Does Canada’s year-long mat leave keep women in the workforce?

A weekly roundup of news and views on office culture, workplace trends, the daily grind and more

The proportion of women aged 25-54 who work has risen in Canada over the last two decades, while it has fallen in the United States. According to a Statistics Canada report released last week, the countries had very similar rates of women’s workforce participation in 1997 (76 per cent in Canada, 77 per cent in the U.S.), but since then, the picture has changed. By 2015, the rates had increased by five percentage points in Canada, and dropped by three in the U.S. The reason? According to a TD Economics report, the reason could be our more generous parental leave policy. (Huffington Post)

Skip that brainstorming session. Study after study has shown that the method, in which several people throw out ideas and try to generate new ones, doesn’t produce as many ideas as people working alone. Enter: brainwriting. In this process, people write down their ideas, then pass the paper along to the next person, who adds their own thoughts. Researcher Paul Paulus recently published a study in Human Factors and Ergonomics Society which compared brainwriting to working alone. “We’ve found that what happens is once you’ve been in a group for awhile, interacting and sharing ideas, and then you’re alone, there’s a big jump in your creativity,” he says. “That’s often when the greatest ideas come.” (Fast Company)

The rules of the job market aren’t the same for older workers. That’s according to new research by Matthew Rutledge, an economist at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. He says men and women 55 and older are increasingly being funnelled into what he describes as “old-person” jobs. Those are a mix of high-skilled service work (like managers, sales supervisors and accountants) and low-skilled service work (like truck drivers, janitors and nursing aides). (New York Times)

It’s not just common words like Apple and Windows that have become trademarked properties. Now, words like “probably” (owned by Carlsberg), “should’ve” (Specsavers) and “Chelsea” (Chelsea Football Club) have become successfully protected in court. Could Elvis Costello sing “I should’ve probably gone to Chelsea” today? (The Guardian)
A dozen federal departments and agencies do not pay their interns, and the Liberal government wants to know why. Some of the largest federal departments have interns working for free, including National Defence, Public Safety and Environment Canada, as well as smaller organizations such as the Canadian Space Agency. The federal government accepts an estimated 1,000 interns each year and is required to pay them unless they’re part of an academic program that specifically forbids payment. Treasury Board President Scott Brison ordered a review of unpaid internships earlier this year. (CBC)