Why you should re-think being the office “housewife”

Did you “volunteer” to plan the office Holiday party?

Were you “volun-told” to take meeting minutes–even though it’s not in the scope of your job?

Did you fill in for a colleague when she was out on maternity leave?

Do you serve on a low-ranking committee (that isn’t even of interest to you) because someone on your team needed to do it?

The Harvard Business Review calls these “non-promotable tasks”. These jobs benefit the organization but likely don’t contribute to someone’s performance evaluation and career advancement.

I have been that girl. And I am just going to guess…maybe you have too?

Researchers found that this reluctant volunteer is more likely to be female than male. Across field & laboratory studies, they found that women volunteer for these “non-promotable” tasks more than men; that women are more frequently asked to take such tasks on; & that when asked, they are more likely to say yes. The study found that this can have serious consequences for women. If we are disproportionately saddled with work that has little visibility or impact, it will take us much longer to advance in our careers.

Let me stress– the point of my post is NOT to say “don’t volunteer” for additional responsibilities.  However, I am stressing the importance of selective-volunteering.  I really want to encourage you to read the article– male or female.  My husband read it and his take-away was that he needed to help his female colleagues out by volunteering to (example) order the flowers for the office manager and collect money.  It’s time consuming and a non-promotable task but one that’s important and needs to be done. 


Link to the comments on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6440535036864405504


  • Sarah Johnston

    I’m a former corporate recruiter and industry “insider” who got tired of seeing talented high-achievers get passed over for opportunities because they did not have the right marketing documents or know how to position themselves in interviews. I have relocated multiple times across the country as a “trailing spouse” and have had to execute job searches in completely cold markets (where I literally knew no one!) I have been named a LinkedIn Top Voice in the career space in 2019, HR Weekly’s Top 100 Most Influential People in HR, named the owner of the “best resume writing firm for experienced executives” by Balance Careers and a “top follow” by JobScan in 2019 and 2020.

Sarah Johnston

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