Working Mothers, Careers and Ambivalence: What Else is New?

8 years ago

How appropriate.  Here I am with my first post as a mid-life blogger and the wonderful, wise Morra Aarons, a CE herself, offers a report that tells us that "The 2009 National Study of the Changing Workforce (NSCW),
which polls 3500 U.S workers across all professional levels, shows that
"for the first time, young women want just as much to advance to jobs
with more responsibility as young men. Moreover, being a mother does
not significantly change young women's career ambitions."

I wonder, though, what lies beneath.  Aftere at all, was unthinkable.  For professionals it was bad for advancement and image; for hourly workers it was impossible.

I know a report is a report, but I suspect there's less than meets the eye.   I sent Morra's post to a thirty-something friend expecting her third child. Here's what she said: 

I still think women have to make harder choices with larger implications when they decide to have a family and begin the precariouis baolancing act of working and having a family.  I think it really depends.   am not sure how I think this study coincides with reality.  Maybe women who have kids and who have intense jobs are more secure about their decisions now, especially in this economy.

It's just different when you're doing it.  The blogosphere has been popping about this generally, mostly from younger women.  But those of us who've raised our kids have plenty to say about the compromises we faced.  Marcia Yerman expands the issue from caring for kids to the entire spectrum of care that so often falls to women in the "sandwich generation."   Former Planned Parenthood chief Gloria Feldt goes further, arguing that if the parity these young women perceive is really emerging, we need to fight even more intensely for politicies that enable effective parenting in working families.  This is backed up in a scholar's perspective by a University of Chicago Post Doctoral fellow (fancy, huh?) that concludes:   Put more strongly, our results suggest that improved work-family
policies or changes to social norms could drive labour force
participation rates of highly educated women closer to parity with men. 

Professor Joan C Williams of the law school at UC Berkeley says, on Moms Rising, that at some companies the economy threatens the policies,  like telecommuting and flexible hours that have developed to help moms work and stay sane.  Encouragingly, others seem to find these accommodations more valuable now.  I know what it would have meant to me, as the first woman in the CBS Newsroom to have a baby, to have had any flexibility at all.  Just a little, even.

OH, and here's a really interesting, contemplative post from Peggy Drexler about the daily choices working moms, and really, all moms, have to make between responsiblities in one sector and another.  In this case, it was split loyalties within her own family.  

Finally, my friend Kristina Chew, BlogHer and blogger at Autism Vox, writes about the additional work-family pressures that come when a child has special needs.

So.  We'll have to wait and see if the perspectives of the women in this report are borne out, if they will be able to push for enough change to ease their way.  

 

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