During Women’s History Month, we remember and celebrate the incredible women who have helped to build our nation’s businesses, schools, organizations, and families.
We also recognize that they have accomplished so much—and continue to do so—while earning less money than men who do the same work.
As the fight for gender equality goes on, we have seen progress in several areas thanks to the efforts of some companies and individuals. One tool that has proven particularly useful in reducing inequality is remote work.
Studies show that women’s traditional caregiving responsibilities are a major factor causing the ongoing gender pay gap, as “there is a sharp decline in women’s earnings (men in comparison do not experience the same drop) after the birth of their first child,” says an article from SingularityHub. “This has a massive cumulative effect on the gender pay gap as a whole. Mothers are less likely to get offered jobs with significant travel and long hours due to negative perceptions about their ability to take on greater responsibilities. Another major issue is the lack of work flexibility for caregivers, who often want remote work options or flexible hours.
“The emerging contingent workforce is providing a much-needed solution to this problem by breaking down physical, geographic, and social barriers within the workforce. Remote work platforms allow millions of women to work from anywhere in the world for anyone in the world.”
Indeed, breaking through the traditional requirements to work certain hours in a certain cubicle can open entirely new opportunities to women, allowing them to build balanced lives while still progressing in their careers.
FlexJobs founder and CEO Sara Sutton addressed this in a Fast Company article, noting that her company, Remote.co, has found that women make up 42% of the leadership at remote companies, compared with 14.2% in S&P 500 companies.
“In addition, 28% have a female founder or cofounder, and 19% have a female CEO,” she says. “Compared to the wider business world, these numbers are stunning.”
Sutton says closing the gender gap is a “complex undertaking,” but remote work can be a powerful part of the solution. She cites a Pew survey showing that most people see women and men as equally capable leaders, “viewing women indistinguishable from men on traits like intelligence and innovation, and stronger in compassion and organization. Those attitudes are promising weapons against other biases, and remote organizations may be better positioned than others to deploy them.”
Andrea Loubier, CEO of Mailbird, echoes this sentiment in a Forbes article. Especially in the tech industry, she says, remote work options can play a significant role in helping to close the gender pay gap.
“Remote work allows women to work from wherever they feel most productive and watch their children grow up without having to hit pause on their career progression,” Loubier writes. “And for women who are not mothers, this policy is still attractive. It gives them peace of mind that they do not have to put their career goals on the back burner, and it gives them all the other benefits of remote work in the meantime.”
Businesses have a vested interest in keeping women in the workforce if they want to retain some of their brightest, most talented workers and strengthen their companies through diversity of thought and points of view. As such, offering more flexibility, and remote work most of all, should be a top priority.
Providing remote work alone will not be enough to bring about full gender equality. That effort will continue to require considerable effort on many fronts. But as people work together, using all of the tools at their disposal, we may see a time when inequality is a historical fact that we remember as a problem of the past. Consider that a goal to pursue for Women’s History Months to come.
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