Are Single Women Discriminated Against At Work?
Have you read the latest article that’s creating a bit of buzz in the female-focused employment world? From Marie Claire, it’s called “The Single Girl’s Second Shift,” and it’s all about the discrimination single women experience at work.
Writer Ayana Byrd uses the example of Simone Allen, a single 32-year-old lawyer who often works long hours so her colleagues can spend time with their families. Byrd writes:
It’s the newest form of workplace discrimination: single women who carry an undue burden at the office, batting cleanup for their married-with-kids coworkers….an inequity simmering under the surface in many corporate cultures, says social scientist Bella DePaulo, Ph.D., author of Singlism: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How to Stop It. According to DePaulo, “singlism” represents the myriad ways that our culture rewards married couples, from discounts on car insurance to preferential treatment in the housing market, while treating singles as second-class citizens—and it’s increasing in the office. “When almost half of the people in the U.S. are single, why do companies continue to cater to their employees who are married with children?” asks DePaulo.
Maybe it’s because I don’t work in a traditional workplace, but this is honestly an inequity that’s never occurred to me. I will say that if I did work in a traditional workplace, I don’t think I would have a problem taking on a little more work so my mom or dad coworker could get to their kid’s daycare on time, for example; But if it were a regular and not just occasional thing, I can see how it would breed a large amount of resentment and unhappiness.
Margaret Wheeler has an interesting take on Byrd’s article over at HuffPost Women. She sees several overarching messages in Byrd’s article, one of which is that women need to learn how to say no to extra work. But that breeds several new problems, like that women who push back face a stigma…but if they don’t push back, they’re seen as pushovers. She writes:
Ask not to work as much and make sure you’re not seen as someone who works all the time, but produce the same quality and/or amount of work. So the message to stand up for yourself gets transformed into, “Get the same amount done in less time, because no one likes someone who looks like she’s trying too hard.” That sounds a lot like yet another manifestation of the cultural allergy to female strivers that has affected women across fields, from Anne Hathaway to Kirsten Gillibrand. Why can’t we strike a balance wherein it’s acceptable for women to be visibly ambitious and hardworking and for both women and men to admit that everyone deserves time to watch Bravo and drink margaritas outside?