Women in Business: He Said, 'Stay Home and Do YOUR Job'; She Said …

Published February 07, 2007

| FoxNews.com

Here is an e-mail that got me thinking about what women bring to the economic table and who should decide a "woman's place." The writer included his name, but I'll be nice and just call him "Mr. Know-It-All."

Dear Megan,

I can't believe that you will be having a regular column on FOXNews.com about women in the work force. I could give advice in one sentence "Stay at home, and do YOUR job." It's because of women that had to be so independent that lead to price inflation, forcing couples that wouldn't usually have the wife working too, have the wife work a full time job. We are living in a time where a family can't live on one income any more, which leads to the second problem. Day cares are raising our children, and we wonder why the last two generations went to hell in a hand basket. So back to my point, women need to stay home and take care of the house. I think that if enough families keep the wife home eventually we will be able to go back to one-income households.

I know your stupid article is going to fail, and here is why. Women aren't into business. Their brains don't work that way. Sure there will always be a few exceptions to the rule, but over all most business women just float along snapping at their male co-workers because they forever fear for their job. Women managers are the worst thing a company can have. I do know, because I have worked in Human Resources for over ten years. In my experience 9 times out of 10 any office drama is female related. So instead of wasting time on your dumb ass article you should go home and take care of your family.

Sincerely,

[Mr. Know-It-All]

Portland, OR

Editor's note: Mr. Know-It-All's letter was not edited, except to omit his name.

Career. Family. Some contend that for women, the two are like oil and water. Translation: Don’t mix them. Can women have it all?

I believe (as countless women have already proven true) that in this "country of opportunity" a woman can have it all if she’s willing to work hard enough. And I use the word "all" to mean every individual woman’s goals –- there is no universal set of priorities.

According to Mr. Know-It-All’s logic, "women need to stay home and take care of the house." Imagine if this were the law of this land and little American girls were taught growing up that they were destined to, as Mr. Know-It-All says, "stay home and do YOUR job."

This would deny females one of the most precious gifts guaranteed to all citizens of a free country — the right to have a dream. I am not saying one dream is right for all; I am saying all have a right to have one dream and, yes, Mr. Know-It-All, this even includes women.

Beyond just the right to dream, we all deserve the right to work to survive, if nothing else. Take that away and any single or widowed female (and any children they might have) becomes a starving and cold burden of the government.

There are plenty of women too busy working to pay the bills to even think about their dreams. They don’t work because they want to, or work because they wish to rebel against Mr. Know-It-All’s economic theories. Instead, they work because they HAVE to.

One of my favorite inspirational stories is that of Vanguard mutual group founder, John Bogle. His tale offers great advice on why it is beneficial to work and work hard. Bogle, born into wealth, later found himself with a dried-up well. But he knew the benefits of having money, so he went to work and the rest is his story of rags-back-to-riches success.

Before I break out the statistics and examples of what women workers have and continue to add to the U.S. country and the world stage, I’d like to highlight my respect and appreciation for women who work around the clock in what can be considered one of the most important jobs of all time: the full-time mom.

If one parent is winning enough bread that the other can stay home during the early child-rearing years, then it’s a no-brainer. Go for it. In my opinion, that’s a win-win situation, with the children as the ultimate victors.

But the reality is child-raising brings with it much more than a diaper bag's worth of financial obligations and responsibilities. And often, these obligations are too much to be carried by one parent. Under current economic conditions [that allow moms to pitch in to support their family], many children are still growing up in poverty, which already leads us to a lose-lose-lose situation.

Victims of Poverty: Children, Public Safety, the Economy

A new study commissioned by the Center for American Progress says children who grow up poor in the United States cost the economy $500 billion a year because they are less productive, earn less money, commit more crimes and have more health-related expenses.

And this is without Mr. Know-It-All’s boo-boo economic plan (meaning two thumbs way down) in the equation. The cost could go nowhere but up if all working moms, whether single or married, were given a permanent pink slip.

What Women Workers Bring to the Table

Add "Average Joe Investor" to the list of potential losers in a Mr. Know-It-All World, which would mean many of you reading this column would suffer. An exodus of the female working class could have stark negative repercussions on Wall Street, and possibly your portfolio, according to one expert.

"Clearly, female participation in the labor force has increased the economic potential of the country," said Keith Hembre, chief economist and head of quantitative analysis at First American Funds.

"A drop in the female labor force participation rate would lower potential GDP and corporate earnings growth potential ... [it] would lower potential returns from the domestic financial markets."

And here’s more evidence that women’s presence in the corporate world is, quite frankly, profitable.

A Catalyst survey of Fortune 500 companies (which I also referenced in another recent column) found that companies with the highest representation of women in their top management teams experienced better financial performance than companies with the lowest women’s representation. The finding holds for both Return on Equity, which was 35 percent higher, and Total Return to Shareholders, which was 34 percent higher.

An April 2006 article in The Economist details the economic power of women, saying, "to an economist, women … are the world’s most under-utilized resource; getting more of them into work is part of the solution to many economic woes."

A similar article in October’s Financial Times offers another benefit women bring to the workfield: "Bosses know full well that a team of both men and women is more creative and efficient than one comprised of only men."

One could fill a library or two with books on influential women and their accomplishments throughout history. I'm too busy working at the moment to list them ALL, so I'll leave you with one symbol from history that reminds us why you should never underestimate the business production power of a female, because one day, you might need to depend on it.

"Rosie the Riveter" was the symbol for women workers during World War II. As enlisted American men went off to save the world, women rolled up their sleeves and did their part to keep the economy back home from falling apart.

During the war years, women became streetcar conductors, taxicab drivers, business managers, commercial airline checkers, aerodynamic engineers and railroad workers. Women operated machinery, streetcars, buses, cranes and tractors.

They unloaded freight, built dirigibles and gliders, worked in lumber mills and steel mills, as well as made munitions. In essence, women occupied almost every aspect of industry, a fact confirmed on the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration’s Web site.

All things considered, one thing is very clear: Women are capable of being masterful multitaskers, which might cheer you up, Mr. Know-It-All. I may work five days a week but that doesn’t keep me from cooking and cleaning. Some of us choose to do it all while we are working on the path toward "having it all."

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"Minding Her Business" is a column that covers issues affecting women in business and in the workplace. Female professionals (and male, too, if they wish) can use this resource to network, ask questions, receive and offer advice, share personal experiences … and you don’t ever have to leave your office. Just e-mail herbusiness@foxnews.com. E-mails are subject to editing for length and content.

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