The first time I used a laundry machine in the US, I was unaware of the concept of sorting. So of course that virgin load emerged a bright Barbie pink hue! Horrified, I put the clothes back for a wash with strong bleach, but inevitably it just turned a sickly pepto bismol color. Unfortunately, in a fit of acute guilt for not “earning” money during that first year, I had grabbed my husband’s clothes as well.
In my prior experience in India, dirty clothes disappeared from the hamper, to be replaced next day with a crisp pile of ironed & folded clothes on the bed. I was brought up to think of housework as a consequence of poor academic results, the threat was that if I didn’t get into a good college & get a suitable job, I would have to become a housewife with no power to make decisions. As a result, I’ve always been sensitive to the repetitive, unrecognized tasks which are usually considered the domain of women. Particularly since I am spectacularly bad at most of them. So I studied a lot!
A question for managers, who in your team is the best at organizing events, summarizing meeting takeaways and organizing team recognition awards?
According to research from Vesterlund and her colleagues, women volunteer for office “housekeeping” assignments about 50% more than their male colleagues. Managers ask women to take on such work 44% more than they ask men because women are 50% more likely to say yes. According toMcKinsey & Company and Lean In, women leaders are twice as likely as men to spend time on DEI work. When looking at women of color specifically, one survey found that women of color were 39% more likely than white women to report doing more diversity work than their colleagues.
According to a McKinsey study, 10.5% of women in or above senior leadership positions resigned in 2021. For every female person who got promoted at a directorial level in 2021, two women directors quit.
The problem is not just that the expectation that women would be better at such initiatives, it is also that while these activities are essential parts of running the organization, they are not recognized at performance review time. So they end up as significant time & energy drains reducing the resources available for women to work on promotable tasks.
I also think this contributes to the lack of genuine effort that senior male managers put in to engage in DEI work. If they have never had to contribute to such work, they won’t develop an appreciation for it.
I propose a formal DEI initiative that an equitable distribution of non-promotable work should be one of the performance goals for managers. This will bring the existing inequalities to light, and foster such skills in male employees.
My husband never allowed me to touch his laundry ever again. 🤓
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