WBUR aired a fantastic interview yesterday with the Wall Street Journal‘s Katherine Rosman, Naomi Baron, author of Always On, and Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet and American Life Project. The topic? The changing nature of our communication.

The way we communicate with each other today has dramatically changed. Based on Katherine’s recent findings as reported in the Wall Street Journal, 13-17 years old send an average of 3339 text messages a month. Even in the 45-54 year old demographic, texting is up 75% (to an average of 300 per month).

At the outset of the interview, Katherine rightly points to the reasons behind people’s unwillingness to actually talk on the phone:

“People don’t want to be on the phone when, heaven forbid, they might actually get stuck in a conversation that goes beyond what they originally intended. They don’t want small talk. They just want to get and receive the data they need and go about their multitasking, distracted days.”

Wow. And so true.

For anyone who’s been face to face with a text-messaging pal, it can feel pretty isolating.

Naomi Baron, whom I interviewed a while ago here, addressed the loss of people’s attention today. Calling in from Copenhagen, she stated:

“We no longer notice that we’re not as engaged as we could be if we were just listening to the other person. Voice-to-voice on the phone. Voice-to-voice, face-to-face.”

Are we losing our ability to actually interact with other people on a personal level? I’m wondering if we are.

Lee Rainie summarized the conversation beautifully when he suggested how “we are rearranging the landscape of communication…we are reallocating our communications patterns.”

In response to a private conversation my PR colleagues and I were having about this topic (yes, via email!) , Herdon, VA-based PR professional Diane Johnson said, “We’re cultivating a culture of mushroom people who want to sit in front of their computer or on their PDAs and believe using their fingers (while keeping them off each other) counts as human interaction.”

As parents, we must teach our children etiquette and Net’iquette so our ability to communicate not just words, but their meaning, too, is not lost in our collective digital distraction.

Enhanced by Zemanta

American families are undergoing a sea change as we rethink who works, who stays home to care for the kids and why we work. This power of slow reexamination of how we live comes at a time when women make up more than half of the people on American payrolls for the first time in our history, with moms the primary breadwinner in almost 40 percent of all families.

To understand how working moms see their shifting roles and how others see them, Working Mother magazine surveyed more than 4,600 people across the country, including working moms, stay-at-home moms, working dads and singles in the workplace. Among our findings: whether making $20,000 or $200,000, moms who view their jobs as a career—rather than just a paycheck—are more satisfied and feel more positive at work and at home. “What Moms Think: The Working Mother Report” offers surprising insights into the perceptions of both sexes.

“I meet women all the time who think of their jobs as careers, and it doesn’t matter if they’re answering phones in a call center or running a company,” said Carol Evans, President, Working Mother Media. “This research reveals that women who embrace the long-term commitment that a career implies feel more satisfied and positive about every marker that we measured, including being ‘in balance.’ These findings have huge implications for women and the companies who rely on them.”

Among the report’s top findings:

·         Moms who view their work as a career are happier in all aspects the survey measured—with their marriage, kids, friendships, salary, respect they command and choice to work—than women who work primarily for a paycheck;

·         Male managers are big supporters of working moms in the workplace (at least in the United States ~ Germany has a way to go on this aspect of working life);

·         Though moms value flex as a key benefit, men are more likely than women to have jobs that allow for flexibility;

·         Both men and women feel a deep ambivalence when wives out-earn their husbands (this substantiates the claim the Pew Research Center found in a January 2010 study about women outearning their husbands, as reported in the Washington Post).

What contributes to a woman labeling her work as a career versus a paycheck? It’s not her salary. What a power of slow idea! It has nothing, or less, to do with money.

 

Courtesy of Working Mother magazine and "What Moms Think: The Working Mother Report"

 

According to The Working Mother Report, women feel they have a career when they:

  • Have opportunities to develop skills and advance;
  • Feel supported and respected;
  • Believe their work fulfills a higher purpose than simply making money.

“The most exciting aspect of The Working Mother Report is how actionable this is,” Evans said. “Women can examine their attitudes and shift toward careerist thinking. Companies can support women in viewing their jobs as careers with training and advancement programs.”

The Working Mother Report coincides with the 25th anniversary of Working Mother 100 Best Companies. It was sponsored by three of the Working Mother 100 Best Companies—Ernst & Young, IBM and Procter & Gamble.

The Importance of a “Career”

Women who identify themselves as having a career are more likely than those who self-identify as working primarily for a paycheck to say that:

  • Their life is ‘in balance’; they are healthy and fulfilled;
  • They are supported in work responsibilities and respected at home;
  • Their spouses contribute more to caring for children and to at-home tasks;
  • Their work fulfills a higher or more meaningful purpose than ‘just making money.’

How Male Managers View Working Moms

The Working Mother Report reveals that male managers view working mothers highly favorably, seeing them in a better light than do working fathers and men without children. Male managers say that working moms are likely to:

  • Take on additional work;
  • Be committed to career advancement;
  • Travel for work;
  • Take stretch assignments;
  • Relocate.

“Male managers—regardless of whether they have kids themselves—are strong allies of working moms. They see how dedicated these women are to their careers,” said Suzanne Riss, Editor in Chief, Working Mother magazine. “Managers praise working moms for the quality of their work, their interest in advancing, and their willingness to take on extra work.”

Flexibility: Not Just for Working Moms Anymore

The moms surveyed said that a flexible schedule is trumped only by stability and security when they look for a new job. Yet The Working Mother Report revealed that men are more likely to have jobs that allow for flexibility, more likely to use flex without fear of retribution, and that they feel they can take time off when necessary.

Among those whose work does allow for flexibility, there is a large gap in the percentage of women (58%) and men (74%) who say flexibility has had a positive impact on their career advancement.  Working mothers are more likely than working fathers to say:

  • Part-time work is a viable option at their company (65% vs. 58% for fathers);
  • They would work part time if they could still have a meaningful career (70% vs. 63% for fathers);
  • Flexibility increases their commitment or loyalty to their organization (77% vs. 73% for fathers).

Mars vs. Venus

Women who earn more than their husbands are more likely to expect men to contribute to cooking, cleaning and caring for the kids (um, I kind of expect my husband to contribute no matter what his paycheck):

  • Women surveyed were significantly more likely than men to say that domestic chores should be split down the middle (92%). But fewer than half say their spouses do their fair share. Men, in contrast, reported that they feel they are doing their fair share (68%).

The Working Mother Report revealed a deep ambivalence among both men and women about women earning more.

  • When asked in theory about the idea of their spouse out-earning them, 73% of women and 59% of men said they were comfortable with the idea of their partner earning more.
  • When women actually are the breadwinners, the comfort level drops for men from 59% to 42%.

Read the full report, What Moms Think: The Working Mother Report.

Enhanced by Zemanta