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“A full-time career? Why should I be doing this to myself?” Why close to a million women choose not to participate in the workforce – a guest post by Ingrid Messner

Do these ‘ladies of leisure’ pose a threat to Australia’s productivity? This is what a recent headline in The Australian newspaper indicated. The blame seems to be on us women – if only we were to choose to work, the danger of the ticking population time-bomb will be so much smaller. I’m not sure that this is a fair representation of the current situation. Why did so many women choose to leave the workforce in the fist place?

The author of the article, Christian Kerr, referred back to the findings of a Productivity Commission working paper on the labour force participation of women aged over 45. Although the paper delivers a very detailed image of the current work force status of these women, it fails to examine the real reasons behind the issue in more detail.

 

There are a few key factors influencing the decision of a woman to work in businesses or not. All of these factors start to affect women already in their 20s negatively (working hours, place of work, pay, culture, and others). These factors can become more and more challenging and annoying over the period of a woman’s career until, eventually, they wear her down and she leaves her job (obviously at a point when she has gained some sort of financial security).

 

However, I believe that the main reason why many women leave the workforce is because they can’t find any meaning in their work. They lack the enduring motivation to master all the challenges. And why should they still be motivated? After mastering all the outer challenges, their inner drive and motivation is no longer there.
Some male leadership-styles focusing only on the “better, stronger, faster” approach seem not to provide any framework for finding more meaning at work. Many female employees just don’t know why they should actually go to work – day in and day out. What for? What is the vision? What can she contribute? What does the business really value about her? A new transformational leadership style that truly engages all employees is needed.

 

Many mature women resort to more voluntary and social work where they can choose a cause that they are passionate about and for which they want to make a difference. Suddenly, they fell energized again. Obviously, their (male) bosses weren’t able to share with them a vision and space at work where these women could have contributed in a similar way within the business. It is a missed opportunity for everyone.
Thus, by fully understanding how their female employees prefer to work, business leaders can have a huge influence on securing Australia’s productivity … and future!

 

About the author: Ingrid Messner is an Executive Coach and Change facilitator who works with business leaders to create clear, engaging and sustainable visions and action plans. For more information explorewww.authenticvalues.com.au

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2 weeks ago

Jen Dalitz

What are the lessons you’re teaching your kids? We took the opportunity of a holiday long weekend to visit my mum interstate as the timing of the trip coincided with my son’s favourite AFL team battling it out against my mum’s beloved team. Perhaps only those of you with the love for AFL will appreciate why we’d plan a long distance trip around a game of footy, but suffice to say it was a passion project! With every ounce of anticipation, the game was a tough, tight duel and could easily have gone either way. Yet when the final siren sounded, it wasn’t our team that was smiling. It sure is tough for a 10 year old boy to sit within a crowd 41,000+ people all cheering for the opposite side. It was tough for him to see the exhaustion and disappointment on the faces of the players he adores. And yet, it’s so important for him to learn that his team won’t always win. There’s so many lessons in that, but the one I chose to instil is that you won’t always back the team that wins but you’ll always back the team that you love. That’s why I asked him to wear his team colours home the next day, and show his support even when the chips are down. That’s the kind of commitment I want my son to learn and the kind of team player I want him to be. PS. #gotheGiants @GWSGiants #neversurrender ... See MoreSee Less

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2 months ago

Jen Dalitz

I haven’t been here in a while as the writing has been on hold. But I was reminded today that there are things in our life that light us up. That might take us out of our comfort zone but, once you sit with it, bring you both joy and a sense of “I can do this” achievement. These moments are such a gift. So I’m curious, what’s your special thing that lights you up?

Despite (or in spit of) my professional career, these moments for me normally involve my horses. I’ll never be an equestrian Olympian, but I take great pleasure in all the lessons my horses teach me. They remind me that it’s a team effort, we’re in it together, and that if I’m prepared to give a little bit more, they will too. That’s true whether we’re on the ground taking care of their feet, or grooming, or when I’m atop riding as one. Two hearts one team.
It’s hard to describe the adrenaline and joy they bring to my life. But I’d love to know, what lights you up??
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And so, maybe time does change some things. Or women do.

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– They let me go at 42 because they told me I was too old to represent women's dreams. #kvinnedagen

Watch our talk show interview with Isabella Rossellini here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRa7UptZ3qw
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