In a career as a business journalist and author that spans decades, Joann Lublin has seen and written about dramatic changes in how we, as a culture, define and treat women in the workplace.
I’ve been reading Joann in the Wall Street Journal for years, as she created its first career advice column, which she wrote until May of 2020. And she shared a Pulitzer Prize at the Journal in 2003 for their work on corporate scandals. I’ve learned from her writing, and I know you’ll enjoy hearing from her in this episode as much as I did in our conversation.
In this episode of “Aim Higher,” we got to talk about her time at the Wall Street Journal as a working mom, which spanned some innovations like the introduction of family leave and flex time. And we talked about some of the changes that occurred between the Boomer generation of leaders covered in her first book about working women, Earning It and the GenX and Millennial women she spoke to in her recently published second book, Power Moms: How Executive Mothers Navigate Work and Life.
One thing that really struck me was when she reminded me that, not too long ago, women having pictures of their kids up in the office was considered “unprofessional.” It was one of those, “Wow… just wow…” moments where you have to stop and think, “Well, good thing we’ve come so far!”
“My hope for working women and men is that we will get a lot of these unconscious biases to change.” – Joann Lublin
But have we? She also shared that almost all the employment gains we’ve seen from families coming back to work after the big COVID unemployment spikes have been from fathers. She shared three reasons for this. First, because the industries more women work in have been the hardest hit. Second, because women have always “worn more hats” at home, and that got even more pronounced during the pandemic. Lastly, she reports that men didn’t step-up to do as much in-home teaching when kids had to stay home for school.
“COVID is setting back the advancement and progress of women in the workplace.” – Joann Lublin
That’s not great, of course. And as leaders, we need to step up and address those issues in our own teams. But Joann also sees some hope in her reporting from the generations she covered in her new book. She tells me that younger women are having more success because of advances in technology that make flexibility easier, because they are selecting highly supportive partners, and because the workplace ethos has changed… mainly because of the work done by the experienced women who are now mentors, role models and leaders.
She has real words of wisdom on this important subject. It’s a quick half-hour chat that will leave you wanting a lot more of her advice and counsel.
For more information, see Power Moms: How Executive Mothers Navigate Work and Life and Earning It.
Photo Credit: Christin Hume