ESP Meets Academe
Marc and I are just back from the fantastic Council on Contemporary Families annual conference in Chicago. It's been a whirlwind couple of days of connecting with the leaders in gender research - many of our most admired mentors and fore-parents in gender equality studies were there in the flesh, and we felt honored to be among them. Some of the highlights for us were finally meeting marriage historian Stephanie Coontz (author of Marriage, A History), psychologist Diane Ehrensaft (author of Parenting Together), sociologist Pepper Schwartz (author of the dearly beloved Love Between Equals), Daddy Dialectic's Jeremy Adam Smith and Chicago Pop, Carolyn Pape Cowan and Philip Cowan (authors of When Parents Become Partners), Joshua Coleman (author of The Lazy Husband) and Deborah Siegel (of www.girlwpen.com). And we reconnected with our friends and mentors, Barbara Risman (author of Gender Vertigo) and Kathleen Gerson (author of the forthcoming The Unfinished Revolution: How a New Generation is Reshaping Family, Work and Gender in America).
We also spoke on a panel devoted to gender convergence, which is the idea that feminine and masculine behaviors cease to be separated by actual gender - as evidenced by such trends as women in the workplace, male caregiving, salary equity, etc. Some of the news here was less than refreshing - and points to how we're definitely not 'there yet' even as we inch closer. In our time at the podium, we focused on the good news that many couples are reaching for ESP even when our culture and our workplaces don't yet make this easy. And that ESP is far more about a dedication to equality and balance than it is about a focus on task division or getting men to 'do more' around the house and with the kids. It felt good to clarify these points, and some of our comments made it to an even wider audience - USA Today (many thanks to Sharon Jayson!).
Other topics at this jam-packed conference included work-life balance policies and their effect on gender equality, and gender issues in specific populations (e.g., African Americans, lesbian couples, Latina mothers/daughters, gender-crossing children, middle-school children, GLBTQQA2 youth - I hope I got that last term correct!).
We came away from the conference energized more than ever to spread the word about ESP. We heard from leading researchers that our philosophies match their findings, and this validation means the world to us. We made new friends and connections that will keep us busy for many months and years to come. We brought home a brand new book called Couples, Gender and Power by Carmen Knudson-Martin and Anne Rankin Mahoney (both of whom we met at the conference) that we can't wait to read.
Phew! How grateful we both feel to be a part of all of this!
To read more about the research findings presented at this conference, check out the CCF's press release entitled Unconventional Wisdom: A Survey of Recent Research and Clinical Findings on Gender, Families and Equality.