time out of the workforce can cause. Stacey walks us through her best guidance for women who were forced out of the workforce during COVID, but who may be looking to get back in, gives counsel to women who are looking to change jobs, and to those who are still in a job they love, but who are looking to climb the ladder.
In her book, Stacey poses the question “Where Are the Female CEOs?” The U.S. has a gender and race problem in its executive offices. More than 80% of CEOs and corporate board members are male, along with 75% of judges and elected officials. Stacey tells us more about where we stand, and where we’re headed in 2022 and beyond. On that note, we also talk about the “Motherhood Penalty,” wherein once a woman has children, her earning potential plummets. Discrimination against mothers is one of the main things holding many women back at work. We talk about how to drive change.
In Mailbag, we hear from a listener who just increased her earning power, and we take a question from a listener who is maxing out her 401(k) but is still unsure if she’ll have enough money to retire. And in Thrive, how to make fast (and cheap!) furniture purchases, even with supply chain problems.
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