Fast Company – Breaking through the glass ceiling but still expected to clean up the shards: Why women in leadership are still expected to take on office housework

I wrote a piece for Fast Company looking at gendered inequity in modern workplaces. As well as looking at The Glass Cliff, I looked at gendered disparities in Office Housework – and how even the most senior women seem unable to break away from it’s grip.

Unlike their male counterparts, women even in the highest possible positions still fall prey to a whole host of hidden expectations that come in addition to their roles. As women progress in seniority, how they are expected to play mother shifts from the administrative to the emotional and interpersonal.

A report from The Lean In Foundation shows us that female leaders are twice as likely as their male counterparts to spend “substantial” amounts of time on diversity, equity, and inclusion work, in addition to their job roles, although 40% of them say this work it isn’t acknowledged or taken into account during performance reviews.

Women in leadership do twice as much work around DEI as their male peers, despite it seemingly having no direct personal or professional benefit to themselves.

Senior women are also more likely than men to be active as people-focused leaders, as they take more time to “take consistent steps to promote employee well-being, such as checking in on their team members and helping them manage their workloads.”

This is undeniably valuable, but time-consuming and emotionally draining work. And, just as doing a coffee run or taking meeting notes is overlooked in assessments of junior women’s performance, these additional caring and well-being management tasks implicitly expected of female leaders are overlooked in negotiations over compensation or recognition. With all of this in mind, it’s no wonder that 43% of female leaders report experiencing burnout in their careers.

If you’re a woman at work, none of this is likely to be any great surprise to you. Chances are you’ve both experienced these unbalanced workplace gender dynamics and seen them play out in the experiences of your female friends and colleagues—with others assigning these less desirable tasks to them, rather than volunteering themselves. So, what can women do to step out of the role of office mother when it has been thrust upon them?

Sophie Williams – Auhtor The Glass Cliff

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