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.
“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.
So lots of questions from these articles:
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?