The return to office doesn’t have to unravel the gains made by women and caregivers in the workforce, says the Harvard University economics professor
Nobel Prize winner Claudia Goldin has some words of advice for America’s companies: stay flexible. The return to office doesn’t have to unravel the gains made by women and caregivers in the workforce, the Harvard University economics professor said in an interview.
Many firms are still offering hybrid schedules — where employees can work remotely some days — and there’s less demand for business travel, said Goldin, who this week became only the third woman to ever win the top prize in economics. “Now that we’re sort of cutting back on that travel, it’s going to make what I call greedy jobs more flexible,” she said, referring to positions with higher pay and broader responsibility but more demands on time. “At the same time we have flexible jobs that are becoming more productive.”
“It just depends upon what firms are doing,” Goldin said. “At the same time, even though they’re calling people back into the office, they’re not necessarily saying that business travel is going to be the same as it once was.”
Goldin won the Nobel Prize in economics for her research on women in the workforce, including the factors behind the pay and employment gaps between men and women. She found that while the gap could be explained in the past due to education and occupation differences, the current disparity is happening for men and women in the same roles.
She urged expanding public support for both elder and child care, and she suggested that pre-school and daycare programs be folded into the public education system. “I would want policymakers to take away from my body of work that the cost of care is extremely important,” she said. “But until the polity is interested, until we can get everyone on board, we’re not going to get policymakers to respond as much.”
Goldin advised parents to strive for equity in their relationship. “With more couple equity there will be more gender equality,” she said. “That’s an easy thing to say and a very hard thing to do.”