Tuesday, December 27, 2005

I'm half-way through...

Finishing this fall semester marks my half-way point in my doctoral program at UNC. It has flown by faster than I imagined it would. I think I'm getting better at managing my time, writing papers, and even learning to do excellent work.

My original goal was to try to balance my school work and my mom work so that one did not feel like it was getting in the way of the other. In addition, I wanted to be able to feel good about devoting myself to whatever I was focusing on at the time. So, if I am at school, I am wholly at school, but if I am at home, I wait to finish my school work until my kids are in bed so that they know that they are my priority.

This strategy must have worked because I just got my best grades ever this semester. I'm still in shock.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Work & Being a mom...

There is a great article today in Inside Higher Ed asking women to think about their husbands and whether or not they contribute to the problems of discrimination against working women as much as Larry Summers (Harvard President who thinks women have less ability than men).

This author claims that one of the problems facing women in the workplace is that well-educated women leave to raise children, perpetuating the belief that childrearing is women's work (and not men's) which has a domino effect: women are left off the fast track, women make less money, women are respected less, men make more money, men are respected more, etc. etc. She believes that women can turn this problem around by actually staying in the workforce instead of opting out so that husbands have to take on more of the parenting role, thus equaling out the child-rearing responsibilities.

I do agree with her that women should not opt out all together. It does send the wrong message to everyone, including our children. I have worked part-time the entire time my children were small so that they could see me using my education and having the ability to provide for myself and our family, along with my husband, as a team. Now that they are older, I am able to go back to school to work on that PhD I have wanted to get, to move from adjunct faculty to tenure-track faculty. I made the choice to be adjunct to have the time with my children, and now it is time for me to take the opportunity to make the next move that will be good for all of us.

In addition, my children have had the amazing benefit of having a very involved father who is more available to them than the average dad: he loves to pick them up from school, he enjoys helping out in their classroom, he wants to take them to soccer, he just craves time with them and they know it. He chose a career that has some flexibility so that he could spend time with them while they are awake, and then get back to work as soon as they are asleep. It is an exhausting way to live at times, but important to him as a father. My husband is not one of the problem men, he is one of the men who "gets it."

One thing that the author touched on is that all companies need to consider how they treat women with children. I opted out of the corporate world in favor of the academic world because I knew that a sales job where I traveled five days a week was not conducive to child-rearing, let alone a successful marriage. All but one of the marriages in my sales team had ended as a result of that job. Equally important is having a job that has importance. The company I worked for treated people badly, including me. That made it very easy for me to leave it when it was a choice between my family and my job. Maybe all companies need to re-think the way they treat people if they want to remain competitive and family-friendly.

In one of my classes this week, one of the students did her presentation on dotmoms, a blogging site for moms. Most of the students in my class are undergrads, and we had a lively discussion about whether or not moms should work while raising children. These 20-year old women are already thinking about whether or not they will have jobs that will allow them to be a "good mom." I hope their future employers are thinking about the same thing.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Learning from each other...

I'm taking my second undergrad seminar class for advanced seniors. These classes always take on a few master's and PhD students as well. I have taken these classes primarily because of the professors and the content: last spring I took Phil Meyer's seminar and this semester I'm taking Paul Jones' seminar. Both gentlemen are tops in their fields and I just knew that I would learn so much from them. The fun thing is that I am also learning so much from the other students in my class. We are doing our presentations in Paul's class now, and for some strange reason, I volunteered to go first (probably oldest guilt). Anyway, now I can sit back and enjoy the presentations by the other students. I am enjoying watching their different presentation styles and the variety of online communities they have selected to study. These classes have been two of the most stimulating and interesting classes. Lucky for me...