Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Working and Parenting, 2011 Version

Recently, there have been a number of articles about the impact of children on women's career trajectory.  This one at the WSJ here talks about why women don't reach middle management.  Another WSJ piece, this one an opinion on why women's pay should lag that of men's, as the author thinks women have less investment in the workplace: In reality, some women are punished strictly on the basis of being part of their gender group.  This one reported in (originally from on why women are working at home instead of working outside the home.   And the regrets of a stay-at-home work-at-home freelancing mom, more than a dozen years later. 

As for working at home and being an entrepreneur, there are many drivers:  Among the issues here are a desire to be present on the part of mothers.  Childcare costs.  The second shift, where women still - by choice or by coercion or by society's expectations - put in more hours at home than their male partners.  The glass ceiling in many industries.  And the inability (or the perception of inability) to do both jobs (paying job, out of the house and unpaid, in the home) well or even acceptably.

For the new generation, those of Gen X or Gen Y who have baby-boomer parents, they have the additional experience of being latch-key kids, which impacts in turn their perception of working while parenting.  Many aren't willing to make the sacrifice that might be required, no matter what the rewards. 

Add in the additional opportunities at home due to technology.  Work at home.  Telecommuting.  Writing books and blogs.  Entrepreneurship.  Working at home is acceptable now, whether it is self-employment or as part of a "real" job. 

Unfortunately, life is not a Petri dish. No parent can put in the variables of work/no-work/part-time-work, home/not-at-home and find out what their life, their kids, their finances will look like in 20 years.  So they muddle through.   

I do know that things are much better now than they were when I was contemplating combining motherhood with career.  Maternity leave was rare, paternity leave an aberration. Whole departments and companies had no working mothers.  Twenty years ago, I had a stellar employee who wanted to work to telecommute to save two hours of commuting time per day. She was going to be a first-time mom, and I argued and hit a brick wall.  That company lost a lot, and the employee also lost although her career wasn't derailed, just delayed.  Now I think I could get that type of arrangement approved for a good employee who had already proven him/herself, with benefits all around.  The question is: Would she want it?  Readers - what are your opinions?

No comments:

Post a Comment