Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Article of interest..."Why Women Still Can't Have It All" - from The Atlantic Magazine

This is a big read but I utterly recommend you try to make some time to read it. Particularly if you are a woman juggling family and professional aspirations or contemplating when and how to embark on this stage in life.

I don't necessarily agree with all that is said in this article. She seems very focused on equating success with a high ranking position in your chosen field or industry and here I am in the midst of trying to understand what a 'good life' truly means, and questioning whether things such as salary and power really has anything to do with it after all. But she comes from a generation who probably felt the fullest freshest benefits of the feminist movement in terms of opportunities and changing attitudes in the workplace so it is also interesting to read about the new perspective she is now adopting based on her own experiences as a mother and as a high ranking public servant and academic.

It is my opinion that one of the biggest issues with woman achieving professional equality with men whilst also being able to choose to provide for their offspring as the major caregiver etc is the idea that equality in the workplace means equal to the traditional male provider stereotype. I still waste significant hours of my 'mothering time' struggling against this ingrained idea that to stop 'working' to be the primary carer of my children was a step down or back in my broader life plan. I also resent the thinking that chosing my 'children' over my 'career' was a priviledge and that while this decision might slow my professional rise, a bit of extra committment and some 'overtime' will help me make up for this career break when I do decide to return to the workforce.

But surely if we valued the role of parenting more, then stopping work in a corporate sense to take on the nuts and bolts of bringing up your offspring would not be described as a sacrifice or a break. I also specifically say 'parenting' not mothering because the role of primary caregiver for young children is still seen as a mother's duty but why can't the Dad be the stay at home partner. Equal rights and opportunities for all, in all aspects of our lives.     

So I think this boils down to valuing the role of being a hands on involved parent. This doesn't mean home schooled children with home made bread and organic vegetable soup for lunch, it just means prioritising the tasks associated with the job of parenting alongside those for which we would normally 'pay' for.  

What say you? How do you juggle the work/life balance idea? Why is work and life so often seen as two opposite states? and why does life so often lose out to work?  Would love some comments (all anonymous if you choose) - think this is a super interesting challenge for all of us boys and girls....(and cheers Kirsty for posting for this link to her facebook page in the first instance too!)

Hope you enjoy the read - look forward to hearing your thoughts too xx Rebecca