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Story Lab
Posted at 09:27 PM ET, 05/07/2011

Build a Story: Tell us whether you opted out of the workforce or opted back in

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 ... )


Jennifer Folsom, who gets up at 5 a.m. to get in two hours of work at home before her family wakes up, comforts her youngest son, Anderson, who got up early and wasn't feeling well. Folsom is a Georgetown MBA who worked in finance and consulting but opted out when her life felt stretched to the breaking point after having twins. She is now opting back in to the workforce as part of a fledging movement of women seeking to return to work on more flexible terms . (Dayna Smith - For The Washington Post)
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 schulteb@washpost.com. I’ll compile what you tell us and publish what we all come up with here.

By  |  09:27 PM ET, 05/07/2011

 
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