Category Archives: 3. News You Can Use

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: Women Can’t Win

Although the gap has narrowed between what similarly qualified men and women earn—in2016 women earned 81 cents on the dollar, up from 57 cents in 1975—women still earn $1 million less than men over the course of their careers. A reportpublished by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workplace found that while women are indeed making inroads toward pay equality, the gap is still broad and difficult to bridge.

The research revealed that women have made advancements. For example, more women are choosing majors that lead to high-paying jobs. However, they still tend to choose the lowest paying areas within those fields. So, while more women now study engineering, they disproportionately make up workers entering the lowest-paying area of engineering, environmental engineering, instead of the highest earning area, petroleum engineering.

Interestingly, women now receive more bachelor’s and doctoral degrees than men and pursue fields traditionally reserved for men. Nevertheless, they still hold most of the jobs in low-paying fields overall. Even when women do choose high-paying careers such as medicine and business, fewer make it to the most lucrative specialties or the board rooms than their male counterparts.

Stereotypes and cultural biases play a big role in the pay gap, the research found. Girls are still steered away from math-related careers, typically the highest-paying occupations. Likewise, traditional notions about women’s roles push them toward occupations such as teaching that center around nurturing. Additionally, women continue to carry the primary burden for childcare, especially when children are young, which takes them out of the game for higher paying jobs.

 The report concludes that women can equalize the pay gap by doing the following:

  • earning a second degree
  • obtaining a graduate degree if majoring in the liberal arts
  • negotiating the first salary well, since it affects lifetime earnings
  • being cautious of vocational certificates, which are of limited value to women in the labor market

Discussion

  1. Why do you think many women choose low-paying fields such as education more frequently than higher paying careers?
  2. What reasons can you think of that lead to fewer women leading organizations than men?
  3. What kinds of discrimination do you imagine women face in the

Ta-ta Cubicle, Hello WeWork

Long gone—and good riddance—are offices with rows of cubicles or desks modeled after factory assembly lines. In fact, many employers today use office design as a statement of their firm’s ethos and even provide common areas for relaxing, free food, and toys to foster employees’ loyalty. Another new take on the traditional office is the common workplace—offices in which individuals and small businesses share space and costs.

WeWork, an eight-year-old company, is taking the notion of the common office to a whole new level, and its goal is nothing short of transforming the way the world thinks about work. Headquartered in New York but with services across the globe, WeWork began as an agency that offered established businesses, startups, and freelancers workspaces designed to bring community to the office place. It initially attracted freelancers and tech start-ups with features such as aesthetic design, large common areas, free beer, and piped-in music chosen to appeal to millennial workers.

Common Area, WeWork, Culver City, CA

In these spaces, businesses that typically have nothing to do with one another—a dance company and a hair care start-up, for example—work side by side. WeWork runs the spaces using economies of scale, saving renters money and allowing them to focus on their businesses.But the idea is starting to catch on with larger, more established corporations, which are moving into WeWork spaces, too. So far, The Weather Channel, GE, HSBC, and Microsoft are among those that have signed on, banking on the WeWork promise to cut operational costs by up to 50%.

Cost cutting isn’t WeWork’s only goal, though. Its founder, Adam Neumann, has a vision to offer corporate customers a WeWork operated space that provides not just a communal office but the amenities humans need for everything they do except sleep—spa, gym, restaurants, and even a dry cleaner. The reason? So strangers can come together and perhaps be the balm that salves our fractious world… or at least make connections that can lead to more cross-venture interactions.

The idea has detractors. Some paired organizations have vastly different work models and quibble like roommates. Business valuators claim the model cannot sustain itself. Still, there’s no denying that Neumann is onto something. The young company is currently valued at $20 billion.

Discussion

  1. What are the advantages to sharing work space with a mix of different businesses for individuals? small companies? large organizations?
  2. What do you think about Neumann’s idealistic goal of using the workplace to help solve problems in our divisive world?
  3. Which situations gave rise to this new model of shared office space?

Listen Up: The Right-Ear Advantage Is A Thing

In a crowded room with multiple conversations competing for your attention, it’s often difficult to hear clearly. However, if the words you’re trying to decode filter to your right ear, you have a much better chance of understanding what’s been said. It’s called the right-ear advantage, and scientists have proven the phenomenon is verifiable.

The reason is the way information is processed by the brain. Sound received by the right ear is relayed to the left hemisphere of the brain where speech is interpreted. However, when the left ear hears speech, the sound must travel to the right hemisphere and then back to the left. That delay is responsible for the right-ear advantage.

Although this phenomenon affects young children in particular, scientists recently tested the impact on adults and found that the more difficult the listening situation, the more the right-ear advantage persisted.

The implications to those entering the workforce can be critical. Listening closely to new colleagues is especially important when learning unfamiliar concepts, tasks, and information. Likewise, observing—which of course involves listening—can be key to understanding the corporate culture of a workplace.

Awareness about how your brain takes in information can make the difference between being a quick study and valuable asset to an organization, or a confused, inattentive, and clueless new-hire. So next time you want to make sure you absorb what’s being said, you might want to lean to the right.

From The Wall Street Journal

Discussion

  1. What are some reasons for developing good workplace listening skills?
  2. Why might interrupting a speaker lead to poor communication?
  3. What are some ways you can communicate that you are listening without interrupting?