Inflexible Schedules Can Keep Women From Working—This Job Site Aims to Change That

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It’s clear that gender inequality is an issue in the workforce, but figuring out how to best eliminate it isn’t always so straightforward. According to one study released last year, the gender pay gap starts to grow significantly wider once women hit age 32. The reason? Shouldering the majority of the child-rearing responsibilities makes it a lot harder for women to hold nine-to-five jobs. A new job search website aims to combat this by only highlighting positions that offer flexible schedules.

Werk is the brainchild of former consultant Anna Auerbach and veteran law attorney Annie Dean. Dean became aware of a need for this type of service after becoming a parent herself: "I was sitting at my desk at my law firm, feeling completely exhausted and utterly defeated," she tells mental_floss. "I was in the middle of an intense deal and there just weren’t enough hours in the day for what I was responsible for."

Auerbach, a former refugee and a mother of one, noticed the same issue. "Everywhere I looked, women were being told to work harder, to speak louder, to negotiate more. But nothing was attempting to answer the question of, 'How do we keep talented women in the workforce?' It was then I knew something fundamental had to change," she says.

Like competing job search sites Monster, LinkedIn, and Indeed, Werk provides a way for job-seekers to search for openings online. What sets Werk apart is the quality of the listings—every position that’s posted offers pre-negotiated flexibility. Users can sort jobs based on the ability to work remotely, work part-time, work unconventional hours, or tweak their schedules with little notice to keep up with the unpredictable demands of caring for dependents.

It’s easy to see how this might appeal to a certain type of worker: Thirty percent of women with bachelor’s degrees drop out of the workforce when they have a child, while 19 percent of women with a master’s degree or higher and 26 percent of women with less than a bachelor’s degree do the same. But Werk emphasizes that their mission can benefit employers as well. According to Auerbach and Dean, employees with flexibility tend to be happier at work and more likely to stay. They also cite a study by McKinsey & Company that found gender-diverse companies are more likely to outperform their peers.

Werk has already attracted some big-name companies, featuring listings at companies like Facebook, Uber, and Samsung. A membership to use the job search tool costs $48 a year, which may be well worth it to caregiving professionals of any gender looking to take control of their schedules. As Dean says, "Our generation has the ability to say what works and what doesn’t, and we have a responsibility to act on it.”