On and Off Ramping
Lisa Belkin's column in this Thursday's New York Times (her column now appears every other Thursday rather than every other Sunday) explores the business school trend of offering a short course to women (and men, presumably) who have been home raising children but now want to re-enter the workforce. She also describes several forward-thinking businesses that are making it easier for talented mothers to return to their jobs after extended childcare leaves. This is a great trend, which I've blogged about in the past. It will be vital for companies not to lose loyal and hard-working employees to motherhood, as we enter a period of worker scarcity.
But I can't help but wonder if all of this is making it way too easy for families to keep the mother in the primary childraising and housework role. Yes, these benefits could technically be used by men - but they are realistically being built to meet the needs of women.
In my ideal ESP world, I'd like to see programs built around general workplace flexibility - especially the bountiful creation of challenging and rewarding reduced-hours jobs (with fair benefits and salaries) for men and women. I'd like to see both parents flex in and out of full-time work as they meet the needs of their children, their aging parents, their own dreams/hobbies and other non-work pulls. I'm not so happy seeing this happen only for mothers.