Another Reason To Pay Women Less
Women are naturally problematic and more likely to care for another's needs.
In another era, the task of caring for elderly parents often fell to the unmarried daughter who never left home and never worked for a living. But now, in a 21st-century twist on the 19th-century spinster, career women like Ms. Geist who have made their mark in the world are returning home to care for parents in old age.
They are embracing a filial role that few could have imagined in their futures and are doing so by choice. In fact, sociologists are beginning to give the phenomenon a name: the Daughter Track, a late-in-life version of the Mommy Track, a career downsizing popular with younger women.
Increasingly, employers are recognizing this burden.
"Smart corporations are paying attention" to the challenges that caring for elderly parents presents, said Meryle Mahrer-Kaplan, vice president of advisory services at Catalyst, which has more than 300 corporate members interested in the issues of women in the workplace. "It's so pressing because you can't plan for it, you can't put it off, and it's not a good-news activity. It weighs people down."
Despite a growing number of men helping aging relatives, women account for 71 percent of those devoting 40 or more hours a week to the task, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP in a 2004 study. Among those with the greatest burden of care, regardless of sex, 88 percent either take leaves of absence, quit or retire.