Can Working Remotely Help Women Get Ahead?
I've been asked this question many times over the course of running a virtual software business and now running a virtual e-commerce business. But the assumption often underlying the question is that a woman working from home has more flexibility to handle the family emergencies and responsibilities, and thus will be better at "doing it all." I'm disturbed by this assumption.
What will help women succeed in leadership positions is not having more flexibility to take on more work, but rather having a more equitable distribution of the domestic workload. And that is something remote work can help with.
I was quoted in the Fast Company article "How Remote Workplaces Benefit Women" making the argument that virtual work creates more flexibility for both men and women, which is helping level the playing field for women.
I strongly believe that what will give women an equal chance at leadership success is not just flexibility for them, but flexibility for everyone. What gives me the confidence that I can successfully devote myself to running this company is knowing that I have a husband jumping in to help with the kids. Yes, the flexibility of my schedule helps, but the flexibility of his schedule is also required.
And while helpful, I don’t think a virtual workplace is required for a woman to succeed. I’m as interested in providing women with the opportunity to be neurosurgeons or astronauts (not currently available as work-from-home options) by giving their virtually working partners the flexibility to be the “first-responders” to their family’s life challenges.
Raising a family is a team effort, whether it’s a two-parent operation or a single parent getting help from grandparents and neighbors. Work flexibility for the entire village empowers a family with diverse options, encourages equal distribution of responsibility, helps keep stress levels at bay and as a result hopefully increases well-being and happiness of the whole family. It's about making the world a better place, one family at a time.