The Parent Excuse
The dynamic is familiar. Not the MommyWars but rather the battle cry of the childless against parents in the workplace. We can easily imagine a non-parent coworker rolling his eyes after hearing yet another reason why Mom or Dad has to leave early or arrive late to care for a child.
One such woman decided to capitalize on these opportunities by supplying a kit that helps create the illusion at the office of being a parent. Just set up your cube with the supplied artwork, a framed photo, or even a manufactured doctor's note and you have your ticket to head to the gym early, sleep in after a long night, or refuse to travel, yet again. This entrepreneur wisely does not accentuate the downside of such behavior - namely, lower pay (at least for mothers).
The Working Parents blog at BusinessWeek points out that moms looking for work get offered salaries $11,000 less than equally qualified childless female applicants. This discrepancy does not exist for fathers compared to childless men and, as a result, shows how our culture plays a role in nudging women to opt out of the workforce. Given the environment we currently work in, it takes extra effort to maintain equivalent careers for both partners.
If men decide to take a portion of the baby-punch on their careers, we might finally be able to free women to dedicate a bit more time and energy toward maintaining their professional passions (in equal step with men). Having two people working together to solve the family financial puzzle goes a long way to preserving the most important parts of both childcare and aspirations outside the home for each parent.
Oh, and I hope we reach the day when being a parent isn't the only excuse for not subscribing to overwork. Every one of us, whether childfree or the parent of 3 year old triplets, has valid reasons for being somewhere other than work - perhaps caring for other relatives, going back to school, and yes...simply having a fun and balanced life.