INTERVIEW WITH AN EXPERT
A Q&A with Dr. Alice Waagen and Recruiter Paige Rhodes
How — and why — we’ve come a long way, baby
“Ladies, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise — we’ve come a long way and at this point, there is nothing standing in your way,” says recruiter Paige Rhodes of the DC firm Rhodes & Weinstock. “Forget the glass ceiling — the sky is the limit.”
I couldn’t agree more. See my Q&A with Paige below.
Alice Waagen: Does June Cleaver still exist?
Paige Rhodes: Yes, June Cleaver may still exist, and that role model is great for those who choose to follow it. But from my experience placing women in positions from CEO and chief financial officer to president of the board, I’m here to tell you that opportunities abound for smart, driven women.
- Data released last week by the Labor Department show that for the first time in history, women outnumber men in the workforce. As the job market stabilizes, older, experienced women appear to be on track to be the first hired back.
- New data shows women-owned businesses will create up to 5.5 million jobs by 2018, more than half the number of jobs expected to be created by all small businesses in that time. The research cites the customer focus of many businesses led by women as well as the sense of community and ability to help others succeed.
- About 10 percent of the people on the Forbes 400 richest people in America are women.
Alice Waagen: Since we’re talking about historic female icons of the past, would you say that Rosie the Riveter paved the way for women to play a bigger role in today’s workforce?
Paige Rhodes: Most definitely. During World War II, Rosie the Riveter introduced females into the traditionally male workforce of the factories. In the ‘70s, well-known women fought for female rights. The proportion of women receiving four-year college degrees has been steadily increasing since the 1950s, overtaking the percentage of male graduates by the 1980s.
Among African Americans, women college graduates outnumber their male counterparts by almost two to one; among Hispanic Americans, the percentage is even greater. Women have also overtaken men in the percentage of master’s degrees awarded. In 1997, women received approximately 40 percent of all law and medical degrees earned.
And as more and more women are entering the skilled professional workforce, the Internet revolution has broken the “Old Boy’s Network” approach to doing business.
Alice Waagen: What role do you think the Internet is playing in this shift?
Paige Rhodes: One pivotal shift is that people can comparison shop for products and services quickly and easily. Your online identity is not tied so much to who you are as it is to what you can do — so you no longer have to belong to the country club to get the attention of a prospective client or employer. You can compete based on merits, and not just based on whom you know.
Alice Waagen: Has this also made an impact on how companies look for new employees?
Paige Rhodes: Most definitely. A manager just needs to do a few minutes of research on the Internet, and they can get all the info they need about a company and the positions they’re hiring for, without ever making a phone call or setting up a face-to-face meeting.
And, if you happen to have the qualifications they’re looking for and you’re interested in applying for the position, most companies now accept online applications.
Some may argue that it has gone from a “women can’t do this job” environment to a “we need more women” environment. Stay-at-home dads are becoming more frequent, and magazines like Working Mother specifically focus on the demands put on females who choose to take on both roles of “mother” and “business person.”
So whether you are a female already in the workforce and contemplating a career change, or a woman just entering the workforce (again, perhaps), my advice is this: Set your goals high, and don’t accept anything less. The opportunities are there; you just have to go out and get them.
Alice Waagen: Thank you, Paige. Your thoughts are informative and inspiring. I’ll look forward to talking to you again.
About Paige Rhodes
Prior to co-founding Rhodes & Weinstock in 2009, Paige Rhodes spent more than 15 years in staffing, human resources and law-firm management.
Throughout her career, she gained an intricate knowledge of the temporary, temp-to-hire and direct placement services. In addition to her staffing industry experience, Paige also spent several years in human resources, and as an HR manager at two large law firms in the DC metropolitan area.
The combination of in-house and outplacement recruiting experience gives her a unique understanding of the hiring needs and concerns of her clients, from large multinational corporations to small start-ups.