Apr 24, 201309:05 AMIn Her View
Business Insights & Inspiration
Smaller Cities Should Learn Bars
In 2007, studies appeared that demonstrated a growing pay gap – in women’s favor – between professional men and women in major urban cities such as New York City, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Economists found it “striking” that college-educated women in their 20’s were outearning men in major cities, even as the gaps were getting worse in other cities for college-educated women.
I’m shocked that the researchers are shocked. Having lived in Chicago and New York City, I already find myself teaching my daughters how to ride subways and hail taxis in preparation for their future professional lives in a very large metropolitan area. And they’re only in grade school!
Smaller cities are always fretting about how to attract young talent, with community leaders debating about jobs, tax breaks, education, and transportation. They will spend countless hours figuring out how to convince others that their city is a good place to “raise a family,” wondering how to attract young educated people. Regional publications, local politicians, and consultants will distribute and analyze surveys to determine whether a professional football team will provide new hope.
I suggest that the researchers skip the surveys, try to find some flat-front pants, and visit a bar where both young men and women are wearing skinny jeans. They might need to travel downtown and stay up past bedtime, but that’s the point. All they will miss is an 8:00 meeting to determine whether the committee should add “great parks” to another survey.
They should then just ask the bartender what the bar does to attract young people. I bet the answer is this: “Ya’ gotta’ get the LADIES!”
“No Cover for Ladies!”
“Half-Price Frozen Margaritas!”
This is no secret requiring thousands of dollars for consultants to create surveys! If young women come, then young men soon follow. In fact, now the city has them while they have disposable incomes and are seeking an active lifestyle in the downtown urban core. They don’t even have children yet, so they’re not placing increased demand on stretched educational resources.
With enough women and following admirers, families will soon develop. Growth. Organic growth. Doesn’t everybody remember the jump rope song of our youth? “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Susie in a baby carriage!”
Many communities want to push that it’s a “great place to raise a family.” That’s nice. Whatever. Today’s young women want more. They want a great place to raise a family AND they want a career. If they fear the city is not an active supporter of women’s progress and careers, they’ll pass on the city. Cities and businesses should work together to attract and promote women. If some people object, they should consider what it’s like to live in a city like Williston, North Dakota, where the male-to-female ratio is 6:1. The men hate it. Of the few women who are confident enough to leave their homes without the fear of being hounded, they hate it more. Williston will never be a major city.
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