Nov 4, 2018

Why women leave the workforce

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The punchiest and most compelling excoriation of sexism in the workplace you're likely to read this week comes from Natalie Portman (yes, that Natalie Portman) on Medium.

Driving the news: Women constitute 50% of graduates from law school, business school and film school — but only a small minority of the most successful professionals in those industries.

  • Exceptions to the rule, in areas like gynecology and film-industry wardrobe departments, dispel the myth that women voluntarily drop out of demanding professions.
  • Women can make much less than 70 cents on the male dollar. Like, in some circumstances, just 1 cent. Basketball star Skylar Diggins-Smith has a rookie contract of $40,000, because she's a woman. An equally qualified man earns $4 million for doing the same job.

"The reason women in nearly every industry are not represented in powerful positions is because women are being discriminated against," writes Portman.

There’s a theory that’s often cited that women drop out of the workforce to focus on motherhood, or because the workplace isn’t conducive enough to rearing children. And I used to believe that too. But it always seemed suspicious as a reason — like a woman would spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on law school, and all the time and hard work to graduate, and all the hours and stress to pass the bar, and then work for years at a law firm, and then give up her 6 or 7-figure job that she loves and has invested so much into, because she didn’t ever consider she might have to find childcare for her kid? A woman who can probably easily afford childcare? It was confusing, but I bought it, cause, well, I don’t know. I’m a sheep. Now, I would like to dispel that myth.
Natalie Portman, Why Women Leave
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