I received an email today that wondered how women could claim to be equal to men when pregnancies and child birth made them dependent on other people.
Also, this morning, Latika and Scorpiogenius shared the link to, ‘Why Women Still Can’t Have It All’. The 6 page article talks about what’s preventing mothers from achieving the success they are capable of, even when they do have supportive husbands/partners.
The email writer too might find some answers in this post.
Do working women feel guilty if they have or are going to have children?
“…many women … told me that they never admitted to taking time out for a child’s doctor appointment or school performance, but instead invented a much more neutral excuse.
Today, however, women in power can and should change that environment, … I decided that one of the advantages of being a woman in power was that I could help change the norms by deliberately talking about my children and my desire to have a balanced life.
Thus, I would end faculty meetings at 6 p.m. by saying that I had to go home for dinner; I would also make clear … that I would not come to dinner with them, because I needed to be home from six to eight, but that I would often be willing to come back after eight for a meeting. I also once told the Dean’s Advisory Committee that the associate dean would chair the next session so I could go to a parent-teacher conference.
After a few months of this, several female assistant professors showed up in my office quite agitated. “You have to stop talking about your kids,” one said. “You are not showing the gravitas that people expect from a dean, which is particularly damaging precisely because you are the first woman dean of the school.”
I told them that I was doing it deliberately and continued my practice, but it is interesting that gravitas and parenthood don’t seem to go together.”
Are work places and jobs created only for non-parents or for those who have wives and/or mothers at home? What if those wives and mothers start working?
“If women are ever to achieve real equality as leaders, then we have to stop accepting male behavior and male choices as the default and the ideal. We must insist on changing social policies and bending career tracks to accommodate our choices, too. We have the power to do it if we decide to, and we have many men standing beside us.”
This would eventually mean, specially in the Indian context, that employers would not be allowed to assume that employees have wives at home to manage child and elder care.
The article also points out,
“…among those who have made it to the top, a balanced life still is more elusive for women than it is for men. A simple measure is how many women in top positions have children compared with their male colleagues. Every male Supreme Court justice has a family. Two of the three female justices are single with no children. And the third, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, began her career as a judge only when her younger child was almost grown. The pattern is the same at the National Security Council: Condoleezza Rice, the first and only woman national-security adviser, is also the only national-security adviser since the 1950s not to have a family.”
A new generation of dads.
“… we have a new generation of young men who have been raised by full-time working mothers. Let us presume, as I do with my sons, that they will understand “supporting their families” to mean more than earning money.
Why do women need to fit into the mold of employees who have wives at home?
“…in Lisa Jackson’s words, “to be a strong woman, you don’t have to give up on the things that define you as a woman.” That means respecting, enabling, and indeed celebrating the full range of women’s choices. “Empowering yourself,” Jackson said in her speech at Princeton, “doesn’t have to mean rejecting motherhood, or eliminating the nurturing or feminine aspects of who you are.”
So mothers, unlike fathers, are having to choose between career and parenthood? And ofcourse it is assumed that the society does not need parents?
Here’s a comment (one of 460+)
“I think I am going to write an article about how I, as a father, cannot really ‘have it all’ either. But that seems to be less the issue here.
Bottom line: We all have make choices about what we prioritize. This notion that we can or should ‘re-arrange’ our society to accommodate all parents’ (not just women) desires to be successful professionals and wonderful parents is childish. Our efforts here almost always come at the expense of either our peers at work, our children, or the hapless grandparents or immigrant nannies who actually fill in for absent parents.”
And a response I agree with.
“…if each parent put his/her child first, then we are doing ALL of society a favor, by raising responsible ethical humans who will in turn treat our generation with respect as we get older.
So it’s worthwhile for a society to invest in it’s future by ensuring that those who are raising it’s future are not penalized – or forced to choose against parenthood.”