Workplace Culture

Women Lead the Way

By Staff Report

Mar. 9, 2012

The No. 1 seeds in this tournament will get plenty of attention, and votes, but look for women in workforce to rule the day when it’s all over.

Nobody can deny the impact that technology has had on the workforce. Changes in productivity, workflow, skills, and environment are common with every wave of new business tools that enter the market. No. 1 seeds the Internet and the Personal Computer are no different. When I entered the workforce in the ’80s, there wasn’t a PC on every desk the way there is today, and the Internet wasn’t even a glimmer in Al Gore’s eye.

There is no doubt that both have had a significant impact on the workforce, and I expect both to get a ton of votes, but I don’t think either wins this tournament The other two No. 1 seeds, Health Care Reform and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are also good choices. Massive media coverage surrounding health care Reform and the historical significance of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 make them clear favorites in the early rounds, but as far as I’m concerned, in this tournament, women will rule.

That’s right. I’m predicting an upset.

It’s hard to deny the incredible impact women have had on the workforce over the past 90 years. Look at the raw numbers. Today, more than half of U.S. workers are women, before 1922 they were only 15 percent. Demographically, no group comes close to matching the sheer volume of talent women have introduced to the workforce.

Think about the social, legal, economic and cultural impact that women have had on the workforce, especially over the past 40 years. Issues like equal pay (gender-based), sexual harassment, maternity leave, flexible work schedules, the Family and Medical Leave Act, Title VII, and day care for the young and old are just a few of the big legal and benefit issues that employers face every day. Had women not entered the workforce in such large number, none of these would be as important as they are today.

Heck, the workplace is actually the most likely place to meet your spouse. According to a CareerBuilder study, 4 in 10 workers have dated a co-worker, and 3 out of every 10 marriages began as work relationships.

Consider all the products and services that practically owe their existence to the two-income family. Day care, elder care, house cleaning, and the whole prepared meals section of your grocery store … would any of those be what they are today had women not entered the workforce in droves?

In addition to creating the need for new products and services, according to the Wall Street Journal women start new businesses at a much faster clip than men—twice as fast, in fact.

So, how will this play out in the tournament?

Look for Rosie the Riveter, the 1940s icon representing women’s entrée into manufacturing to score some big upsets. Gloria Steinem will also be a strong contender and win convincingly before falling to the Personal Computer, I think, in the regional semifinal round.

The Two Income Household definitely deserves it’s No. 2 seed, but my pick to win it all is Women in the Workforce.

Todd Johnson is Workforce Management’s publisher. To comment, email editors@workforce.com.

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