Too Pragmatic?

I was listening to NPR this morning when they featured a segment about women in the workplace trying to negotiate between family and career. I have heard this conversation SO much lately from my girlfriends with kids. Several of the folks on the NPR panel were shaming corporate America for the lack of “sameness” with which they treat women and men. Others were discussing loop holes, compromises, and historical data.
I tend to be pretty pragmatic. I just turned down a full-time job so that I could stay home with my kid more often. Would I have done that if I didn’t have Abe? Heck no! I would have taken it in a heartbeat! It was a dream job! But it just didn’t work for me right now. I don’t think that means my choice should have to be everyone’s choice. I know plenty of women who love working full-time. I also know women who don’t work at all and spend all of their time with kids. Why should we be generalizing what’s right?
Men and women are not the same. I’m sorry, but they’re not. Women make the babies. We are the ones who are biologically attuned to our children with a force that can’t be reckoned. I don’t care how plugged in your husband is (and mine is in the top 1%), a man does not have the same connection with infants and toddlers that moms do for the first couple years. So if we’re not the same, we can’t be treated the same. And sometimes that means we’re not treated “fairly”. We don’t get the jobs because we have the babies, we make less money because we have the babies, but you know what we get out of it all? WE GET TO HAVE THE BABIES! By the end of the NPR segment I had to wonder why no one was talking about honoring women for mothering the future while having careers. Maybe if women felt appreciated for all that they do, the “glass ceiling” wouldn’t feel so frustrating.
This is me on a high-horse about my opinion but I’m open to other opinions. What do you think about women and careers? Kind of confusing, right?!

1 Comment on Too Pragmatic?

  1. Dave
    June 28, 2012 at 10:44 am (7 years ago)

    I’ve had the same conversation, Erin. One point of contention (and you knew it would come from me): it is not about gender. It’s about parenting and priorities. Having raised my daughter on my own, I’ve always had to work full-time in a demanding job in a male-dominated, conservative field (that I don’t really even like). Hell yes I would have preferred being a stay-at-home-dad… I would’ve gotten more sleep and enjoyed time with my daughter more. My career-track was certainly altered by my parental duties… I never made it to the “upper management” track. No matter how hard I worked and out-performed others, my Mr. Mom position kept me out of the club. It’s probably the reason I’ve evolved into an independent contractor, which is very rare in my field. While I certainly could (and did) whine about how hard it was (holy shit it was), about how so few of my peers had the slightest inkling how hard 60+ hour work weeks were on me… I don’t care how my “career” was affected. I made the right choice and I’d make it again and again. Mostly I recall being pissed off over those times when work made it so hard to enjoy time with my beautiful daughter. Those who know me well know that I have a sharp edge to me as a result and my demeanor when at work (and it sometimes bleeds over the 9-5 boundary) can best be described as tightly-contained volatility. So I understand all too well that “glass ceiling” you spoke of. But it’s not about gender. It’s about corporate perception that you are — or soon will be — on the parent track or, worse, on the stay-at-home-parent track. I know companies that tend to hire divorced men… workers unburdened by family and parenting obligations, not likely to marry soon, and with financial obligations (child support, alimony) simply because they are free and motivated to be slaves to the company. Single parent careers are the least impacted by a full-time-parent status. Yes, the well-known time-constraints and obligations of single parents cause companies to lower their expectations, but since single parents HAVE to stick around, they are considered dependable. But… single moms sometimes remarry and leave the company, just as married women often do after having children, and that makes companies value them less than their male counterparts. It’s just the way it is. It’s not really sexism, it’s simple marketplace reaction to conditions. So — ladies AND gentlemen — make your choices based upon your priorities and make the best of it.


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