I have three little girls that have not yet reached elementary school age. They are smart, pretty, spirited, opinionated, and dramatic forces to be reckoned with – all rolled into three individual beings.
Being a mom to these girls has completely changed the way I look at world issues like fair pay, educational reform and respect for the decisions made by women worldwide. I tend to take longer to make decisions in election years and fight a little bit harder for the extra pay or time off I feel I deserve. Instead of taking the easiest route, especially when it comes to my career choices, I push back a little bit more with the belief that the strides I make will cause the path to be a little less bumpy for my daughters.
No matter what their choices in the future, I am optimistic that I am leaving behind a better working environment for my daughters. Here are a few reasons why:
Affordable Education. The average
college graduate in America carries a student loan debt of nearly
$25,000 upon graduating with a four-year degree. The price can be even higher for for-profit colleges, where nearly 96% take out student loans, compared to 50% at four-year public schools. Forget buying a home or even a moped with those kinds of bills to pay back.
Despite this discouraging present-day figure, I believe a college education, or similar job training, will be much more affordable by the time my girls are done with high school. The American Graduation Initiative enacted in 2012 is a push to expand the services of community colleges and offer more flexible courses and payment options for students. This push, along with increases in Pell grants and talk of income-based student loan repayment initiatives, makes me confident that my girls will be able to afford higher education in order to reach whatever career dream they have.
Better Pay. It is a fact that for every dollar a man earns in America, a woman makes 77 cents. This is disheartening, especially in cases where the exact same work is earning a woman a smaller paycheck. The gap is closing in on pay inequality, however. In 1970, women made just 60 percent of their male peers. The passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act ensures that the distance between these numbers will continue to shorten. When my youngest enters the full-time workforce in 20 years or so, I am confident she will be inheriting one where she will earn what she deserves, or at least much closer to it.
Flexibility Options. Communication technology has made the idea of working a virtual schedule a reality. I will never have to explain to my daughters why they will likely face a career crossroads if and when they decide to start a family. I truly believe the technology will be firmly in place that allows them to do both well if they so desire. I also think the quality of child care facilities will continue to increase (they are pretty darn good now) and men will continue to speak up about their own needs for family/career flexibility too.
More Respect. I recently saw a vintage ad page floating around with a group of beautiful, if dated, women under the headline “Presenting the Losers.” You can check it out for yourself, but the gist of the ad for an airline was that for every one beautiful, refined and intelligent stewardess it hired, 19 others were passed up. Thus, the losers in the picture. A contemporary reader, like myself, would immediately find this form of degradation offensive but it probably didn’t ruffle too many feathers upon its release. We’ve come a long way. But there is still room for growth when it comes to respect in the workplace for women. Cultural change starts at individual desks in singular offices and I believe it is taking place and will continue to in coming decades.
Whatever marketplace my little ones enter, they will have their work cut out for them. As technology continues to improve, some jobs will be streamlined while others are completely eliminated. There will be new challenges that none of us can even fathom today but with the positive trends I see taking place, it will be a better working climate for my daughters and all of our children.
Katie Parsons is a part-time writer for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes in business news affecting major markets in the U.S. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide. She is also the administrator for a community blog for moms.