Do kids kill women’s careers?

My friend created an uproar on her Facebook page two nights ago about whether having kids kills your career.

My friend is a very successful medical oncologist who works for a government agency and a highly prestigious hospital in the Northeast. She is also a mother of three young children and has chosen to work part-time to be home with her kids.

A woman asked her an odd question the other day about her choice. Here’s what my friend posted:

“An acquaintance today: ‘So, do you feel like a failure for scaling back your career when you had kids?’. Me: ‘Um, no, not really. But thanks for asking!’

I told my friend I would have punched the lady. She said she was so shocked by the question she could barely respond.

Men and women friends responded to her posting mostly saying that by working part time she was able to have it all — she could use her education and feel fulfilled at work but also be at home to enjoy her kids.

Coincidentally, I ran across a report last night on The Huffington Post about a similar topic and I am wondering if the lady that quizzed my friend had read these stories.

From The Huffington Post:

“Last week, The New York Times’ David Leonhardt claimed that women who didn’t have children and never took time off had careers that “resembled” those of men. The next day, The Atlantic’s Daniel Indiviglio argued “women without children are holding their own against men.”

“Both articles were misleading — and ignored the latest Catalyst research on inequity.”

“Gender, not kids, charts career success. Our report, Pipeline’s Broken Promise, found that women and men jump off traditional career paths at equal rates — but only women are penalized for it when they try to get back on track. What’s more, women fresh from M.B.A. programs lag behind similarly qualified men in pay and promotions — and never catch up — whether or not they have children.”

The author concludes further down:

Study after study has shown that ingrained biases and sexist stereotypes harm the career paths of women. We must eliminate these if we want to move closer to parity. Placing blame on the decision to have children distracts us from the core issue: that sexism is alive and well.”

The Huffington Post quoted a report in another story that according to a 2009 study from the Pew Research Center 60 percent of working moms would rather drop to part-time status.

“Sharon Lerner’s new book, The War on Moms, is self-proclaimed “battlefield reporting” on the challenges facing working mothers. Lerner writes about issues revolving around maternity leave (and the lack thereof), hard-to-find affordable child care solutions, and what she calls “a dearth of decent part-time jobs.”

“American women are desperate for part-time work that pays a living wage,” Lerner writes.

”The key there is the phrase “living wage.” Since moms are still the ones primarily responsible for arranging care in most families, a “living wage” doesn’t just have to pay for food and shelter. It also has to cover child care for when Mom’s at work and often health insurance for her and the kids, as well. That’s just not possible with most part-time jobs these days — a fact of life that leaves Lerner appealing to the government to enact change, since many businesses have been slow to change things on their own.”

We have talked before on this blog about how working part-time often is a good choice for moms. It does keep them active in their profession but also allows them flexibility to be home with the kids.

We also discussed a recent study that children of mothers who work part-time are actually healthier than their counterparts.

So lots of questions from these articles:

  1. What do you think of the question my friend was asked — is she a failure in some way for working part-time as a doctor to be home with her kids?

1a. How would you have responded to such a rude question?

2.What do you think of the argument that taking time off to have kids isn’t what derails women’s careers but sexism in general?

3.What do you think of the study that 60 percent of working moms would rather work part-time if they could make enough doing it?

4. What do you think of part-time work versus full-time work for mothers?

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[...] Do kids kill women's careers?Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)She is also a mother of three young children and has chosen to work part-time to be home with her kids. A woman asked her an odd question the other day …and more » [...]

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BlondeHoney

August 11th, 2010
6:30 am

The question was not only rude, it was downright insulting. In situations like that, I like to kill ‘em with kindness: “How nice of you to be so concerned about me…”; that dumbfounds idiots like that. As far as part-time versus full-time, I never had that luxury to choose as I was the major breadwinner for most of my marriage. Sure, it would have been GREAT to choose part time work and still make enough to support my family, d’oh; no WONDER 60% of women would choosethat if they could. It’s called part time for a REASON, folks; you work part time, get paid part time. Work full time, get paid full time.

lakerat

August 11th, 2010
6:38 am

That was spot on, BlondHoney, and brutally honest. Thanks for being the first to differentiate between “part-time” and “full time” employment and their differences so that I do not have to! I get so tired of some workers (women or men) who complain that they want to work “part-time” yet get paid, with benefits, like “full-time” workers. It IS a choice…

deidre_NC

August 11th, 2010
7:12 am

i think that question was very rude, just as many questions these day are…people have lost touch with boundaries in life. as for the part time thing..who wouldnt like to work part time and get paid for full time..or even just get full time benefits…not gonna happen. we live in real life. as for gender equality-its better than it used to be but its still not there yet. not sure it ever will be in some professions.

Mark

August 11th, 2010
7:13 am

One male’s comments…..
1)Any rude question should be answered with a slow burn, then a testy, abrupt answer, possibly adding that children are the fulfillment of who she is and what she wants to be. Next.
2)This isn’t sexism, but competition. Don’t expect your competitors – men or childless women – to patiently wait around while you change diapers and go to PTA meetings. Same-for-same, a person who works 24/7/365 with no breaks will advance fastest and farthest. Those at the top sacrified everything and then some to get there, especially their families.
3)Good parents make sacrifies every day to raise their familes and one is work time. I’m surprised it’s only 60% of moms and suspect just as many dads wish they could be with their families rather than working.
4)Choose whatever works best for your family but don’t expect these choices to have equal pay or benefits.

motherjanegoose

August 11th, 2010
7:16 am

Love my career, love my kids too!

I have lots of folks who tell me, “It would be wonderful to be off 18 weeks per year like you are!” I reply, “You can, just tell your boss you want to do it!” I do not get paid the 14 weeks per year I am off, which is why I am working my fanny off when I am in the 38 weeks….:) I would be dead if I worked 52 weeks per year at that pace.

Some have actually said to me, “How do you manage when you are off, as far as finances?”

Uh…you save some of the money you earned when you were being paid, so you can pay the bills.

I have always worked, even before I was a Mom and ever since. I have also been lucky that my husband has always had a job too! Some are not!

FYI…any Mom who can walk out of their house and to their job, never looking back and thinking about their families needs, during the time they are gone, is cut from a different cloth than me.
I do not see many men who worry about the things that we moms do, while at work.

On the flip side, to those who think all Moms should be at home:

while you are out today, look around at all the Moms who are working and providing the services you need, from dentists to dry cleaners….teachers to toll takers…they all make our world turn!

Hats off to those Moms who are pulling double duty every day!

In the end, would you rather be a “failure” at being a Doctor or a “failure” at being a Mother…that is the true question each of us has to answer.

Off to college today, with my daughter…have fun!

motherjanegoose

August 11th, 2010
7:18 am

ooops math error: I am off 14 weeks not 18….good thing I do not have a boss…LOL…

ajc

August 11th, 2010
7:20 am

Was at a company Christmas party twenty five years ago when someone asked my wife what she did for a living, to which she replied she was a stay-at-home mom. The boss’ wife then said, “Well, I guess that would be fulfilling if you treated it like a job.” What a horse’s ass. She had no clue as to what it took to be a mother. To her, the only way to be “fulfilled” was to be working at a “job”. I felt very sorry for her husband and her children. Is having a “career” so important that you would choose to neglect your children for the sake of your own vanity? We’re not talking having to work to help make ends meet, but rather choosing to do so for gratification. It is a spoiled rotten view of life. If you want to have a career, go and have one. Raising a family is a full-time occupation. Life is full of choices, make the right ones.

First time poster

August 11th, 2010
7:21 am

Mark, on your point #2, that simply is not ture. Study after study show that woman lag behind in salaries to their equally skilled, educated and experienced male counterparts. It has nothing to do with how much an individaul woman works, a guy doing the exact same thing as she, is going to be paid more money, that’s the way it is.

light

August 11th, 2010
7:24 am

Let God will be done thru this blog http://lightoftheearth.blogspot.com/

Jeff

August 11th, 2010
7:32 am

Some people are just jacka**es.

D.

August 11th, 2010
7:32 am

I loooooooooooved working part time and totally agree that that is an ideal situation for many working moms: you can be there for your kids and participate in school activities, but still keep your foot in the door with your career, sans guilt.

However, let’s be real. Of course women CAN work full time and raise kids. But is it really fair that we are expected to? I feel royally screwed by feminism (and I consider myself a feminist). Not only are we “allowed” to have a successful full time career, we are EXPECTED to, in addition to doing everything else: cleaning the house, taking care of the kids, keeping up with social obligations. You can’t give 100% to everything because you would have to be a superhuman.

Let’s just be supportive of our fellow moms, whatever the choice, because none of it is easy. You can choose to focus more on your kids, and end up sacrificing career goals, focus on your career and feel guilty about not spending more time with the kids (or forego kids all together – which is a choice that also should not be disparaged), or split it up the middle and end up feeling inadequate all around. Just keep in mind we are all in similar boats, and we will be more successful as a whole untied, rather than belittling other women for their choices or being competitive with each other.

Uh, motherjane...

August 11th, 2010
7:39 am

…that is quite a sexist, and untrue, comment you made with “I do not see many men who worry about the things that we moms do, while at work”.

That is horsehockey at its zenith, unless you have ASKED each and every of the “not…many men” what they think about each and everyday, and asked “every mom who works” the same questions – one would expect better from someone with your background and “feet on the ground” senses…

ATLien

August 11th, 2010
7:42 am

Depends on the career. And, I don’t think kids “kill” a career but more like slow it down until they get a bit older. It’s all very doable it just takes time, planning, and help from everyone in the family.

Hey, D.

August 11th, 2010
7:42 am

Who is tying you down? This may fall under the “too much information” aspect…

Supermom

August 11th, 2010
7:45 am

Being a Mom is my job. Any woman who has a job besides taking care of their kids should have said kids removed from her care! A working mother is child abuse! If you had children before making sure you could finacially afford to raise them correctly you should have kept your damn legs shut. Working mothers make me sick!

Somehow, I do not think...

August 11th, 2010
7:53 am

…that Supermom is a legitimate person or blogger, so don’t any of you go get riled up over those comments…

motherjanegoose

August 11th, 2010
8:03 am

@ uh… ( thanks your last few lines)

I am sure there ARE some men who worry about the following;

Do we have enough milk for breakfast tomorrow, lunch meat for sandwiches or ketchup for french fries tonight
Is there extra toilet paper in the upstairs bathroom
Did someone water the plants in the living room
Did _____ remember to bring an empty paper towel tube for art class after school
Did the dog get her heart worm pill this month
Did we remember to bring the tablecloth in from off of the picnic table last night, or will it be soaking wet because it has rained all day today
Do we have extra Gatorade or Ginger Ale in the outside fridge, in case we get the flu

None of these are earth shattering but they are things that I typically think about and my husband usually does not. I work with a lot of women ( all across the country) and not many men. They typically tell me what is going on in their families too.

I usually do not sit next to men in the airplane who say, ” Oh wow…I wonder if my 5th grader is going to need any immunizations this summer before he heads to middle school.” I am sure they must be out there but I do not meet these men often. Some men on this blog seem very in tune with what is going on at home but most I meet tell me, “my wife handles that.”

Maybe others today will explain how their husbands and the men they know ALL do this and I will be 100% wrong on my opinion….if so, that would be fine!

Supermom…do you live in the same world the rest of us live in? I think there would be a BIG tilt if all moms were at home today…would there be enough men out there to pick up the pace of jobs held by women today? At the very least, I would not want to be sick and have to be admitted to the hospital.

Mom

August 11th, 2010
8:04 am

I feel that having kids has made me a better employee. Because I want to have time with my children, I work at a faster more efficient pace. The days of staying late each day are over, but my work has improved.

RJ

August 11th, 2010
8:07 am

In the end, would you rather be a “failure” at being a Doctor or a “failure” at being a Mother…that is the true question each of us has to answer.

What an awesome question @MJG!

@Supermom, are you really a woman? I can’t believe anyone truly feels that way.

Working part-time is a choice, therefore nobody should expect full time benefits. If you’re able to pull it off, I advise you to take the opportunity to do it for the first year or two of your child’s life. I did it wiht my second child. However, if you can’t, it doesn’t mean that you’re a bad parent. I couldn’t do it today if I wanted to. We have a bigger house, which means a larger mortgage. Not a mini-mansion, just more space than our starter home. The kids are involved in multiple activities that they enjoy and I wouldn’t want to prevent them from enjoying those activities. Since I’m a teacher, I’ve always worked two jobs with the exception of the 2 years I worked part time. I still do but I am self employed so I don’t clock in anywhere, but I have to earn enough to pay for those extras that my paycheck won’t cover. It’s difficult, but I’ve managed to raise great kids, have two careers and still keep my sanity. Perhaps I’m the real “Supermom”!

deidre_NC

August 11th, 2010
8:12 am

i too have seen in many cases where the dads do not have the same concerns as the mom. i know 2 women who are the main breadwinners..the dads are actually stay at home dads and it works well, until the kids get sick..then mom has to take off work…makes little sense to me. i know personally that there are many men who are just as concerned as women about their kids…but i would bet the majority of men leave the missing work for the kids up to the mom. sorry dads-its just a fact of life.

Cedric

August 11th, 2010
8:13 am

Yes when personal life and excess drama routinely bleed too far into business. Same for single dads too. Putting PC-speech aside, we’re all there to work–not to have our family overwhelm job duties.

OK, motherjane...

August 11th, 2010
8:28 am

…as you sit beside those men on flights (and yes, I know your reference points are based on “I work with a lot of women ( all across the country) and not many men”, ask them if they are asking themselves…

I wonder if the lawnmower will have gas in it when I get home, and if it will start, or will I have to take it to be repaired…

I wonder if “Johnny or Susie, or even wifey” will remember to gas up the car before I get in it in the morning…

Will the patch on the roof that I did as a stop-gap last long enough before the roofer gets here to make a permanent fix…

The refrigerator is making a different kind of noise – wonder if it is time to replace it…

I wonder how long the “check engine” light has been on in my wife’s car…

I wonder how long her brakes have been squealing…

Did the grass get cut…

Whose car needs washing…

Whose car needs the oil changed…

Did anyone put new washer fluid in the car…

Do we have propane for the grill since wifey is entertaining this weekend…

etc, etc, etc…

See, motherjane, two can play the “my spouse doesn’t think like a mom or dad” game…

motherjanegoose

August 11th, 2010
8:40 am

LOL…I took my car to get an oil change last week and also my daughter’s this week. I have always washed my own car., I bought a new fridge and washer and dryer with the money I earned ( extra to pay cash) . I will be here when the painters come this week too. My husband has told me that I am orchestrating that project. I always put my own gas in my car and even do the income taxes too. Guess my world is different than yours. No biggy.

I would be curious as to whether most of the other posters have hubbies who handle all this for them. We will see.

Have a great day all!

Bendoj

August 11th, 2010
8:40 am

I have no children by choice and this is now hurting my career in a place that it seems the management spends more time off with their children than at work. It appears I am now blacklisted for my choice. That doesn’t stop the mommy club from dumping their work on me so they can continually deal with sick children, teacher work days, glee club, etc… (Although they often come back from the doctor’s office with new hairstyles.) If you want to have children, take some time off from work. Oh, and please, please, PLEASE stop boring me with stories of your children’s innane lives.

deidre_NC

August 11th, 2010
8:45 am

@ok mother jane…i have wondered all these things….ive been a single parent for years…and honestly when i was marrid i still had to wonder those things…so yes..women do worry and wonder about alll of those things, some do whether or not they have a husband.

JoDee

August 11th, 2010
8:49 am

Ooh, what a great topic!

I have become a much better teacher since I became a mom. I have become a much better middle school teacher since my own child became an adolescent. My career has been enhanced by parenthood, not hampered.

I was a SAHM for awhile, but chose to go back to teaching. Teaching is my gift, and I felt (and feel) that we should use the gifts that God gives us for the greater good.

MomOf2Girls

August 11th, 2010
8:50 am

Random thoughts:
1. As a hiring manager, I can say that I do not give any thought to gender when I make offers / give raises. It is completely based upon skills the person is bringing to the table and performance throughout the year. The biggest raise I gave this past year was to a mother who has 1 child, a husband who travels, and a live-in MIL who can’t drive. She deserved the big raise because she kicked butt at work the previous year. She did take time off for dr appts, school stuff, etc, but I consider that part of life and don’t penalize ANYONE for it, man or woman.

2. My husband was a stay-at-home dad for years. He handled everything on the homefront, and was (mostly) on top of things. He went back to work a few years ago so we could pay for things my salary wasn’t covering. As his hours ramped up, his participation in the home cut back. Now we work around the same number of hours, but I run the house and do the vast majority of the housework, and I have to remind him to do things he used to do as a matter of course.

3. Would I like to work part time? LOVE TO! However, reality doesn’t intersect with desire (others have covered this well already). So I work full time to keep a roof over my family’s heads, food on the table, etc. Do I feel like I miss out? Yes. Can I change it? Not really – my husband doesn’t have near the earning power that I do because of our degrees and experience, and we have fixed expenses at this point that would be difficult to sufficiently change to accommodate a much lower income.

4. Do I think the friend is a failure? Heck no, I’m jealous as all get-out (see #3 :-) )

5. Am I tired of the generalizations and “studies”? You betcha! There are so many variables involved, and studies often don’t take them all into consideration, that I don’t think there is nearly the disparity that people claim. Studies often find what they think they will simply because of how they are run. I know that I get paid comparably to my peers, and always have been (I know, I can see a lot of the salaries because of my position). Maybe other fields are different (I’m in IT), but who knows, because that’s one of the variables I never see mentioned.

Stream of consciousness over……

Jeff

August 11th, 2010
8:54 am

In defense of motherjane; she has earned the right (IMO) to make the statement she is making. She doesn’t have a history of making crazy feminist statements and routinely provides great insight. The balance between what a father and mother think about are not better or worse or less valuable than the other, just different.

deidre_NC

August 11th, 2010
8:58 am

i really havent see a lot (i have seen a little) of gender discrimination. all the studies say it is prevalent..but i havent seen it in the workplace much. i have seen it more personally in peoples marriages..

b

August 11th, 2010
8:58 am

I look at it in two ways: one, sexism is a real problem in the workplace in many but not all jobs, and two, having children provides challenges to a career but really does not hinder it if you and your spouse really work things out.

After years in the workplace and having changed careers three time, I think that sexism is especially bad in the corporate arena. I actually worked part-time (80%) before I had children but while I was pursuing my MBA. It was a healthcare position so there was no downside to me except that my salary and benefits were prorated to my percentage of work time.

I have worked full-time the rest of my 30 years of employment and can certainly state that the ceiling for women is much lower than for men, salaries are definitely lower, and yet I must work full time in order to feed and clothe my kids, have a roof over our heads and have healthcare. And yes, I have a spouse, but he has been laid off for the 5th time in his employment career so my not working has never been a possibility.

If I had been given a choice, I probably would have worked part time when my children were small, but it wasn’t an option. I don’t think that at that point of my career it would have mattered as I was not looking to advance beyond where I was at the time. Two career changes later, and now in the corporate world, I would not go to part time, even if I could afford it. I would jeopardize my advancement; you are not seen as being fully committed to the company or to the job, and co-workers become disgruntled with you because they are picking up whatever work you cannot do since you are PT.

I think you need to look at your life/home/children goals, your career goals, and then make the choice about children and working based on these.

Mark

August 11th, 2010
9:00 am

Back at FirstTimePoster….

I have to disagree that pay sexism exists in larger companies. HR departments keenly monitor and test pay equality of all demographics and there just isn’t one anymore. Same for same, working mothers’ pay will suffer over time by taking time off to have children. Those raises they missed for a few years will account for most of the pay differences down the road.

The remainder will be accounted for by differences in stack-ranking. You can call it sexism, but it’s really business value. Top-performers can out-earn average performers more than 2 to 1 over a career, and top-performers are those who work the longest hours and produce the most for their companies.

It isn’t sexism or anti-motherhood to give a higher raise & bonus to a person – male or female – who works 60 hours a week and produces proportionally more work compared to a working mother or father who puts in her 40 and leaves to take care of her children, then also steps out for dental appointments and school events. Expecting equal raises and bonuses for unequal results is unfair. Those differences will add-up over the years.

The true test of pay equality is if a working mother has an equal opportunity to be ranked as a top-producer and if her raise & bonus is equal to other persons of the same ranking. That answer is emphatically, “yes”, because it is tested, confirmed, and required at larger companies.

If you want top position, pay & bonus, then you must sacrifice time with your family to get there and make alternative family care arrangements. Take a hard look at your circumstance and performance before throwing around the sexism or anti-motherhood claim. Expect no concessions because you are a mother or father, and expect your pay will be less over time for being a good mother or father.

You can’t have it all.

Lori

August 11th, 2010
9:04 am

Wow, what a rude person. It’s a personal choice that every woman makes, whether to work, not work or work part time. Every family is different, so it’s no one’s business what anyone else has decided is best for theirs. Personally, I would love to be able to work part time or not at all. Strange that they would ask if she felt like a failure for working part time. I feel more the failure for not being their for my son, since I consider motherhood FAR more important than my career. My job is just a job I’ll have for some number of years and may change many times. But my son is my son for life and I am teaching him how to live, how to love, how to learn, how to be a parent. That’s where my focus is. I’m lucky, too, in that my husband is just as involved as I am. We take turns taking off work when my son is sick or has a field trip, so it isn’t only my job that is affected. My workplace and my boss are very family oriented as well, so they understand when I need to be there for him. I know a lot of people aren’t so fortunate, but that is one of the reasons I am working where I am.

gpkbsin

August 11th, 2010
9:04 am

great topic Theresa. i think it all depends on the person… how you take it. my mom thought that she had sacrificed her career for us. mind you, she is a ob gyn but wanted to do more. so when my sister and i had kids, she made it a point to push us to go back to work. she said that no matter what, we have to start working. she doesn’t want us regretting later.

having said that, my sister has an amazing career while I have scaled back a lot at work. when i became a parent, my priorities changed. maybe it’ll change again when kids are self sufficient.

the best part of having kids was that my husband who traveled 3 weeks in a month changed jobs so he didn’t have to travel at all.

so, its not only women who scale back.

JoDee

August 11th, 2010
9:05 am

Agreed, Jeff. My hubby thinks about the long term, and I’m thinking short- and mid-term. He plans for the security of the family, and I plan for the nurturing. Great complementarity, actually. Retirement, college funds, and the “autumn of our lives” has always been on his radar screen, while mine was full of the things that MJG mentioned.

Hey Jeff...

August 11th, 2010
9:05 am

…I know you meant well in defending motherjane, but your last sentence “The balance between what a father and mother think about are not better or worse or less valuable than the other, just different” solidifies my point, not hers.

Granted, we are “just different”m, and I, as a father and husband wonder about

Do we have enough milk for breakfast tomorrow, lunch meat for sandwiches or ketchup for french fries tonight
Is there extra toilet paper in the upstairs bathroom
Did someone water the plants in the living room
Did _____ remember to bring an empty paper towel tube for art class after school
Did the dog get her heart worm pill this month
Did we remember to bring the tablecloth in from off of the picnic table last night, or will it be soaking wet because it has rained all day today
Do we have extra Gatorade or Ginger Ale in the outside fridge, in case we get the flu…

So from my point of view and points of reference, her blanket statement is just not true the “most” men do not think about these things – and yes, I have taken off work to care for my kids, take them to the MD, attended school day functions, wash the dishes, do the laundry, wash, dry and fold clothes, wash windows, vacuum, cook (not much, but some)etc, and loved every minute of it, so I take great offense when the “moms” make blanket statements about men and dads in general…

Jeff

August 11th, 2010
9:05 am

b, I work in healthcare also and it is DOMINATED by women. While I agree there is sexism in selected areas, I have seen more blatant sexism coming from women in the last few years than anywhere else. I could file a lawsuit almost every week based on some of the things that are said in my presence by females.

Mrs. G

August 11th, 2010
9:08 am

I don’t have kids yet (yet I can’t stay away from the Momania blog, haha…growing up, I was the weirdo child who would read my mom’s Redbook magazines and my favorite articles were the parenting ones…I think I’ve always been excited to have babies, LMAO), but my career choices have absolutely been influenced by my family (for now, my husband and, eventually, my husband and our kids) and how I want to be able to spend my/our life/lives.

In high school, I wanted to eventually become a doctor. It was an obsession; I took extra science electives and had what amounted to a library of medical-related books that I liked to read for fun. During undergrad, though, I thought long and hard about the sacrifices I would have to make (with regard to time with family, especially early on in a medical career) and I decided that I wasn’t willing to make them. My degree is in biology, so I chose a career in laboratory research instead (a career that is far more flexible).

I feel like some especially career-minded people might call me a “failure” in a career sense (since I didn’t “shoot for the stars” even before having kids), but I feel like, had I pursued a career that I knew wouldn’t allow me the family time that know that I desire, I would be a failure in a far more important sense. It’s all about what a person values. I think that if a person recognizes what is important to him/her and works hard for it (whatever it may be), then there is no way that they are a failure.

So, to answer your questions, Theresa:

1. What a rude question. NO WAY. It sounds like your friend has a great work-life balance. Kudos to her for being able to do what she loves careerwise and still make time for her family!

1a. I probably would have called the person on the fact that it was a rude question. Then I probably would have said, “Do I LOOK like a failure?” (hopefully making that insensitive lady feel very uncomfortable).

2. I don’t know; some of the most successful people (careerwise) I know are both women and moms. I guess that I’ve been lucky enough not to see any women with derailed careers/careers that have suffered?

3. I think that the results of the study make sense; all of the moms that I know would love to have more time with their kids.

4. Part-time work for mothers is a great idea, if it brings in enough money. That way, the moms get more time with their kids, but they are still doing something for themselves (my mom stayed at home with me and my brother and, as I got older (and my brother was still a lot younger), I remember her telling me on more than one occasion that she wished she had more “adult time.” Unfortunately, I don’t know that part-time work will be an option for me; even now, pre-kids, my husband and I need both of our salaries to pay the bills.

K, time to post my essay. ;)

Jeff

August 11th, 2010
9:09 am

I agree and you are right. I think about those things as well and many of my fellow dad friends do also. We just don’t get credit for it in the public arena, which is fine because I don’t get up every morning for the approval of the public arena. I probably reached too far in my defense on MJG, but maybe that’s a man thing too. LOL I’m glad you’re on here contributing as a fellow parent.

First time poster

August 11th, 2010
9:12 am

Mark, I agree with what you are saying about more work generally means better pay. What you seem to be misunderstanding is that all things being equal – meaning the man and woman perform exactly the same job, at the same pace and the same quality, they man will still typically be better paid. Is this 100% true across the board, no of course not, but generally speaking it is.

YUKI

August 11th, 2010
9:18 am

Very well said, Lori. I also work full time. If there was any chance I could make decent money part time, you better believe i would do it. I’m always on the lookout but the opportunities in my field are few and far between. I miss the time with my son but I am proud to also be contributing to providing for his future and the future of my husband and myself because we want to retire before we are 75. You make sacrifices and do what is best for you family, simple as that.

Cammi317

August 11th, 2010
9:20 am

In short, the answer is NO. One of my sisters is an attorney. Before she had her daughter last year she was working in one of the big firms making well into the 6 figures. Since having her daughter she has decided to go into business for herself working from her home office. She is no longer making the massive salary that she once made, but she is happier than I have ever known her to be. At the big firm she was stressed. Working for herself, she is laughing all the time, spending time with her daughter and has more than enough contract work to to continue to contribute to her household. She and her husband and her little one are just happy as they can be. I would say she is more successful now than she has ever been.

I would have loved to be able to have had that time with my daughter through her infant and toddler years. But we make the sacrifices that we have to make. If I had the opportunity to work part-time, heck yes I would as long as I could keep my health insurance. It’s a given that my salary would be lowered, but the opportunity to spend more time with my child would definitely be a blessing. I would rather my headstone read “World’s Greatest Mom” than successful business woman, any day.

JJ

August 11th, 2010
9:20 am

I wouldn’t say it killed my career, but I definately got overlooked in the promotions. Because I had a child, and my hours were strictly 9-5, other women in my office without kids got the high paying jobs, as they were able to stay longer at the office and travel for the company.

I don’t live to work. I work to live!!!

JATL

August 11th, 2010
9:23 am

Oh boy -this really hits home for me right now! First of all, I would have told the woman asking the question that actually, I considered myself incredibly successful because I was pulling off what few can do -working part time to have more time with my children and still making a decent amount of money. I would probably have also added some kind of dig about once you choose to become a parent, THAT is the most important job you’ll ever have or do, so if you’re making it a priority, there’s no way you should be considered a failure.

I think, more than it being a sexism problem, that this country has MANY problems surrounding labor laws and the workforce. Corporations and companies can obviously be very successful when all employees get 6 weeks of paid vacation, ample (months) of maternity AND paternity leave and an “open to ideas” mentality about things such as job sharing, part time plus, etc. Currently I’m trying to figure out a way to successfully present my proposal to start working from 8:30-2:00 instead of 9-5 in order to pick my kids up earlier, not have them in aftercare and spend more time with them. I have no doubt that I could get everything done I need to in that time, and I DO have an aftercare option I can use at any time should I need to with deadlines or extra projects. I think it’s sad though that I’m almost afraid to broach this; I don’t think it will cost me my job, but yes, I’m afraid at what thoughts it may put in people’s heads! However, with my current schedule, I feel like I’m spending almost NO quality time during the week with my kids -especially my youngest. Hearing yesterday that he starts getting highly upset when other parents come to pick up their kids earlier almost killed me.

I’ve said often that I think the most desired and best situation for mothers OR fathers -at least one parent -is to be able to work part time and make enough money to justify the childcare and bring some home. That’s SO incredibly difficult! If you’re a doctor, a therapist, an attorney, a technology guru of sorts -someone who can bill at a high hourly rate -then you may be able to make it happen, but most of us need what I call part time plus (about 30 hours a week) or full time.

I don’t think any of these desires should be packaged as something bad for women or something that makes women undesirable in the workforce. At some point society in general, the employers and everyone is going to HAVE to realize that kids need parents who are around! These kids are the future workforce. If we want to curb societal problems with kids and teens, then we’re going to have to allow more flexibility for parents to be there for their kids. Go ahead and slam me all you want, but both parents cannot do it all well! I don’t care if it’s mom or dad, but at least one parent needs to have some flexibility and more time to spend with the kids than two, full-time working parents can usually give. If you have a job (teachers and some others do) where you work full time for large chunks of time but then have blocks of time off to hang with your kids -I think that’s great too. Some parents have shift work where someone is around the house during the day and someone at night -great. It’s very evident to me though that you cannot work full time, keep a decent house, cook meals to have with your family, work out yourself and maintain your body AND be a great parent who spends enough quality time with their kid. Some of that stuff has to go! If you have to work full time and you have no choice -then other things have to slide so you can be with your kids. Most women I know would LOVE the part time option if it paid enough. Most of us do feel like we’re not being the greatest parent we could be when we’re away from our kids from 8-5:30 or 6:00 and so busy on the weekends trying to fit it all in -kids, errands, chores, etc. that we’re always exhausted and run down.

DB

August 11th, 2010
9:28 am

Yes, it was an incredibly rude question — but, alas, it was not an unusual question. My response to people who asked me similar questions when I chose to leave a pretty high-powered job when my first child was born: “I would be a failure only if I didn’t do what I thought was best for my children and my family.”

I fully agree with a previoius poster: Woman’s liberation was supposed to be all about giving us a CHOICE of whether to work or to stay at home, or some combination inbetween. It wasn’t supposed to dictate that all women must take on TWO jobs — caring for a family and being a brilliant careerwoman. Women are often their own worst enemy, both being hard on themselves and being judged by other women — and it’s mostly because so many woman seemed hard-wired to be “pleasers” and depend on outside validation that their choices were the “right” ones.

THERE ARE NO “RIGHT” CHOICES. There are only choices that you make that are right FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY. And if someone else doesn’t agree with those choices — screw ‘em. I can spend all day telling you why I made the choices that I did, but my circumstances and the feelings that went into my decision-making process would be very different from someone else’s.

To respond to some of the other comments about what men worry about vs. what women worry about — can we please avoid a pissing contest on who worries more? My husband worries about things that are very different than what I worry about — and thank goodness he does. He never thinks about changing the oil in the car, but he is on the ball the minute funds needs to be transferred from A to B. That’s what a partnership is for — to keep life movin’ along together. Sometimes one has to pick up the slack for the other — but I truly believe that it all evens out over the long haul.