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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

You and me make "we"

My post entitled, "We are underemployed," spawned an interesting post and a lot of great comments over at Half Changed World. Elizabeth wrote:
I recognize the phenomenon that Suzanne is describing, but I don't see myself in her "we." And I know a lot of employed mothers who get nervous when they hear this kind of sweeping rhetoric, because they worry that if their bosses believe that "all women will leave when they have kids," things will get even harder for them. And some stay-at-home mothers do leave their jobs without regrets or ambivalence.
As I commented there, when I wrote my "Underemployed" post, my "we" was specifically referring to the group of women I know. My Attorney Friend who is not a practicing attorney. My therapist friend who is not a practicing therapist. My software engineering friend who is not a practicing software engineer. The list goes on. These are women who are frustrated because they wanted/want to continue building some sort of career. But instead of transitioning back into their career that they had hoped to leave behind temporarily, they are finding that they can't find a meaningful job that would enable them to work a 20-hour work week. (A mere 40-hour week is very unusual for attorney).

One, of course, could argue that people who are really dedicated to having a career would be willing to work full time. I would then argue--as I do so often--is that there should be more options. I commented:
...It's great to know that you and others have carved out a place that is comfortable in corporate America, but from where I'm standing, it isn't the norm. That said, I feel that changes should be made to improve the work-home balance for all parents. And that is what I was mostly writing about. Regardless whether you consider yourself part of the we, everyone could benefit from more flexible schedules, better maternity/paternity leave packages, more job-share options.
And in that sense, I'll take the liberty of including all people in my argument. I live by the philosophy that we should work to live, not live to work. (Okay workaholics, you're entitled to your lifestyle as well). But regardless of whether you're a parent or an artist on the side or an avid cyclist, American business encourages and nurtures a culture that believes more hours are better. That leaves less time for our personal lives, whether that's with our kids or time on the bike.

And to rip off a line from the movie Sabrina: "More isn't always better Linus. Sometimes it's just more."

1 comment:

  1. Hear, hear, Suzanne. I will never tire of your tirades in favor change in the workplace, at least not until I see the balance tip in favor of accommodating parents who work outside the home.

    I would like to offer some encouragement to others: I pushed for a reduced schedule at my corporate law firm (40 hours instead of the usual 50-60) and I got it. No one at my firm was happy about it, and I was really frustrated at first. But I stuck with it, and over the past four months I have proved to my bosses that a person can be both an attorney and a mother in almost equal measure. They now support my schedule, and I hope that makes it easier for the next attorney at my firm who wants to carve out time for family and self. (Unfortuantely, I'm still not sure I'm in the right place, so I'm on the lookout for new opportunities).

    Revolution happens one soldier at a time in this battle.