Video: Dr. Claudia Goldin Talks Childcare and Greedy Jobs

Heather Foust-Cummings, Chief Research & Development Officer talks to lauded labor economist and 2023 winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, Dr. Claudia Goldin about her research and the significant impact childcare challenges have on women in the workplace. This interview was shared as part of the 2024 Catalyst Awards.

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00:00:04.135Every year businesses lose more than $12.7 billion due to childcare challenges. The lack of stability in childcare has an outsized impact on women. Catalyst found that in the United States,roughly four in 10 women, or 44% say they will likely need to change jobs to balance childcare with work demands compared to 37% of men.

We sat down with Dr. Claudia Goldin, who recently won the Swedish Central Bank Prize in economic sciences in memory of Alfred Nobel for her extensive research on women in the labor market. She is just the third woman to win the prize and the first to do so solo.

00:00:54.795Claudia, your work aligns directly with the Catalyst mission. Could you share how your research has followed the trajectory of women in the workplace?

00:01:04.545Uh, certainly in the 1970s. And what’s interesting is it aligns perfectly with when Catalyst began and the Catalyst mission. We had revolutionary change, and I call that the quiet revolution. And some of that was set in motion by the fact that women began to be able to do a much better job controlling their own fertility. And the marriage age rose by quite a bit, and we pivoted from addressing and helping individual women to really focusing on corporations and making workplaces more inclusive, recognizing organizations and companies that had successfully advanced women.

00:01:47.775Given the developments that we’re seeing in the labor force today, what is the work that we still need to do in order to achieve greater equity?

00:01:57.825So there’s work in terms of care. So what we realized, the other thing that we realized during the pandemic was that school isn’t just teaching children. It’s actually keeping children safe and allowing individuals, mainly their parents to be productive citizens and productive workers. And we realized the tremendous importance of care. Couples are always faced with the problem that if they have care responsibilities, and in general, couples with children have great care responsibilities, both members of the couple cannot take that greedy job. They can both take a flexible job. Mm-Hmm.

But the, to the extent that the greedy job is really greedy, it means that you’re leaving a fair amount of money on the table. Well, it turns out that by and large, uh, when couples give up couple equity and one takes the greedy job and one takes the flexible job, they generally also throw gender equality under the bus with it. Because in general, it’s the woman who takes the flexible job.

She, by the way, also has the joys of seeing her kids do things first and do many things that her husband, the father of the child, might not have the ability to, to see and partake in.

And so even in jobs in which wages are fixed equal for men and women, men make a lot more because they are able to take, even for lower income jobs, the greedier job, it means that couples different sex or same sex couples are no longer going to have to give up as much couple equity.And that’s important for everybody.

00:04:06.365I think it’s so telling, when you talk about the contributions that women make, you talk about the value of what women are providing in the home. It, it’s something that is, uh, a personal passion of mine, uh, in terms of really addressing the issues of of marginalized groups, particularly racially and ethnically marginalized groups. And so, um, I think as you tell your storyof the history of, of the women’s movement and, um, women in the United States, I look forward tothat aspect of the story.


Heather Foust-Cummings, PhD, is the passionate leader of Catalyst’s researchers, librarians, and fact-checkers who are experts and thought leaders on building workplaces that work for women. Before serving in this role, Heather researched topics such as women on boards, women in technology, inclusive workplace cultures and leadership, how men engage…

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