Career & Workplace

Women, Workplaces and External Demands




Photo:

Javier Jaen

In response to “What #MeToo Has to Do With the Workplace Gender Gap” (Journal Report, Oct. 23): When men harass women, it’s about insecurity, and men should realize what they are revealing.

When I chose a career in heavy industrial construction, I had no idea I was headed for sex-equality heaven, but that’s apparently what it was. I worked with skilled, intelligent, self-confident, results-oriented superintendents, tradesmen and engineers. Success was a result of collaboration, not competition, and was easily measured. Either your equipment started up on time, ran well and met budget, or it didn’t. When co-workers determined that I was, like them, there to get the job done as efficiently as possible, they accepted me.

I think I was the first female engineer hired by my employer. When I retired, there were many, accepted in proportion to their abilities and work ethic.

Patrice Dick

Castle Rock, Wash.

Solving the workplace problems that have plagued women for decades isn’t just a matter of finding mentors, equalizing pay or making sure that women have as many opportunities as men. Real progress will be made when employers realize they need to talk about issues of “Women at Home” alongside issues of “Women in the Workplace.”

As a career coach, I’m privy to the practical reasons why there is a gender gap at the top. A large percentage of even the most highly educated, talented and driven women eventually reach a point when they can’t easily blend an all-consuming job with three other huge jobs: caring for children, aging parents and themselves.

This isn’t a reality that women openly discuss with their managers or in corporate-leadership programs focused only on rising to the top. Women fear the “lightweight” label and feel guilty about letting down the power sisterhood.

When the workforce recognizes many definitions of ambition and success and encourages women to grow in place during heavy caregiving periods, many more women will find sanity and satisfaction and keep on track for the ultimate brass ring: long-term financial security from work that fits and funds life.

Kathryn Sollmann

Wilton, Conn.

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