How to Close a Gender Gap: Let Employees Control Their Schedules縮小職場性別差距的關鍵：彈性上班工時
文/Claire Cain Miller
The main reason for the gender gaps at work — why women are paid less, why they’re less likely to reach the top levels of companies, and why they’re more likely to stop working after having children — is employers’ expectation that people spend long hours at their desks, research has shown.
It’s especially difficult for women because they have disproportionate responsibility for caregiving.
Flexibility regarding the time and place that work gets done would go a long way toward closing the gaps, economists say. Yet when people ask for it, especially parents, they can be penalized in pay and promotions. Social scientists call it the flexibility stigma, and it’s the reason that even when companies offer such policies, they’re not widely used.
A new job search company, Werk, is trying to address the problem by negotiating for flexibility with employers before posting jobs, so employees don’t have to.
All the positions listed on the Werk site, including some from Facebook, Uber and Samsung, are highly skilled jobs that offer some sort of control over the time and place of work. People can apply to jobs that let them work away from the office all the time or some of the time, and at hours other than 9-to-5, part time or with minimal travel.
Another option gives workers the freedom to adjust their schedules, no questions asked, because of unpredictable obligations, like a sleepless night with a toddler or a trip to the emergency room with an older parent.
“Nobody wants to be the female in the department who says, ‘My kid threw up on me this morning; I can’t come in,’” said Annie Dean, who worked as a lawyer before starting Werk with Anna Auerbach, a former consultant. “Eighty percent of companies say they offer flexibility, but it’s a black market topic. You raise it and you’re not taken seriously.”
For now, Werk is a limited experiment. Most of the employers are small companies, and it is aimed at an elite group of women — highly educated and on a leadership track. But it could provide lessons for how to improve work and make it more equal for a broader group.
Women who have less education or are paid hourly wages have significantly less flexibility than professional women to begin with. It makes working and caregiving that much harder.
Motherhood presents a different challenge for the elite women that Werk was made for. The careers that pay the most and require the most education, like business and law, also have the most gender inequality. Why? Economists have found it’s a result of the long hours and limited flexibility.
France’s Obsession With Decline Is a Booming Industry法國人對「衰弱」的迷戀 成就興旺產業
Michel Onfray, a best-selling French pop philosopher, was sounding pretty upbeat on the phone, even though the title of his latest book is “Decadence: The Life and Death of the Judeo-Christian Tradition.”
His book had just come out, with an impressive press run of 120,000 copies, and was selling briskly in spite of — or perhaps because of — its gloomy prognostication. “If you think today about terrorism, the rise of populism, it was important to put that in perspective,” Onfray said recently. His research, he added, “shows a civilization that had been strong, that had ceased to be so and that’s heading toward its end.”
Onfray is one of the latest popular authors to join France’s booming decline industry, a spate of books and articles (with a handful of TV shows) that explore the country’s (and the West’s) failings and France’s obsession with those failings. (Last year, the word “declinisme,” or “declinism,” entered France’s Larousse dictionary.) It’s a phenomenon that cuts across the political spectrum and has picked up velocity in recent years by tapping into an anxious national mood. And its loudest voices are intellectuals with platforms in the national news media.
Beyond Onfray’s, other books with decline on their minds have appeared in the past few weeks. “The Returned,” a best seller by journalist David Thomson, is an investigative report about French jihadis who’ve returned home from Syria. “A Submissive France: Voices of Defiance” compiles interviews on France’s troubled banlieues, or suburbs, overseen by historian Georges Bensoussan. “Chronicles of French Denial,” by right-leaning economist and historian Nicolas Baverez, is about how France continued its economic decline under President Francois Hollande.
There’s also “An Imaginary Racism” by left-leaning philosopher Pascal Bruckner, who was recently cleared of charges of inciting hate speech and argues that fear of being labeled Islamophobic is leading people to self-censor their speech, while in November, Sciences Po professor Gilles Kepel published “The Fracture,” which explores how the radicalization of some young Muslims is tearing apart French society.
“The thing that’s very striking now is how pervasive those ideas are,” said Sudhir Hazareesingh, a professor at Oxford University and author of “How the French Think.” “One of the things characteristic of the present moment is this idea that decline and decadence are not just the preserve of the extreme right.”