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Has Remote Work Eliminated the “Motherhood Penalty?” 

In 2014, thinktank Third Way reported that the typical mother saw her earning power drop by four percent for each child she had. In contrast, men saw their incomes rise by six percent upon becoming fathers. Not altogether surprising, considering the “invisibility” of women during maternity leave and the fact that the cost of daycare prevented many women from returning to work after giving birth. 

But that was 2014. The advent of videoconferencing and messaging tools — combined with a pandemic that kept both male and female office workers at home — must have eliminated the disparities between the genders, right? Nope. 

A Delloite report published in April of this year found that hybrid and remote work have hurt women in more ways than one. Responsibility for homeschooling during the pandemic fell disproportionately onto women’s shoulders. Female respondents reported feeling excluded from important meetings. Forty-seven percent reported they didn’t have enough contact with leaders — a crucial component of sponsorship and career progression. Some studies have even shown that holding meetings via video increased the likelihood of women being interrupted or talked over. 

Remote work has also blurred the boundary between home and office hours, forcing moms to respond to messages or take meetings during homework or dinner time. The time that would have been spent commuting suddenly translated into extra work hours.

While studies have demonstrated that employees who work at home are more productive, they’ve also shown that remote work may lead to a loss of creativity and collaboration, since employees who work at home are less likely to communicate with one another. There’s no communal kitchen or water cooler. You can’t stop by someone’s desk to exchange ideas. Sure, you can communicate via instant messenger apps like Slack, and via email or videoconferencing. But these methods are less spontaneous and less personal. Messaging apps and email are asynchronous, meaning that they don’t happen in real time. And traditional video conferencing is a one-way form of communication, allowing only one presenter to share information, while a passive audience looks on. 

The combination of all of these factors may mean that the “motherhood penalty” has, in many ways, been compounded by the pandemic’s normalization of remote and hybrid work. 

The good news is that hope may lie in newer technologies, such as Alleo

Not only does Alleo allow you to see multiple pieces of mixed-media content (documents, video, sticky notes, participants’ faces, presentations, and more) onscreen at once, it also democratizes communication — giving women a better opportunity to be heard and be seen. It provides the ability to be more interactive in visual ways, so everyone can participate equally (via onscreen annotation, polls, emojis, and more) without having to interrupt the speaker or being talked over. It allows a gallery view of participants while a presenter is sharing a PowerPoint. You can chat with other participants or insert a comment in real time without interrupting the speaker. You can listen, participate, and be present during the meeting itself. 

And the content can be retained after the meeting is over, so no one has to take copious notes or go back to a recording of the video to retrieve information.

If you imagine Zoom blended with Miro, Slack, email, a whiteboard, a polling application, and SMS messages all together in real time — without switching applications — you will start to get an idea of what Alleo is like. Now imagine how that might improve your meetings. Your training programs. A global graphics team’s design experience. No need to talk over each other (just insert a comment or a sticky note). No worries about missing something because of a crying child, because the content is persistent. No bored employees falling asleep during one-way presentations. What’s more, you can have multiple Alleo boards/spaces, so you can use one for your executive meetings, another for design brainstorms, and yet another for one-on-ones with your manager.

The bottom line is that Alleo is the closest you can get to an inclusive, productive, collaborative experience, even from home. It is the ultimate equalizer…and maybe even the beginning of an era when the “motherhood penalty” will be eliminated once and for all. 

Ready to learn more? Schedule a demo today and find out how Alleo can bring your teams together — even when they’re physically apart.

Author

Megan Van Zutphen

Megan Van Zutphen

COO of Alleo