The no club: Putting a stop to women’s dead-end work
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Brought to you by the ASBMB Women in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (WiBMB) Committee
In their recent book, Linda Babcock, Brenda Peyser, Lise Vesterlund and Laurie Weingart reveal that — across industries, jobs, and levels of seniority — women carry a heavier load of tasks that support the organization but do not advance careers. These nonpromotable tasks (or NPTs) range from taking notes at meetings and organizing team-building events to serving on organizational governance committees and onboarding new employees. When women are overloaded with NPTs they have less time to do the work that matters and end up having to work more hours to avoid falling behind their colleagues who are men. This is bad for women’s careers and bad for their organizations.
In this discussion, we explore why this happens and what you can do to manage your NPT workload. The common thinking is that women just need to learn how to say no, and this will solve the problem. But it’s not that simple. We discuss tried and true strategies that you can use to identify NPTs in your work portfolio and begin the process of bringing your workload into balance, as well as what managers can do to change the distribution of NPTs in the first place.
Carnegie Mellon University
Patricia Kane–Popp, Moderator
SUNY Upstate Medical University
- Nonpromotable tasks encompass a broad range of work activities that are often invisible and unrewarded but remain critical to organizational functioning.
- Women perform more nonpromotable tasks than their colleagues who are men because we expect them to — not because they are naturally better at them or because they want to do them — and this holds back their careers and is costly to their organizations.
- Women (and others who find themselves in this situation) can navigate the situation by assessing their work in terms of its promotability and work with their managers to balance their portfolio of promotable and nonpromotable tasks.
Who should watch
- Women of all career stages in STEM.
- Anyone who wishes to be an ally to women in STEM.
- People who are interested in promoting gender equity in the workplace.
- People who are interested in optimal workplace management — come and learn with us!
- Women who are interested in strategies for their own professional development either in the academy or in biotech and pharma.