Working Women, Working Force

businesswomen working on laptopMen work. And so do women. So why do we talk about “working women” and not working men?

It’s not that there really are more working men than women. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics April 2010 report, women hold 49.8% (130.2 million) of the jobs in the U.S.  That’s about as close to a 50-50 workforce as possible.  The Labor Department further breaks it down. In 2008, 76% of unmarried mothers worked, as well as 69% of married mothers.  Only one in five households had a stay-at-home mom. A single mom heads up one in ten households and single women account for 27% of all households in the U.S.

For the first time in economic history, the male unemployment rate surpassed the female unemployment rate – and it just kept getting worse.  By December of ‘09, 10.2% of men were out of work, versus 8.2% of women.  During the worst of the job losses, male workers were handed 82% of the pink slips.

The workplace is changing, but perhaps our view of how women fit into the workplace hasn’t.  It’s time to re-evaluate what women are doing professionally and what that means to your business.

Consider the images of women in your advertising and branding messages.  Images of selling household products still focus mainly on women.  Some brands feature women in professional attire and no visible children.  In a recent Febreze ad, a female real estate agent uses the product to prepare a house for showing.  One possible interesting reason for limited images of women can be attributed to the fact that most ad agency creative departments are still largely run by men – 2.3 men to every 1 woman.  Of 58 Super Bowl spots, where creative could be identified, 92% of creative directors were white men, only 7% were white women.  There were no black creative directors.  The Latino was the winner of a contest for Doritos.

For working women, customer service and marketing are the same.  Once she acquires the product, she needs the services.  Consider a new approach that transcends the polarities of 1950’s housewife and suit power woman competing with a man.  It’s not about putting a pink bow on it, either.  Create modern woman archetypes.  Do you even know what those are?

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