One Way Women Make Superior Workers

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women new skills at workBy Stephanie Gaspary, director of social strategy and creative services, CareerBuilder

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' data book on women in the labor force, women have made significant progress in the areas of educational achievement and earnings over the past 40 years. Labor-force participation is significantly higher among women today than it was in the 1970s, but it seems to have peaked at 60 percent in 1999. By 2011, 58.1 percent of women were in the labor force, down 0.5 percentage point from 2010.

While there are a variety of reasons women may be exiting the workforce, the economic benefits to promote female employment are clear. According to a recent paper by management consultants Booz & Co. titled, "Empowering the Third Billion: Women and the World of Work in 2012," "If female employment rates were to match male rates in the United States, overall GDP would increase by 5 percent."

Employers can help to stop this decline by stepping up their efforts to recruit women -- and that means understanding how women search for jobs and what they look for in potential employers.

Recent CareerBuilder research shows women are more willing than men to learn new skills outside of the scope of their current position -- 68 percent versus 63 percent. Attracting more female workers could be as easy as highlighting your organization's training and retraining programs. This finding also indicates an opportunity for employers to keep current employees by providing more training and development opportunities for them.

Additional tips for attracting and retaining female workers:
  • Implement practices that reduce conflicts between work and family demands, such as flexible work schedules, access to day care and a "results-only work environment."
  • Change the way jobs are structured and described and the way roles and behaviors are enacted to make them gender-neutral. Jobs should de-emphasize masculine and feminine stereotypical attributes. Application and hiring information should be gender-neutral.
  • Make it easier for women to work in male-dominated companies or industries by adapting working styles to allow all employees to accommodate family demands.

Stephanie Gaspary is the director of social strategy and creative services at CareerBuilder.
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