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Here's where we keep you updated on news about parenting as it relates to division of responsibilities, career versus home decisions, work/life balance, and legislative and grass-roots movements toward equality or better choices for families. We'll also throw in our opinions of life as equal parents in a nonequal world, regardless of what's in the news.

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Equality Blog

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Womenomics - Why?

I recently came across a Salon.com interview with Claire Shipman and Katty Kay, the authors of Womenomics: Write Your Own Rules for Success. The premise of this just-released book is that highly successful women should stop gunning for top-level careers to create a more balanced existence.

I haven't read the book. But, based on what I can glean from this interview and other web discussions, I'm not sure I'll love it. The reason is not that I disagree with much of their message. In fact, early in the Salon piece I was excited by this quote describing what the authors call the "New All -- enough professional success, balanced by time and freedom." That fits right into the ESP playbook. However, the title of the book gives away their perspective.

The article goes on to quote them in the next paragraph as saying, "We know the solution isn't longer hours at daycare or hiring more babysitters or asking our husbands to stay home. Because we're the ones who want more time -- for our children, our parents, our communities, ourselves."

Of course women want these things...but so do men. If our culture decides to solve the work/life time puzzle by re-enforcing stereotypical gender roles, I'm afraid the promise of the "New All" will ring hollow. Many couples have this arrangement now, but both partners may be missing out on just what the other has plenty of: either time with the kids or a rewarding career.

Now maybe Shipman and Kay don't actually believe their message doesn't apply to men. Maybe they just don't want to bother addressing us guys because, well, we don't tend to buy books. But somehow I think men need to hear their messages even more than women; it is men who have the biggest cultural barrier to stepping back their careers to make time for being with their families.

Let's not sell ourselves short. I'll be the first to wave my flag for careers that fit into our lives. Go for the lives you want! But why do we have to step backward to direct this to women only? And while we're at it, why does this apply only to top-level professionals?

Has anyone else read Womenomics yet? If so, let me know your perspective.


Blogger Amanda Shankle-Knowlton said...

Agreed! I read that article last week too but you beat me to blogging about it. Saying that a balanced life is something that only women with children deserve is a step backward, not forward. What about men who want to spend more time with their kids? What about childless individuals who would like to spend more time volunteering or taking classes?

Special treatment increases tension between women with children and women without children and reinforces that women need to be the ones to make adjustments to their careers to get children to their soccer games. A culture of employers giving concessions only to women with kids would likely lead to fewer of us getting hired in the first place.

9:22 AM  

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