Still climbing after all these years

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A study done at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte  indicates the glass ceiling is alive and well.

The researchers looked at the 1% at the top of the income pyramid and found that women are still woefully behind men in earnings. The top 1% of American households rreceive nearly a quarter of all U.S. income. Women’s income alone accounts for 1% status in only 5 % of those households (i.e., .0005 of U.S. households). Women’s contribution is necessary to achieve the 1% status in household income in 15% of the elite families (.0015 of households). To qualify for top 1% household status, the authors of the study calculate that a household must bring in $845,000 in total income in 2016 dollars.

Beyond the cash itself, the scarcity of women at the top incomes means less political, economic, and social power and influence.

Importantly, the study also indicates that the gender gap in personally earning this level of income has not narrowed since the mid- to late-1990s. This means that women’s progress on this issue has stalled and women are no closer to earning elite-level income today than they were two decades ago.

Previous studies of the glass ceiling looked at women in terms or CEO or leadership positions. This study shows that the glass ceiling effect extends even to self-employment. Although women who are self-employed or highly educated are doing better, they are still lagging behind men in income. Most women who attain 1% status still do so via marriage.

Disheartening, isn’t it?

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Think twice before you take that job

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Here is another example to go in the “life isn’t fair” file. Swedish researchers found that women facing high demands in their jobs gained weight while men didn’t.

Scientists from the University of Gothenburg studied more than 3800 people. They assessed them three times over a twenty year period, either from age 30 to 50 or 40 to 60 using variables of how much control they had in their work situation and how demanding their job was.

The researchers defined amount of control as  how often they learned something new; whether the job called for imagination or advanced skills; and whether the respondent was personally able to choose what to do and how to do it.

To measure how demanding a job was, they asked questions about work pace, psychological pressures, whether there was enough time for their duties and how often the demands made were contradictory.

Both men and women were equally likely to gain wait when they had little control, a gain of about 10%. On the other hand, half the women who had demanding jobs gained 20%.

The researchers speculate that women in demanding jobs faced more demands at home than men did. Duh. This becomes a public health issue since weight gain is associated with heart disease and diabetes.

Ladies, if you have a high stress job, make an effort to exercise self-care.

Maybe it’s not who you know but how many

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A recent study about women in leadership positions caught my eye. According to researchers at Notre Dame and Northwestern, women who communicate regularly with a small circle of other women are two and a half times more likely to hold such position.

For men, the larger the social network, regardless of gender, the better the chances for a high ranking job. And women who have a network similar to this are likely to be in a lower level job.

Reading between the lines, this seems to imply that women who are introverted are more likely to be leaders. Conversely, men who are extroverted, those with lots of contacts, are the ones who rise to high levels.

As an introvert, I find this study encouraging. Where do you fall on the introvert/extrovert continuum? How do these results apply to you?

 

Are you an innie or an outie?

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Now that unemployment is so low, have you thought about looking for an encore career? Or maybe just a part time job or volunteer position?

As you explore your options, take into consideration whether you are an introvert or an extravert.

Do you think first before you jump into a situation? Have a very few, very good friends? Need to be alone to refocus after being in a crowd? These are strong indications you are an introvert.

You’ll be happier doing something that puts you in the back office. If you have a flair for numbers, for example, you’d probably enjoy keeping the books. If you are artistic or crafty, selling your wares on Etsy will probably work better for you than selling at face-to-face craft shows.

If you love parties and have a slew of acquaintances, you are likely an extravert. Crowds energize you.

You are probably a natural salesperson. If you’re a fashionista, a job in retail with an employee discount might be a dream come true. If you are athletic, maybe you can recruit people to form a pickleball league.

Have you found a second career? Does it draw on your innate qualities of introversion or extraversion?

 

Be you

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“Our work is the presentation of our capabilities.” ~Edward Gibbon

Are you in a job that allows you to use your capabilities?

I spent much of my adult life working in the insurance industry, a field that rarely gave me the opportunity to use my strengths. I had not chosen this career, merely stumbled into it. An insurance company offered me a job, and I took it. I tried and tried to make the proverbial silk purse of it and failed.

In my forties, I decided to go to graduate school to pursue something that might actually suit me. Although I loved my educational psychology classes and did extremely well, my problem wasn’t solved.

It took almost another twenty years of interim jobs until I finally found a position in my new field. Not surprisingly, it wasn’t all I had hoped for, but it was an environment in which I felt comfortable.

Now that I am officially retired, I have begun writing fiction, something that is a near-perfect match for my introverted personality and artistic interests.

If you are still in the workforce, are you using your capabilities? If you are retired, have you found a job or hobby that lets you be you?

 

The myth of upward mobility

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A new study by Michael Hout, a sociology professor at New York University, shows that the occupations of our parents affect our own social status more than we thought.

Hout looked at data from 1994 through 2016 that asked people what their parents did for a living. Their replies were coded to 539 occupational categories, following protocols established by the U.S. Census Bureau, and then given a socioeconomic score ranging from 9 (shoe shiner) to 53 (flight attendant) to 93 (surgeon).

Half the sons and daughters whose parents were in the top tier of occupations now work in occupations that score 76 or higher (on a 100-point scale) while half the sons and daughters of parents from the bottom tier now work in occupations that score 28 or less on that scale. Previous studies used averages instead of medians, so the results were underestimated.

In other words, our upward mobility in life is heavily influenced by our parents’ status. America is not yet the land of equal opportunity. We still have some work to do.

 

Kiss your way to success

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Have you ever had a coworker who spends a lot of the workday kissing up to the boss? I know I have. If you think this kind of behavior is an American phenomenon, you’re mistaken. It seems Chinese workers do it too.

Anthony Klotz and Lawrence Houston, III, professors of management in the College of Business at Oregon State University,  studied 75 professionals in China about engaging in two “impression management techniques,” ingratiation and self-promotion. They define Ingratiation as flattery, conforming with the supervisor’s opinion and doing favors. Self-promotion includes taking credit for success, boasting about performance and highlighting connections to other important people.

The participants kept diaries for two weeks and also took a test measuring their political skill, the social abilities that help them effectively understand others at work, influence others in ways that enhance their own objectives and navigate social situations with confidence.

The researchers found that while kissing up is effective in the long run, in the short term it depletes self-control. The depleted employees were  then more likely to engage in workplace deviance such as incivility to a co-worker, skipping a meeting or surfing the internet rather than working. My interpretation: people who brown nose are also likely to be rude and do less work.

There was no evidence of a similar link between self-promotion and depletion. My interpretation: bragging doesn’t require self-control. In fact, the opposite is probably true.

The researchers also found that ingratiation was less depleting for employees with high levels of political skill. Those people didn’t engage in as much of the deviant behavior as their peers with less political savvy. My interpretation: people with innate political skills not only ingratiated upwards. They also ingratiatied sideways with peers.

The professors, bless their hearts, suggest that depleted workers might want to take a walk or have a snack to refresh themsleves instead of being rude to coworkers. Personally, I think people busily kissing up to supervisors don’t much care how they behave toward colleagues.

The good professors also suggest that leaders who have been kissed up to be aware of how this depletes those doing the kissing and offer positive reinforcement to un-deplete them. Huh? Maybe I’m missing something here, but this tells me that they regard kissing up as good behavior that should be rewarded.

What do you think?

 

 

Which road to choose?

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I just finished this summary of research that made me very, very sad. Psychologist Tom Gilovich and former Cornell graduate student Shai Davidai published their conclusions “The Ideal Road Not Taken” in the journal Emotion. 

What they found is that people regret not living up to what they perceive as their ideal self far more than they regret not living up to obligations.

They base this on the idea of three components of a person’s sense of self: the actual, ideal and the ought selves. The actual self is who a person believes they are. The ideal self is who they would like to be. The ought self is who they feel they should be.

When the men asked hundreds of people in six surveys to list and categorize their regrets, they found people have an easier time defining what they ought to do than in what they would do to be their best self. People wait for inspiration that may never come or they worry about what others will think of them. The researchers conclude that Nike has been right. The best course of action is “Just do it.”

These ideas resonate with me. I’ve always been the conscientious one, the one who follows rules. I let fear of failure and of the unknown stop me from making job choices that may well have led to a happier life. The regrets are real.

As a result of the soul-searching I finally did, I wrote Career Finder Workbook for Teens in the hopes of helping young people make more intelligent decisions than I did. I wrote it for middle school age students, but if you are an adult who is wondering what to be when you grow up you might find it helpful.

 

Are your “shoulds” holding you back?

Economic realities and #MeToo

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Last night, Anderson Cooper did a segment on 60 Minutes about Mario Batali and several women who accused him and his restaurant partner and friend of sexual harassment and abuse. As I continue to think about it this morning, a number of points stand out.

First, the women continued to work at the restaurant. They needed jobs. Some complained at the time of the incidents. Others didn’t. But they stayed.

I don’t know that much about the restaurant business, but it seems to be a male-dominated field. (Of course, what field isn’t?) These women were afraid they couldn’t find another job, afraid they would be black-balled so they would never find another job, or afraid that any job they found would be more of the same culture. These are economic realities.

Women still hold few CEO spots in the Fortune 500. How did they do it? Apparently, differently from the way men do. CNN Money reported on a study done by Oxford University of 151 male and female CEOs. Men rely on neworking and mentors. With few women in the ranks above them, these avenues are not available to women.

Female CEOs said success came when they invested in their own career development. Researchers identified three “self themes” — self-acceptance, self-development and self-management — common to the female leaders.

Forgive me for patting myself on the back, but these are facets of emotional intelligence that I write about in my latest book How to Stop #MeToo from Happening to You.

For the female CEOs, self-acceptance came when they first realized they had leadership potential. Self-development meant asking for more responsibility. Self-management included determining a leadership style that blended assertiveness with nurturing qualities still expected by others.

Will conditions change if more women get into positions of power in businesses? I hope so. I’d love to hear your thoughts, readers.

Combatting #MeToo

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Just wanted to share that my book is now available on Kobo.com.

While many situations have unfortunately occurred which women couldn’t have avoided, I firmly believe that some personal responsibility is called for. In no way is this book intended to shame victims of crimes. But what about actions that fall short of criminal? We women can always choose how to behave, but it is also important to realize that certain choices may have unwelcome consequences.

Agree or disagree? Please comment.