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.


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