Working from home — this will continue and it’s a good thing for women. Working from gives moms more flexibility and time that was once spent commuting can be spent in more productive ways.

When it comes to designing the future of work, one size fits none. Discovering success isn’t about a hybrid model or offering remote work options. Individuals and organizations are looking for more freedom. The freedom to choose the work model that makes the most sense. The freedom to choose their own values. And the freedom to pursue what matters most. We reached out to successful leaders and thought leaders across all industries to glean their insights and predictions about how to create a future that works.

As a part of our interview series called “How Employers and Employees are Reworking Work Together,” we had the pleasure to interview Amy Diehl and Leanne M. Dzubinski.

Amy Diehl, PhD, is an award-winning information technology leader and gender equity researcher who has authored numerous scholarly journal articles and book chapters. Her writing has also appeared in Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, and Ms. Magazine. Glass Walls, co-authored with Leanne Dzubinski, is her first book. She is also a sought-after speaker, consultant, and lawsuit expert witness. She resides in a small town in Pennsylvania. You can visit her online at

Leanne M. Dzubinski, PhD, is acting dean and associate professor of intercultural education in the Cook School of Intercultural Studies at Biola University in California. She is the author of Women in the Mission of the Church: Their Opportunities and Obstacles throughout Christian History and Playing by the Rules: How Women Lead in Evangelical Mission Organizations and co-author of Glass Walls along with Amy Diehl. She has written many scholarly articles related to gender bias and her work has been published in Harvard Business Review and Fast Company. Prior to moving to California, she worked in western Europe for many years.

Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today?

Dr. Amy Diehl: A pivotal moment for Leanne and me both occurred when we met in 2014. We were both newly minted PhDs attending a conference meant to extend research on women and leadership and were put into the same working group. In fact, our research partnership almost didn’t happen. I developed laryngitis during the flight into the conference. I literally could not speak for the first two days. By the third and last day, I had recovered my voice enough to have a conversation. It was then that I talked to Leanne and learned that we had very similar dissertation research. While I had studied adversity and gender barriers affecting women in leadership, Leanne had studied challenges for women leaders in faith-based non-profits. At this point, it was time to go to the airport for our return flights home. Fortunately, we were able to share a ride to the airport and had about two hours before our flights departed. We continued our conversation, discovering that the participants in our respective studies had faced very similar barriers. For example, women in my study had to work twice as hard as men to succeed, so did women in Leanne’s study. Women in my study had their decisions overturned by supervisors, so did women in Leanne’s study. It was then, in the airport, that we came to the realization that the barriers these women experienced were not specific to their industry, but instead were occurring because they were women in leadership.

Let’s zoom out. What do you predict will be the same about work, the workforce and the workplace 10–15 years from now? What do you predict will be different?

Dr. Leanne Dzubinski: What should stay the same? Any practices that already focus on maximizing diversity and inclusion should continue. After all, the research is sound, showing that those practices yield better organizational outcomes, not to mention happier and more productive employees. Study after study shows the benefits of having a gender-diverse leadership team. Organizations with diverse leadership teams are more profitable. Banks with diverse leadership teams incur fewer fines for misbehavior. In medicine, women surgeons have better outcomes and lower patient death rates. Gender diverse firms perform better at Corporate Social Responsibility. They have fewer turnover costs, since replacing an employee (such as a woman who leaves due to bias and discrimination) is costly to the organization. Satisfied and happy employees are more productive in the workplace. What company doesn’t want that?

Still, we hope to see much more growth in those areas. We hope to see workplaces where gender bias and sexism have been completely eliminated and are replaced with equity. We hope to see that women are fully valued, paid equally to men, and are not just invited but fully welcomed into the workplaces. We hope their voices and perspectives are not just tolerated but supported as a value-add to the organization. We hope to see strong organizations that value diversity, maximizing and including every person’s unique strengths and contributions.

What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?

Dr. Amy Diehl: The best advice I can offer is to become fully gender-inclusive. Bring women into your organization at equivalent levels to men and support them fully. I like to tell the story of biochemist Dr. Katalin Karikó. Dr. Karikó studied messenger RNA (mRNA) for years at the University of Pennsylvania, but she encountered many barriers and the institution eventually demoted her out of her tenure track role. Dr. Karikó chose to stay to continue her research and in 2012 published a ground-breaking study on mRNA. This work was foundational to the rapid development of the first COVID-19 vaccines. While Dr. Karikó’s tenacity enabled her success, just think about how much more successful she might have been if her employer fully supported her work. And think about the women for whom the roadblocks are insurmountable — they are unable to attain positions on par with men, their work is undervalued and unsupported, and/or they leave the workplace before reaching their potential. The employer and society lose out on potential innovation and growth.

What do you predict will be the biggest gaps between what employers are willing to offer and what employees expect as we move forward? And what strategies would you offer about how to reconcile those gaps?

Dr. Leanne Dzubinski: One of the biggest gaps is clearly some employers’ push to bring workers back to the office compared with many employees’ desire to continue with remote and flexible work post-pandemic. While the classic five-day, eight-(or more!)-hour model does work for some people, it’s steadily becoming less necessary and less appealing to many workers. Anyone with caregiving responsibilities — whether that’s elder care, child care, care for a differently-abled relative, or any kind of care at all — benefits when work is flexible and remote. Often that’s women, but not always. Reduced commute time is also good for employees’ mental health as well as good for the environment and produces a smaller carbon footprint.

Another big gap is, frankly, the persistence of gender bias at work. Researchers, including Amy and me, have been studying this problem for years. First people thought it was a “pipeline problem” and that once more women entered the workforce, bias would start to disappear. But it’s turned out that the “add women and stir” approach doesn’t actually change things. As we discuss in our study of four gender-balanced industries, bias persists. Organizations have developed primarily with men’s lifestyles and needs in mind, and often assume a spouse is available to handle men’s personal and caretaking needs. So the expectation is that workers can be fully available, sometimes even 24/7, for the company. Even when more women enter those workplaces, they may find themselves feeling rather like an outsider. The organization may feel like a boys’ club, women may find their voices constrained in many ways, and they may find themselves not fully supported or even diminished and treated as less-than.

Combating such male-normed cultures to create more inclusive workplaces takes intentionality, but it can be done. And as we’ve said, both the business case and the moral case are clear! Some concrete strategies we have identified are to create climates of cooperation instead of competition; to use goal achievement as a measure of success, rather than time spent in the office or on a task; to implement equitable reward structures; to support autonomy and remote work; and to make sure decision-making processes are transparent.

We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working From Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?

Dr. Amy Diehl: While some organizations allowed workers to telecommute prior to March 2020, the large-scale adoption of remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic proved that remote work “works” for employees and employers. Without the need to commute to an office, employees suddenly had improved morale and work-life balance. Even resistant-to-change industries like banking and finance thrived with a distributed workforce. And new telehealth options allowed easier access to healthcare for patients. Now, in 2023, we are hearing stories of CEOs (mostly affluent white men) demanding their employees return to the office. These are people who are more likely to have stay-at-home partners and resources for paid household support and quality childcare than most of their workforce. They are out of touch with the daily life and burdens of their staff. Employees, however, are pushing back against return-to-office demands. Most recent data shows that the majority of workers who can work from home still do (46 percent some of the time; 19 percent all of the time). In the end, if an employer wants to remain competitive and attract the best workers, then they need to provide the option to work remotely from anywhere for remote-capable positions. And they will need to provide flexibility for non-remote-capable positions.

We’ve all read the headlines about how the pandemic reshaped the workforce. What societal changes do you foresee as necessary to support a future of work that works for everyone?

Dr. Leanne Dzubinski: To create a future of work that works for everyone, we need a reset both societally and in the home. The U.S. lacks communal support structures for families, like universal pre-kindergarten, affordable childcare, and paid parental leave. Compared to other industrialized nations, at the federal level, the U.S. lags significantly in this area. And the pandemic brought this reality into stark view. As sociologist Jessica Calarco commented, “Other countries have social safety nets; the U.S. has women.” While President Biden has been supportive of these measures, there is significant opposition from some political leaders, who tend to be older affluent white men with a stay-at-home spouse and/or paid household staff as their own personal support system. Our society needs leaders with more imagination and empathy, who can see beyond their own personal experiences to understand the needs of women and other marginalized people.

Second, we need a reset at home. More than some other industrialized nations, the U.S. seems to have bought into the idea of “separate spheres.” This idea developed during the Industrial Revolution which assigned men to the “public” sphere and women to the “domestic” sphere. But that lifestyle has only ever applied to the wealthiest people. Most of us need to earn a living, and in families that means both parents need to work. Both partners also need to be engaged at home. Current studies show that women spend, on average, an hour more per day on physical labor at home. They also spend more time on mental labor, meaning they plan, organize, and manage who does which tasks to keep the household running. We need to challenge these gender-based assumptions of who does what, and encourage men to engage more at home and with their children. We also need employers to offer and encourage men to take parental leave. Not only is it good for their family, it helps men develop that imagination and empathy for others that is so important in leaders.

What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?

Dr. Amy Diehl: My greatest source of optimism about the future of work is that today much more is known about workplace gender bias — we can recognize it and have tools to eliminate it. Leanne’s and my goal in writing Glass Walls was to distill the research on gender bias (our own and that of others) into a single handbook with solutions. I’m also optimistic because there are also so many other people — researchers, leaders, allies, and women themselves — working on this pernicious problem. While bias and sexism have been embedded into our workplace cultures, we now know how to root them out. Progress is slow with some industries doing better than others, but working together we can make our organizations inclusive and supportive of all people.

Our collective mental health and wellbeing are now considered collateral as we consider the future of work. What innovative strategies do you see employers offering to help improve and optimize their employee’s mental health and wellbeing?

Dr. Leanne Dzubinski: As we’ve mentioned, increased flexibility and remote work are one big improvement companies can make. Second, eliminating bias and discrimination will also have a huge impact on everyone’s well-being. Women waste so much time at work trying to make sense of instances of bias, which distracts them from doing their actual job. And that also makes them less productive. An equitable, inclusive, and bias-free workplace will benefit everyone who’s part of it!

It seems like there’s a new headline every day. ‘The Great Resignation’. ‘The Great Reconfiguration’. And now the ‘Great Reevaluation’. What are the most important messages leaders need to hear from these headlines? How do company cultures need to evolve?

Dr. Amy Diehl: The most important thing leaders should understand is that people are tired of the status-quo. Rigid inflexible work environments may serve affluent male CEOs but they demean women and our shared humanity. Top leaders must understand that the majorities of their workforce are not like them. Most do not have stay-at-home partners and/or paid household staff. Leaders should pay attention to and value their employees, especially those that have been marginalized, like women. They should offer remote work when possible, flexibility to everyone, paid parental leave, and subsidized high-quality childcare. They should also help employees maintain boundaries around their work and their families, such as not expecting or requiring 24×7 availability. Since the pandemic, employees realize they have options. If you don’t make your workplace accommodating to the everyday needs of your staff, they will go find a workplace that will.

Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?”

Working from home — this will continue and it’s a good thing for women. Working from gives moms more flexibility and time that was once spent commuting can be spent in more productive ways.

As baby boomers age out of the labor force a labor shortage will make women more valuable at work. Women will have more power to promote change in the workplace and employers will oblige.

Women being more valued at work will lead to having childcare demands taken more seriously. We are on the cusp of an inevitable revolution in childcare.

The U.S. will become more like developed European countries when it comes to time off policies and office boundaries. One of the biggest problems with workplace gender bias are men who enforce long workdays and promote forgoing vacation days. That attitude will be increasingly be seen as sexist and irrational.

Gen Z will force companies to become more inclusive and less biased. Generation Z is well aware of the harms perpetuated by bad work culture and will continue to call it out. That kind of quiet insistence will force a cultural shift over time.

I keep quotes on my desk and on scraps of paper to stay inspired. What’s your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? And how has this quote shaped your perspective?

Dr. Leanne Dzubinski: My mom actually made me a little hand stitched wall hanging that says, “Where there’s a way, there’s a woman.” I keep it handy to remind me of how she and my grandmothers and sisters and daughters and friends have built into who I am. And it reminds me that women are vital to the success and flourishing of all societies, globally. Women are very creative in making a way where others don’t see one. Just look at the story of Dr. Karikó which we’ve already mentioned. She was critical to research which created the mRNA vaccine that helped stop the COVID pandemic. She’s the one who, years before the COVID-19 pandemic, had the foresight to work on a solution that helps to stop a globally destructive virus. And she’s only one of a myriad of examples where women have made a way for all of us to thrive.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He, she, or they might just see this if we tag them.

Dr. Amy Diehl: There are two people, both in politics: Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and current Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Both of these women are extraordinary and have broken so many barriers for women. And both have dealt with extreme sexism and misogyny. The goal of the harassment they receive is to signal to other women to stay out of public life. Yet both have persisted, and both have much to teach me and others about courage, standing up to the bullies, and not giving up on the fight for women’s equality.

Our readers often like to continue the conversation with our featured interviewees. How can they best connect with you and stay current on what you’re discovering?

Dr. Amy Diehl: Find me online at, on LinkedIn at amy-diehl and Twitter @amydiehl.

Dr. Leanne Dzubinski: I’m on LinkedIn at leanne-dzubinski and Facebook at LeanneDzubinskiPhD

Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and good health.