Part-Time for Men
Sue Shellenbarger's column in the Wall Street Journal today highlights a man who - gasp - reduced his work schedule to three days a week to be home with his kids. Unless my memory is short-circuiting (quite possible), I don't think I've seen such a story in a major newspaper before. At the least, the man-works-part-time storyline is exceedingly rare. So I'm sending out big applause to Ms. Shellenbarger for picking it up.
The man in her story worked in a standard corporate environment at the time he asked for reduced hours. No oddball job or academic workyear here. He was an electrical engineer, employed in a department of all men (all working full-time, of course). He approached his boss with the idea, which was borne of wanting his children to have more time with their parents, and got a lukewarm "we'll see" type of response. A month later, he was granted the arrangement on a temporary basis.
Fifteen months into the arrangement, the couple's third child was born and he chose to end his part-time gig. He was able to ramp up to full-time at work, and his wife became a SAHM. Hmm.... I loved the story up until that last part. I mean, I have nothing against families making whatever decisions that fit them best, but I wonder why this couple didn't consider the work/life balance they might have both attained in the long-run by two part-time salaries rather than a single full-time one.
Still, seeing this article in the WSJ is encouraging to me. It is a happy message (finally!) about how work flexibility can be used by men to gain more time with their children. Next, I would love to see a story about how men (and women) can reduce their hours on a permanent, not temporary, basis. Maybe someday, we'll even give ourselves permission to work less than full-time just because our happiness is well worth the paycut.