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New Poll Shows Bipartisan Voter Mandate for Family Friendly Workplace Policies

Posted by sherrysaunders on December 5, 2012

national partnership

By the National Partnership for Women & Families

Following a divisive election, new poll results released by the National Partnership for Women & Families reveal that the nation’s voters are united in their support for making the nation’s workplaces more family friendly. Across party and demographic lines, an overwhelming majority of those surveyed said they struggle to manage their work and family responsibilities — and that they think it is important for Congress and the president to consider policies that would help, such as paid sick days and paid family and medical leave insurance.

“America’s working families are being forced to make impossible choices between the well-being of their families and their financial security every day because our nation’s workplace policies are badly out of sync with the needs of today’s workers and families,” said National Partnership President Debra L. Ness. “These new survey data clearly show that no matter which candidate voters supported for president this election, they are feeling the pressure of out-of-date workplace policies, and they want action to fix them.”

The bipartisan poll, conducted by Lake Research Partners and The Tarrance Group, found that 86 percent of voters nationwide said it is important for Congress and the president to consider new laws like paid sick days and paid family and medical leave insurance to help keep families financially secure. Nearly two-thirds said it is “very important.” Other key findings include:

  • Strong support across party lines: 73 percent of Republicans, 87 percent of independents and 96 percent of Democrats said congressional and presidential attention to family friendly policies is important.
  • Latinos, African Americans, women and young people — the very voter groups much talked about for their impact this election — felt strongest about the importance of congressional and presidential action: 79 percent of Latinos, 77 percent of African Americans, 69 percent of women and 68 percent of people under 30 considered it “very important.”
  • There is a near universal experience of struggle and hardship in trying to meet work, family and personal responsibilities: Nearly three-quarters of voters (74 percent) said they experience these challenges at least somewhat often, and nearly four in 10 said they experience conflict “all the time” or “very often.”
  • Similarly, nearly three-quarters of voters (72 percent) said they and their families would be likely to face significant financial hardships if they had a serious illness, had to care for a family member with a serious illness, or had a new child.

“There is near universal agreement among voters of all political parties that balancing work, family and personal responsibilities is a challenge,” said Brian Nienaber, vice president at The Tarrance Group. “Voters also strongly agree that a major life altering event like a new child or a seriously ill relative would cause them significant financial hardships.”

“This poll shows that voters want and need family friendly policies that help protect their economic security when illness strikes or babies are born,” said Celinda Lake, president of Lake Research Partners. “Across the board, voters are struggling to manage their responsibilities on the job and at home, they are worried about the financial impact of major health events, and they want lawmakers to adopt policies that will help. The support for paid sick days and paid family and medical leave insurance is strong and broad-based.”

The Healthy Families Act, which was introduced this Congress, would allow workers in businesses with 15 or more employees to earn up to seven job-protected paid sick days each year to be used to recover from their own illnesses, access preventive care or provide care for a sick family member. It currently has 118 cosponsors in the House of Representatives and 18 cosponsors in the Senate.

Members of Congress are also expected to work on a national family and medical leave insurance proposal that would create a federal insurance-based system to provide up to 60 days of partially-paid time off to workers to address their own serious health conditions, care for a family member with a serious health condition, or care for a newborn, newly adopted child or newly placed foster child.

“This new poll adds to an overwhelming body of evidence showing that the public strongly supports common sense, family friendly workplace policies,” said Vicki Shabo, director of work and family programs at the National Partnership. “It’s time for Congress to focus on the real challenges facing real people in this country and prioritize passage of modest, reasonable proposals like the Healthy Families Act and a national paid family and medical leave insurance program that would go a long way toward protecting the health and economic stability of our families while also strengthening our economy.”

The survey of 1,220 adults who indicated they had already voted or were likely to vote was conducted by telephone from November 4 to November 6, 2012. The sample included both landlines and mobile phones. It has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

The topline results of the poll can be found here: www.NationalPartnership.org/ElectionPoll

Posted in Economy, Families, Research, Successful Workplaces, Uncategorized, Worklife Balance | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

What Influences Women’s Leadership and Career Decisions? Take the Survey

Posted by YWM on September 18, 2012

By Sherylle Tan and Claudia Raigoza, Claremont McKenna College

The number of women entrepreneurs has been on the rise for the past two decades (Jome, Donahue, & Siegel, 2006). According to the US Census Bureau (2007), women owned 7.8 million nonfarm U.S. businesses, an increase of 20.1 percent from 2002. This accounted for 28.7 percent of businesses in the United States. A relatively new trend in entrepreneurship is the idea of the “mompreneur,” defined by Entrepreneur.com as “a female business owner who is actively balancing the role of the mom and the entrepreneur.” However, at the same time that women are venturing into entrepreneurship, the media is claiming that many professional women are opting out of the workforce to take care of their children at home[i]. In 2003, Lisa Belkin first drew substantial attention to the “Opt-Out Revolution” in her appropriately titled article published in the New York Times Magazine.

Subsequent research on women leaving the workforce has suggested that women experience many pushes and pulls that result in some women exiting the workforce[ii]. A primary pull factor for many women has to do with family responsibilities, whereas push factors often have to do with workplace challenges that women experience which include hitting the “glass ceiling,” slow career advancement, and lack of work schedule flexibility.[iii] Interestingly, many of those same family pulls and workplace pushes are the same reasons that women enter into entrepreneurship[iv].

While the reasons that women enter in entrepreneurship are similar to the reasons that women choose to leave the workforce, it appears that the relationship is not so linear. There appear to be more complex reasons that account for why women make the career transitions that they do. The career decisions and transitions that women make during the course of their lives vary and are influenced by women’s life-stages.  With the increasing number of women becoming entrepreneurs and seeking leadership through non-traditional career paths, it is important to identify and understand the important influence of life-stages in the career and leadership decisions that women make.

The Kravis Leadership Institute at Claremont McKenna College is interested in developing a better understanding of this issue. Please participate in our study, by taking our online survey. Participation is completely voluntary and confidential. The online survey takes about 20-25 minutes to complete. In gratitude, you will be entered into a drawing to win a prize of a Kindle Touch upon completing the survey. Please go to this link to start our online survey:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/womenandleadershipsurvey

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about the Kravis Leadership Institute, please feel free to contact Dr. Sherylle Tan (Director of Internship and KLI Research at the Kravis Leadership Institute) at stan@cmc.edu or go to our website: http://kli.cmc.edu/.


[i] Belkin, L. (2003). The Opt-Out Revolution. The New York Times Magazine.

[ii] Hewlett, S.A., Luce, C. B., Shiller, P., & Southwell, S. (2005). The Hidden Brain Drain: Off-Ramps and On-Ramps in Women’s Careers. Harvard Business Review Research Report. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation.

[iii] Stone, P. and Lovejoy, M. (2004). Fast-Track Women and the “Choice” to Stay Home. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, 596, 62-83.

[iv] Buttner, E.H. (1993). Female entrepreneurs: How far have they come? Business Horizon, 2, 59.

Jome, L. M., Donahue, M. P., and Siegel, L. A. (2006). Working in the Uncharted Technology Frontier: Characteristics of Women Web Entrepreneurs. Journal of Business and Psychology, 21(1), 127-147.

Hewlett, S. (2007). Off-ramps and on-ramps: Keeping talented women on the road to success. Boston: Harvard Business School Press

Posted in Career Advancement, Research, Small Business, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

From Gen Y Women to Employers: What You Need to Know about Intergenerational Workplace Dynamics

Posted by knbarrett on December 15, 2011

Kara Nichols Barrett

By Kara Nichols Barrett, lead project researcher

Business and Professional Women’s Foundation new report – From Gen Y Women to Employers: What They Want in the Workplace and Why it Matters for Business – explores Gen Y women’s career choices and the opportunities and challenges they face in the workplace. Results from our national survey of Gen Y (born 1978-1994) women challenged popular perceptions of Gen Y women in the workplace. Over the last few weeks, we’ve examined key misconceptions related to work values, work-life balance and gender in the workplace.

Today’s topic is intergenerational workplace dynamics. Over 660 Gen Y women told us about:

  • the severity of generational conflict and discrimination in the workplace;
  • their personal experiences with generational conflict and discrimination in the workplace;
  • the common sources of generational conflict and discrimination in the workplace;
  • their responses to generation conflict and discrimination; and
  • their recommendations to help employers improve intergenerational workplace dynamics.

Here are the top three messages from Gen Y women to employers about intergenerational workplace dynamics.

Age Bias isn’t exclusively reserved for mature workers. We’ve read When Generations Collide, and books like it, that describe the workplace as a battlefield. Based on the literature, we too assumed Gen Y would sense the tension between generations. They do. But, not the way we expected. We assumed Gen Y would describe the generational conflict they experienced because of differences in values, communication style, technology use, and work-life balance.  Respondents reported something different. They described experiences with ageism. Robert Neil Butler, who coined the term in the late 1960s, defined ageism as a combination of three elements: prejudicial attitudes, discriminatory behaviors and institutional policies or practices that perpetuate stereotypes against a particular age group. Gen Y women provided examples of all three elements of ageism. Forty-percent of Gen Y women reported not being taken seriously because of their age, being called names such as “kid,” being held to different standards because of their age and being passed over for promotions because of their age.

The phenomenon of ageism in employment is typically applied to older adults. However, more studies are emerging that support the hypothesis that young workers can be disadvantaged in the workplace by age stereotyping. One study found that one-third of all business students had experienced age discrimination in employment – being given relatively low-paid jobs because of beliefs associated with their age and being given less responsibility because of beliefs associated with youth and trustworthiness.

Gen Y + Woman = SOL. What happens when a young worker – already subjected to discriminatory attitudes, policies and practices because of age – also happens to be a woman? The discrimination intensifies. BPW Foundation survey results suggest that gender and age have a compounding effect. Gen Y women who had experienced gender discrimination were more likely to report generational conflict or age bias than those who had not. Over 50 percent of Gen Y women who experienced gender discrimination also reported generational discrimination. Our findings corroborate with previous studies on the gender dimension of ageism in the workplace. One study described being a woman and being young as a “double jeopardy.” Being a woman seems to intensify the age prejudice at work.

You may have the right answer to the wrong question. Management strategies for addressing generational conflict in the workplace assume that workers from different generations clash because of their differences – be they work ethics, work style or communication. Interventions focus on identifying, understanding, appreciating and accommodating differences. Lessons from the literature on ageism indicate an alternate entry point – beliefs, attitudes and perceptions. Studies on ageism in the workplace indicate that it is beliefs about differences, not the differences themselves that lead to discriminatory practices and policies. Posing questions about the differences between generations versus the beliefs about generational differences will lead to different sets of solutions. Gen Y women report that generational diversity is important and recognize the benefits gained from workplaces that include a variety of professional experiences and perspectives. Developing efforts to identify and address age discrimination may be an important strategy for improving intergenerational workplace dynamics.

This research, funded by the Virginia Allan Young Careerist Grant, is part of BPW Foundation’s ongoing “Young Careerist” research project that since 2005 has been exploring the career opportunities and challenges facing today’s young working women.  The research gives voice to a distinct group of working women who are vital to developing a diverse and skilled workforce.  Research has been conducted using social media, focus groups and this national survey. To find all of the research and this report, visit our Young Careerist website.

Posted in Career Advancement, Gen Y, Research, Successful Workplaces, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

From Gen Y Women to Employers: What You Need to Know about Gender Discrimination in the Workplace

Posted by knbarrett on December 7, 2011

By Kara Nichols Barrett, lead project researcher

Business and Professional Women’s Foundation’s new report – From Gen Y Women to Employers: What They Want in the Workplace and Why it Matters for Business – explores Gen Y women’s career choices and the opportunities and challenges they face in the workplace. Results from our national survey of Gen Y (born 1978-1994) women challenged popular perceptions of Gen Y women in the workplace. Over the last two weeks, we’ve examined key misconceptions about  work values and work-life balance.

Today’s topic is gender in the workplace. Over 660 Gen Y told us about:

  • the severity of gender discrimination in the workplace;
  • the most common forms of gender discrimination in the workplace;
  • their personal experiences with gender discrimination in the workplace;
  • their responses to gender discrimination in the workplace; and
  • their recommendations to help employers promote gender equitable workplaces.

Here are the top three messages from Gen Y women to employers about gender discrimination in the workplace.

It’s a problem. Recent studies depict our generation of women as optimistic about gender equality in the workplace.  Employers are told that we don’t perceive gender discrimination as a major problem in the workplace. A study commissioned by Levi Strauss & Co. found that less than one in five Gen Y women in the United States believe that their gender is an obstacle in attaining their work-related goals. Another study found that of all the generational cohorts, Gen Y women are most likely to believe that deliberate discrimination is declining. It’s easy to take these reports and decide that Gen Y women believe gender discrimination is a thing of the past. Not so fast. Just because we expect gender equality doesn’t mean that’s what we experience in the workplace. According to the BPW Foundation survey, almost 50% of us have observed or experienced gender discrimination in the workplace. And, we believe it’s a problem. Over 75% of us believe gender discrimination is a moderate or severe problem in today’s workplace.

It’s a problem that goes beyond deliberate or hostile actions. Yes, deliberate and hostile forms of discrimination still exist. We have experienced sexual harassment, exclusion from professional opportunities and unequal compensation. But one of the most prevalent forms of gender discrimination that we face is stereotyping. It’s a form of discrimination that is much harder for employers to recognize and root out. We recognize that most people don’t think women should be judged by higher standards. Most people would agree that’s unfair, right? Yet, we experience it in the workplace all the time. Why? We inevitably categorize a worker as either a “man” or a “woman.” Cordelia Fine, an academic psychologist and author of Delusions of Gender, argues that when we make the categorization of “man or “woman”:

“We perceive them through the filter of cultural beliefs and norms. This is sexism gone underground- unconscious and unintentional.”

Research also suggests that this “unconscious” prejudice and discrimination is also potentially more harmful for women’s work performance than more blatant forms of discrimination. If you’re concerned about the business costs of gender discrimination – lower productivity and employee morale to name two – and want to tackle discrimination in your organization, you’ll need to identify and address both the explicit and hidden forms of gender discrimination.

 It’s a problem that requires thorough examination. Addressing gender discrimination in the workplace requires more than a policy fix.  How organizations and individuals treat men and women relate to our socially constructed categories of “man” and “woman.” Far too often cultural beliefs and assumptions about men and women workers go unquestioned and examined. As a first step, we suggest that you examine stereotyped assumptions about men and women employees within your organization.

  • How do your organizational policies reflect cultural beliefs and assumptions about men and women?
  • How do your organization’s hiring and promotion practices reflect cultural beliefs and assumptions about men and women?
  • How do interactions between colleagues and supervisors reflect cultural beliefs and assumptions about men and women?

This research, funded from the Virginia Allan Young Careerist Grant, is part of BPW Foundation’s ongoing “Young Careerist” research project that since 2005 has been exploring the career opportunities and challenges facing today’s young working women.  The research gives voice to a distinct group of working women who are vital to developing a diverse and skilled workforce.  Research has been conducted using social media, focus groups and this national survey. To find all of the research and this report, visit our Young Careerist website.

Posted in Career Advancement, Equal Pay, Gen Y, Gender Discrimination, Research, Successful Workplaces, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

From Gen Y Women to Employers: What You Need to Know about Work-Life Balance

Posted by knbarrett on November 30, 2011

Business and Professional Women’s Foundation recently released From Gen Y Women to Employers: What They Want in the Workplace and Why it Matters for Business, a report that explores Gen Y women’s career choices and the opportunities and challenges they face in the workplace. Results from our national survey of Gen Y (born 1978-1994) women challenged popular perceptions of Gen Y women in the workplace. Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore some of the key misconceptions across four thematic areas: work values, work-life balance, gender in the workplace and inter-generational workplace dynamics.

By Kara Nichols Barrett, lead project researcher

Today’s topic is work-life balance. Over 660 Gen Y told us about:

  • the relative importance of work-life balance;
  • their definition of work-life balance;
  • challenges to achieving work-life balance; and
  • individual and employer strategies for achieving work-life balance.

Here are the top “do’s” and “don’ts” from Gen Y women to employers on work-life balance.

Don’t underestimate its importance. We know it sounds like a broken record to state yet again that Gen Y women value work-life balance. But, work-life balance is REALLY important. Ninety-six percent of us ranked it as either very important or important. What’s more, the importance we place on work-life balance cuts across our key areas of difference: occupation, marital status, and whether or not we have children. Too often work-life balance is treated only as work-family conflict. This approach misses the mark in three important ways.

  1. It excludes Gen Y workers without children. Work-life balance is equally important to us whether or not we have children. When work-life balance programs and policies favor workers with children, formal and informal rules often preclude Gen Y workers from work-life programs.
  2. It narrowly defines “family.” Almost three-quarters of us reported that family is very important. We are granddaughters, daughters, sisters, aunts, spouses and partners. Our family responsibilities extend beyond the nuclear family.
  3. It disregards responsibilities and interests outside of work and home. There’s more to life than work and home. In addition to work and family, the following aspects of life are also important to us: hobbies (55%), friends (44%), exercise (43%), and volunteering (36%).

Do ask us what it means. Just because the majority of us believe work-life balance is important doesn’t mean that we all understand or define it the same way. Twenty-five percent of us want to maintain separate spheres, 50% want to integrate work and life and 18% believe that work-life balance is really about workplaces better reflecting the realities of the workforce.

Don’t expect us to live up to the 1960s “ideal worker.” We aren’t looking for a policy or programmatic fix; we want different workplace assumptions and rules. Too many of our workplaces are built off of the 1960s “ideal worker” – the worker who is available anytime, anywhere and for as long as you need. Most of us don’t want to be that worker. Most of us believe that work is important and can be meaningful and enjoyable, but we don’t want to mistake our jobs for our lives. If you are really serious about addressing our work-life challenges, you’ll have to explore assumptions about the “ideal worker” and the role of work in an employee’s life.

Do focus on work arrangements.  We know there’s a wide range of programmatic options for employers looking to boost work-life balance. No one is going to complain about onsite health services or a games room, but we suggest that you start with how work is structured. We want programs that address when, where and how work is done. Thirty-seven percent of us said that the most important program an employer could offer is flexible scheduling, 26% said results-based orientation and 15% said telecommuting.

Be sure to check out Chapter Two of the report for a complete overview of our work-life balance research findings and employer implications and applications.

This research, funded from the Virginia Allan Young Careerist Grant, is part of BPW Foundation’s ongoing “Young Careerist” research project that since 2005 has been exploring the career opportunities and challenges facing today’s young working women.  The research gives voice to a distinct group of working women who are vital to developing a diverse and skilled workforce.  Research has been conducted using social media, focus groups and this national survey. To find all of the research and this report, visit our Young Careerist website.

Posted in Families, Gen Y, Research, Worklife Balance | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

From Gen Y Women to Employers: What You Need to Know about Our Work Values

Posted by knbarrett on November 22, 2011

Last week, Business and Professional Women’s Foundation released a new report – From Gen Y Women to Employers: What They Want in the Workplace and Why it Matters for Business. The results from a national survey of Gen Y (born 1978-1994) women challenged popular perceptions of Gen Y women in the workplace. Over the next two weeks, we’ll explore some of the key misconceptions across four thematic areas: work values, work-life balance, gender in the workplace and intergenerational workplace dynamics.

By Kara Nichols Barrett, lead project researcher

Today’s topic is work values. Over 660 Gen Y told us about:

  • how they view work;
  • their most important career values;
  • their “must have” benefits;
  • what motivates them to produce results at work; and
  • what enables them to do their best at work.

Here are the top four messages for employers about Gen Y women’s work values.  

  1. Same Same but Different. Yes, we belong to the same age group. We were influenced by the same historical events such as September 11th, the dot-com bubble, the Columbine High School shooting, and the controversial 2000 elections. Sharing a particular historical period, however, does not translate into shared work values. Literature on Gen Y often suggests that our values are uniform. But, it’s not true. We are more than our age group. Who we are and what we value is also shaped by gender, race, education, and our occupations. Our most important values range from achievement to creativity to altruism to compensation. You’ll be hard pressed to determine a core set of career values for us. If you’re hoping to make an employee/employer values match, it’s best to start by articulating your organizations values and then look for Gen Y women who share those values.
  2. Work ain’t about the cha-ching, cha-ching. We hold work in high regard. Most of us believe that work can be enjoyable and meaningful. Few of us perceive work as drudgery or believe that work is simply about picking up a paycheck. That doesn’t mean that money isn’t important to us, though. In fact, increased pay is one of our top motivating factors for producing results. If you’re looking for strategies to motivate us, here’s our top five: give us a new challenge, increase our pay, increase our responsibility, say “thank you” when we do good work, and consider promoting us.
  3. Please meet our basic needs. We know there are lots of different ideas about our “must have” benefits. Some authors suggest that you should focus on non-traditional benefits to attract us such as: game rooms, exercise rooms and free movie tickets. That may be attractive to some, but it’s important to remember that we’re real people with real needs. We want our basic needs met: health insurance, paid leave and retirement.
  4. You can create an enabling environment for us to succeed. We may have different career values and motivations, but there are five factors that enable us to do our best at work:
  • Having a clear understanding of goals and expectations
  • Having open communication channels with co-workers and supervisors
  • Receiving encouragement from co-workers and supervisor
  • Having our voice heard
  • Having a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities

If you’re serious about creating an enabling environment, you’ll have to explore how gender and age impedes our ability to do our best at work. It’s hard to feel like your voice is heard when you’re referred to as a “girl” or “kid” at work. Be sure to check out chapters three and four of the BPW Foundation report.

This research, funded from the Virginia Allan Young Careerist Grant, is part of BPW Foundation’s ongoing “Young Careerist” research project that since 2005 has been exploring the career opportunities and challenges facing today’s young working women.  The research gives voice to a distinct group of working women who are vital to developing a diverse and skilled workforce.  Research has been conducted using social media, focus groups and this national survey. To find all of the research and this report, visit our Young Careerist website.

Posted in Gen Y, Research, Uncategorized, Workforce Development/HR | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Using Broadband Technology to Help Women Find Jobs, Build Careers and Expand Their Businesses

Posted by sherrysaunders on October 25, 2011

Excerpts from a presentation by BPW Foundation CEO, Deborah L. Frett at the
WIPP Conference on Using Social Media and Technology to Build Business Opportunities
Monday, October 24, 2011, Portland, ME

Deborah L. Frett, BPW Foundation CEO

Business and Professional Women’s Foundation since its inception has supported workforce development programs and workplace policies that recognize the diverse needs of working women, communities and businesses. Established in 1956 as part of BPW/USA, we were the first foundation to focus our attention on working women and how to help them establish successful careers in equitable workplaces.  Over the years we have focused on issues such access to credit, equal and fair pay, women in non traditional jobs, young careerists, women veterans, work-life balance and equal opportunity. As new issues arise we have been there to research, educate and advocate on behalf of working women. An issue that wasn’t around in 1956 is the impact and growth of the Internet, e-mail and social media on today’s working women and women business owners.  Who could have imagined?

Wanting to learn how women use high-speed Internet or broadband technology, BPW Foundation conducted an online research survey in March of this year.  The purpose of was to explore the opportunities in business and personal advancement that technology has opened up and overall, how it has impacted women’s lives.

We know that the Internet has become widely available and essential for personal interactions, education, training and economic opportunities – think job searches, marketing, researching, networking and more. But along with others we heard that women were not as technically proficient in the use of new technology.

What we learned was that ninety-three percent of the women surveyed felt that high-speed Internet has improved their lives. We have found that women continue to use high-speed technology as a critical component of building their businesses and advancing their careers. This may not be surprising but it provided us with the hard facts and numbers to back up our assumptions.

The survey shows that there are differences in high speed Internet access, use, and needs based on age, employment, military status, and geographic location.  Not surprisingly, women business owners and self-employed women use high-speed technology to build their businesses though marketing, but readily admit that they are not always aware of what they should be learning or doing to improve efficiency, and advance and maximize their results. In essence they d don’t always know what questions to ask to make the Internet work better for them.

We learned from the survey that there is a critical need to educate women on how to better and more efficiently utilize high-speed technology to empower them to remain competitive in the workplace, in their own businesses, and in their personal lives in this growing, digitally-based economy.

Additionally there is a clear need for continued focus on a competitive broadband market to allow for deployment, access and adoption that assures all women use of high-speed Internet for professional and educational development.

Some key findings include:

  • Women are constantly connected to high-speed technology, at home or away, on a range of devices.  Within sub-populations, mature women and those in rural areas are less likely than others to remain connected via mobile technology.
  • Given the need for multi-tasking by women today, increased Internet access and reliable Internet speed is essentially a requirement, integral to a variety of confidence-boosting behaviors and effective, educated decision making.
  • Women use high-speed Internet for personal and professional networking and social interaction, product research and personal business such as banking and secondarily for business marketing and development.
  • Few women in business utilize the Internet to access government procurement opportunities for professional exposure and business growth.
  • Nearly 60% of women are satisfied with their understanding of Internet pricing and provider options, but they would like to learn more about these and understand technical broadband functionality.
  • Women with experience in the military are more concerned than other populations about internet security and how they might use this technology to improve their personal security.

While there is a need for more research within some of the population subsets in our research, we found without question that broadband and mobile technology enhance the lives of working women and women seeking employment.

On the personal front, broadband access and handheld devices provide ready information and an ability to make educated decisions and respond instantly.  On the professional front, high-speed technology empowers women via their various connections to edit and add  to their resume, search for a job, write reports with a sleeping infant in their lap, download financial reports at their kitchen table at 3 am or join a conference call on their way home from caring for elderly relative.  And who knows what the future holds.

In conclusion we need competition, choice and education to strengthen the high-speed Internet market for women.  Without access to high-speed Internet, the digital literacy gap will only widen for women, hindering their successes.  Increasing Internet provider options to all communities and providing high-speed Internet options at a reasonable price is essential to bridge this gap.

We all know there are technologies around the corner that we cannot even imagine, but what ever they are we need to be sure that women are ready and able to easily use and access them.

Visit the BPW Foundation Website to read the full report

Posted in Broadband, Career Advancement, Internet, Research | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Gen Y: Just another Label?

Posted by knbarrett on June 9, 2011

My youngest sister is a psychology major. During the course of her studies, I’ve learned a lot about the potential harms of labeling. I’ve learned to talk about people as having disabilities and not being disabled. A child with high functioning autism, for example, who is labeled “autistic”, often feels pigeonholed. Yes, they have an intellectual disability, but they are more than that disability.  It is just one part of them, it doesn’t define them. Our talks about the potential pitfalls of labels have caused me to think about the term “Gen Y” and the extent to which it is helpful or harmful.

BPW Foundation is currently conducting a national survey on Generation Y (born 1978-1994) women in the workplace. We’ve had a tremendous outpouring of interest in the survey, but it has not been met with the same level of response to the survey. I have a couple theories about the response rate brewing in my head.

Today’s theory is this. . . the term Gen Y is problematical. Using the term Gen Y, which does not have a universal meaning or understanding, may in fact be driving young women away from the survey.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve had lots of informal discussions with young women about the term Gen Y. Here are the three most common reactions:

Don’t call me that!

At a recent dinner, one of my friends asked me how the survey was going and told me that she was sorry she couldn’t help me by taking the survey. When I told her that, as a 30 year old woman, she fit the age requirement for Gen Y she exclaimed, “You’re telling me that I’m Gen Y. No way. I’m not whiney and entitled. I don’t care if I technically fit into the category. I don’t want to be Gen Y. Being labeled Gen Y is downright offensive.”

The media’s portrayal of Gen Y is often negative. It’s not hard to believe that women, like my friend, would want to disassociate themselves from stereotypes such as being a lazy, spoiled and entitled. The cards are often stacked against us – we’re young and we’re women- and now you want to load us down with something else. No, thank you.

Yes, yes. That’s me!

While some reject the term, others embrace their Gen Y-ness. Far from being slam, to these women Gen Y is a label they wear with pride. Bloggers like Elysa of GenPink, Amanda of Grad Meets World and Grace of Small Hands, Big Ideas reject the hysteria about Gen Y and provide nuance and insight into generational differences.

A recent Grad Meets World post – Gen Y Manifesto – best encapsulates this category of women. Amanda discusses the psychological and professional dilemmas associated with being part of the Y Generation – not only do people belittle Gen Y’s pursuit of meaningful work but Gen Y are also faced with tough economic times for finding meaningful work. She is unapologetic about the ways in which Gen Y is different from previous generations and vows to follow her dreams, live life to the fullest, and make a difference.

Say what?

My all time favorite reaction to Gen Y was, “Is that medical term?” It’s easy as a researcher to get so consumed in a particular body of literature that you forget the books and articles you read are not necessarily at the top of everyone’s reading list. It’s easy to assume that because a discussion about Gen Y exists that it is relevant and interesting to all individuals who fit the bill. I wonder, though, how many women born between the years 1978 and 1994:

1) Know that they belong to Gen Y

2) Self-identify as Gen Y and

3) Reflect on how their generational membership affects their workplace experiences and expectations.

Regardless of your perspective on the term, Gen Y, if you are a woman born between 1978 and 1994, BPW Foundation wants to better understand what you need in order to be successful in the workplace. The information we collect through the national survey will be translated into tools that improve the way employers recruit, support and retain young women in the workplace.

The survey will remain active until June 30th. Each participant who completes the survey will be entered to win a $75 Amazon gift card.

Feel free to forward the survey link to young women you know (born between 1978-1994):

http://www.zoomerang.com/Survey/WEB22C8VZPBCW3

Posted in Career Advancement, Gen Y, Gen Yner, Research, Successful Workplaces, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Gen Y Women Workplace Survey Deadline Extended to June 30th

Posted by knbarrett on June 1, 2011

BPW Foundation would like to thank the many women who have completed the Gen Y Women in the Workplace survey and announce an extension of the survey’s deadline for those who have not yet had an opportunity to participate.

More than 480 Gen Y (born 1978-1994) women have already taken the survey but we want to hear from more of you. Your responses will help BPW Foundation develop tools that will assist employers recruit, support and retain young women like yourself. BPW Foundation is committed to working with women and employers to transform the workplace.

In order to provide additional opportunities to those who would like to complete a survey, the following link will be operational until Thursday, June 30th.

http://www.zoomerang.com/Survey/WEB22C8VZPBCW3

We appreciate you taking time to participate in this survey and want to add an incentive to complete it. All survey participants, who provide their email address, will be entered in a drawing for a $75 Amazon gift card. (You must complete the entire survey to be entered in the drawing.) Those who have already taken the survey and provided their e-mail are automatically entered.  The winner of the gift card will be announced on Friday, July 1st.


Posted in Career Advancement, Gen Y, Gen Yner, Research, Worklife Balance | Leave a Comment »

Wanna Problem Swap?

Posted by knbarrett on May 27, 2011

Have you ever noticed that it’s far easier to solve other people’s problems than your own? I actually take great delight in putting together plans for friends and colleagues. But, when it comes to my own life. . . I’m a complete mess.

It turns out my experience is consistent with recent psychological research. Studies reveal that people can achieve greater mental novelty when thinking on behalf of others.

Polman and Emich found that, “When we think of situations or individuals that are distant – in space, time, or social connection – we think of them in the abstract. But when those things are close – near us physically, about to happen, or standing beside us – we think about them concretely.”

According to Daniel Pink, this has important implications for solving problems in the workplace. He suggests the following:

  1. Disassociate yourself: Rather than focusing more intensely on a decision or problem, we often need to take a step back so that we can widen our view. Abstract thinking leads to greater creativity.
  2. Harness the power of peers. Exchanging ideas with peers can offer solutions from new perspectives. According to Joel Marc, Generation Y (born 1978-1994) is especially adept at this strategy. He suggests that one of Gen Y’s strengths is reaching out to their networks to solve problems quickly.
  3. Find a problem-swapping partner. Personally, I’ve found this tip to be very beneficial. I have a friend and colleague that I regularly toss my problems to. And, she in return throws hers to me.

You may be wondering where I’m going with all of this. Besides the fact that I’m a huge fan of all things Daniel Pink, I’m trying to put these principles into practice.

Over the last few weeks, BPW Foundation has been promoting our national survey on Gen Y Women in the Workplace. The purpose of the survey is to understand what Gen Y women need in order to be successful in the workplace and then translate that knowledge into tools that improve how employers recruit, support and retain young women. We’ve been astounded by the level of interest that the survey has received. Unfortunately, that interest level has not matched the response rate. Don’t get me wrong, Gen Y Women are definitely responding. We just haven’t met our target yet.

So, instead of fixating on my present research dilemma as I’m prone to do, I’m trying to create some distance. And, I’m writing to ask you, as peers from different backgrounds, fields and industries for your thoughts and suggestions on how we can better promote our survey. And, if anyone wants to be my problem-solving partner, I’d be happy to tackle one of your problems in exchange for this one.

Please email your comments and suggestions to youngcareerist@bpwfoundation.org.

To allow for time for peer and partner problem-solving, we’ve decided to extend the deadline for the survey. The Gen Y Women in the Workplace survey will remain active until June 30th at midnight EDT.

Posted in Career Advancement, Gen Y, Gen Yner, multigenerational, Research, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »