Volunteer @ Work: What Is It Good For?
l office “housework,”
such as organizing a holiday party, as well as a much wider set of tasks, such as filling in for a colleague, serving on a low-ranking committee, or taking on routine work that doesn’t require much skill or produce much impact.
Decision Experiment: If someone volunteered, that person received $1.25, while the two other group members each received $2. So every group member was better off if someone volunteered, but the volunteer benefited less. Women were 48% more likely to volunteer than men, and this difference was seen in all 10 rounds of the experiment. Is it because women are more altruistic?
In academia, a survey of 48 Carnegie Mellon faculty, 90% agreed that an assistant professor has a higher chance of promotion if they allocate spare time to research rather than to committee work. That being said, in our institutions, academics (n=3,271) were asked to volunteer for a faculty senate committee, only 3.7% chose to do so — but 7% of women volunteered, compared with 2.6% of men.
In a mixed-sex group, men will hold back on volunteering while women in turn will volunteer to ensure that the task is done. But in single-sex groups, this changes — men and women volunteer equally. In these groups men know they have to step forward if they want to find a volunteer, and women expect other women to volunteer, making them less compelled to do so themselves.
That being said, how might you distribute tasks more evenly at work, on your team, or in your organization?
The difficulty is that we can’t just talk about it, there is no toolkit or one time solution. This topic to discuss the needs to be a continuous learning experience, self-evaluation, and necessary conversation.
References from this #InVinoFab podcast:
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The #InVinoFab Podcast uncorks to share stories about women+, wine, and work through personal stories. In Vino Fabulum, means: In Wine, Story! Co-hosts @ProfPatrice & @LauraPasquini bring different voices and ideas to the pod to challenge, learn, and engage listeners for issues and ideas impacting women in their communities and at work. These narrative episodes are delightfully paired with interesting projects, workplace experiences, helpful learning anecdotes, and creative discoveries for how women live today. Listen to the podcast and join the conversation at @InVinoFab (Instagram & Twitter).