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How Remote Work Promotes Gender Equality

Women are leaving the workforce in record numbers - could remote work be a solution?

In the modern workforce, gender is a major factor when it comes to equality. As much as some would love to believe that women always have a fair shake, we know better. Women who work in male- dominated fields will tell you that their appearance is often more scrutinized than their male counterparts. 

Specialists in their fields will tell you they have been consistently undervalued or talked over in comparison to their male colleagues. Other worries like racism, ageism, ableism against those with disabilities, and religious discrimination can be magnified for female workers. 

Despite regulations to curtail discrimination, women with families are passed over for promotions, or expected to “lean out” of their career over schedule conflicts.

The Problem

In a two- income family, some find they have to choose between the high cost of childcare or one parent leaving the workforce. Other families simply don’t want to miss out on the formative years of their children. Still more workers face the hardship of managing elder care. 

Traditional jobs with rigid schedules allow little flexibility for managing a family. Wage disparity often makes this the burden of the woman, who faces additional trouble reentering the workforce later on. 

A Kaiser Family Foundation poll of nonworking adults aged 24 to 54 in the United States in 2014 found 61 percent of women weren’t working due to family responsibilities. This far outweighed their male counterparts, coming in at 37 percent. Nearly 75% of those women said if they could find work from home or a job with flexible hours, they would consider going back.

Enter Remote Work

With each new advance in technology, we see more flexible and manageable ways to work. As remote work gains traction, we see the beginning of a new competition in the workforce. As workers find jobs easier through new Internet work platforms, the associated task of searching for clients is reduced. 

That means a remote worker can get to work doing what they do best faster, and manage their time even more flexibly. Some freelancers spend far too much time chasing down employers for money owed, but until recently this has been an infuriating accepted cost of doing business.

Gary Becker’s book,The Economics of Discrimination, suggests that in a more competitive economy one can expect to see talent rise to the top- for the simple fact that hiring purely according to bias wastes money.

Location Independent Meritocracy  

Remote work is a better example of meritocracy in this way. Virtual interaction requiring less face- to – face interaction (and therefore inherent risk of hiring bias), coupled with competition, involves less prejudice across the board. 

Payoneer is a payment platform for freelancers that confirms whereas in most Western economies women make around 20 to 25% less, they make only 3% less than men online.

Ultimately, a more accessible workforce is a more just workforce. Women deserve options, and remote work may be the solution for a huge percentage of them.

Annie Brown is the founder of Lips, a creative sharing platform for women, and a Guest Lecturer at UC San Diego's Rady School of Management. 

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