It's brought me great joy to see countless women overcome systemic gender bias and rise to positions of great leadership and influence. From women CEOs filling our tech industries to female politicians beginning to standardize ethics and morality in government -- we are witnessing a shift towards a more empathetic world with more women in positions of power. Alongside this positive social change, we also see huge shifts in our day-to-day working habits, given the global pandemic in 2020.
With a confluence of the feminist movement and changes in remote work acceptance, it may be time to harness the momentum and challenge more archaic systems that hold us back from performing at our best. Let's take the 5-day work week, for instance.
When this standard way of working was established at the turn of the 20th century, it wasn't taking many, if any, biological factors into account. Just google "Henry Ford 5 day work week" to wrap your head around the not-so-healthy rationale that landed us here. And yet, biology is a huge part of what determines how we humans perform at work and our personal lives.
Like women, men have hormonal cycles that dictate mood, productivity, and the overall state of mind. But instead of having a month-long hormonal cycle, a man experiences theirs, end-to-end, every day. This fundamental difference in our biology is what informed the pre-feminist set-up for our work weeks, given the majority of our workforce during this time was indeed men. But as previously stated, this has changed dramatically in recent decades.
So what does leaning into biology look like in the context of our working hour reality?
Let's start talking about a 3-week work cycle with 1 week off. Let's start using social and biological science vs. corporate profit optimization to re-establish work time. At the very least, let's start having more intimate conversations with our workforces to gather signals around when they're at their best and adjust to meet them where they are.