Woman at laptop

Linked: Women in cybersecurity need more than inspiration

I’m not in a position to answer this question, but I can’t help but wonder in Legal Tech is much the same when it comes to child care:

“In cybersecurity, the majority of advanced opportunities for learning, networking, and thought leadership have traditionally occurred at in-person conferences—from participating in capture-the-flag competitions (CTFs) to conducting presentations to attending industry roundtables.

These events are absolutely not caregiver-friendly. At the last in-person conference I attended, there were no formal events for participants with children. Flights and hotels were so exorbitantly expensive I couldn’t imagine shelling out thousands of dollars to bring the kids.  And even if I did, there was no childcare provided or guidance for obtaining childcare in an unfamiliar city. (Amazingly, there was a breastfeeding booth placed near the room where I was scheduled to speak, but there was no fridge in which to store breast milk while attending talks.) I never saw a single baby. Babies at networking events would have been a major faux pas.  I couldn’t imagine walking around with one.”

What Sherri talks about in regard to the security industry is something I see over and over again when reading about diversity. The child care question.

Let me share another resource on the topic with you. In December, there was an episode of People I Mostly Admire with Claudia Goldin, where she talked about the concept of “Greedy work”.

The topic she was chatting about was the gender pay gap and how much child care contributes to it, and one of the reasons we have a gender pay cap, aside from the percentage that is discrimination, is that greedy work doesn’t account for child care, but it pays more. So in many families, they have to make a choice between less pay and the flexibility to share the child care equally. The economics of that don’t usually make sense, so one parent takes on the greedy work to maximize the family income while the other steps back to a more flexible role to provide the majority of child care. With social norms being what they are and the other issues contributing to a gender pay gap, that most often means the man in a heterosexual couple, so here we are with women being vastly underrepresented in these positions.

One of the solutions, of course, is for all of us to make it easier for those roles to be interchangeable. I suspect one easy thing we could do is to stop judging mothers and fathers by different standards. A man who takes on a greedy job for the sake of financially taking care of his family is no more a good father than a woman who does the same is a bad mother, and yet don’t many of us judge them exactly that way?

So yes, if we could figure out a way for men to take on more of the child care, we could open up more opportunities for women, but short of getting intimately involved in each household’s financial discussions, the larger question we can and should, be asking ourselves is why is it so expensive to seek out flexibility?

As Claudia points out, this issue goes beyond a gender pay gap because even in homosexual relationships with children, the same decisions must be made. To cover child care and not take an economic hit, one partner needs to take on a greedy job. There’s no gender pay gap there, but there is household inequality that comes into play.

The real question is, why are so many jobs “greedy” when they don’t necessarily need to be? Why do we put such a premium on these jobs? Why are the requirements for these jobs, including travel and being a recognized thought leader by speaking and presenting at in-person events, so demanding? Why do we pay less to people who try and have some kind of work-life balance instead of selling their souls for the job? Why does our industry give so much respect to the people who are free to meet these often ridiculous demands and not the equally talented people who are not free to do so because they have a life outside of work, including children?

Why can’t women bring a baby to a conference and walk around pushing a stroller? Who does it really harm? We’ve gotten used to seeing little ones and babies on Zoom calls, and we can get used to it in person too.


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