There are a couple crazy-making statistics about American women in the workforce: The United States has among the most highly educated women of any country in the world. Among developed countries, it has one of the highest birth rates. And the highest percentage of mothers who work full-time. It also has one of the highest rates of educated mothers who drop out of the labor force. (And the “wage gap” for working mothers and the dearth of them in leadership roles in business and academia, let’s not get started ... )
A recent study by economists Jane Leber Herr and Catherine Wolfrom, analyzing a Harvard alumni survey as well as another college survey, found that nearly 30 percent of women who earn MBAs have dropped out of the workforce 15 years after graduation, as do women with Harvard undergraduate degrees. About one quarter of lawyers do.
Herr theorizes that many of the women don’t choose to leave so much as find that inflexible workplaces make it close to impossible to balance work and family responsibilities.
I’m writing about a new movement of recruiting firms negotiating for flexible work for working mothers and others in search of an alternative work environment to help them “opt in” and stay part of the workforce, involved mothers and sane.
Do you have an opt-out or an opt-in story to tell? Do you work in a flexible environment? If you don’t, would you rather? If you do, does it work? Write about it on the Story Lab blog in the comments section below or e-mail me at email@example.com. I’ll compile what you tell us and publish what we all come up with here.