Does working from home create ‘equal playing field’ for white-collar moms?

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COLONIE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Many parents continue to work remotely away from the office. But working from home may actually help some moms advance in their careers.

When the pandemic first hit New York, attorney and mom Jennifer Corcoran was forced to make some big changes.

The partner at Tully Rinckey in Colonie had to work from home. And with a young son, it came with some challenges.

“Seeing Mommy 6 feet away, ‘Can’t you play? Can’t we go for a walk?’ You know, to have to say, ‘No buddy, Mommy needs to work.’ I actually got to the point in early June when I said, ‘You know, I really need to be in the office.'”

But for some moms having to work from home during the pandemic might actually help advance their careers, at least according to Timothy Golden. He’s a professor in the Lally School of Management at RPI and a leading expert in the field of telecommuting.

“It used to be that working from home had a stigma to it. Perhaps a young mother with children who chose to work from home.”

Golden points to the fact that societal pressures have typically stunted the careers of working moms, especially white-collar employees who have to make difficult choices between work and home life, women who had to choose jobs with fewer responsibilities or opportunities for advancement.

But COVID-19 has made working from home more acceptable for women and men, as well as their employers.

How will this help women advance in their careers directly?

“A woman can compete with a man as equally as if they were in the office and as equally if they did or did not have family care responsibilities,” Golden says. “So that is really good news for women.”

Golden says he feels the equality will also have a positive effect on women who work outside of white collar professions.

As for Jennifer, she is now back at the office. What is her take on Professor Golden’s findings?

“At the end of the day, I think it really depends upon the employee. I think it would be a great opportunity for women to go up the rungs of the ladder.” But she also added: “I think there are also going to be some employers who think, ‘You know, we are doing something special for you.’ And that, unfortunately, leads to a ‘less-than’ employee, even if that’s not true.”


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