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The opt-out revolution in the United States: implications for modern organizations

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  • Mary C. Still

    (University of California Hastings College of the Law, San Francisco, CA, USA)

Abstract

For the first time since American women joined the labor force in the 1970s, the number of working mothers has decreased. Dubbed the 'opt-out revolution' by The New York Times, the so-called exodus has left companies confused, social conservatives jubilant and feminists incensed. This article explores the reasons for women's workforce departure and argues that it is a predictable result of organizations' failure to understand differences between male and female workers, an ignorance that leads to flawed incentive structures which eventually drive women out of the workplace. I discuss three of the most problematic assumptions made by organizations: (1) men and women are motivated by the same things; (2) managers determine promotion and pay on merit; and (3) implementing policies designed for women, such as family-friendly benefits, will solve retention problems. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Mary C. Still, 2006. "The opt-out revolution in the United States: implications for modern organizations," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(2-3), pages 159-171.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:mgtdec:v:27:y:2006:i:2-3:p:159-171
    DOI: 10.1002/mde.1290
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Shelly Lundberg & Elaina Rose, 1998. "The Determinants of Specialization Within Marriage," Discussion Papers in Economics at the University of Washington 0048, Department of Economics at the University of Washington.
    2. Heather Boushey, 2005. "Are Women Opting Out? Debunking the Myth," CEPR Reports and Issue Briefs 2005-36, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).
    3. Kanazawa, Satoshi, 2005. "Is "discrimination" necessary to explain the sex gap in earnings?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 269-287, April.
    4. Wood, Robert G & Corcoran, Mary E & Courant, Paul N, 1993. "Pay Differences among the Highly Paid: The Male-Female Earnings Gap in Lawyers' Salaries," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(3), pages 417-441, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lucia Ciciolla & Alexandra S. Curlee & Suniya S. Luthar, 2017. "What Women Want: Employment Preference and Adjustment Among Mothers," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 38(4), pages 494-513, December.
    2. Scott Hall & Shelley MacDermid, 2009. "A Typology of Dual Earner Marriages Based on Work and Family Arrangements," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 30(3), pages 215-225, September.
    3. Kevin Kniffin, 2009. "Evolutionary perspectives on salary dispersion within firms," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 23-42, April.

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