I once got into a fight with a guy I was dating about a woman balancing a successful career and a strong family life with kids. I was worried about how I would manage it all; at 24 I want a successful career but I may want to have kids in the future. His opinion was that I would make it work without considering all the societal factors that I have no control over. I worry about sacrificing my body for this little creature for 9 months (I really love caffeine, drinking, and being able to see my feet), sacrificing my time at work during the last months before giving birth and someone else getting a promotion, about a lack of sleep, about being able to afford a kid, about my future husband splitting all the parental duties with me, about having to worry about someone else before myself for the rest of my life. Sure motherhood is rewarding, but it’s not just motherhood I’m worried about.
Women have been in the workforce for over 50 years. It seems that we would have the work/motherhood balance thing figured out by now. But no. Women are now expected to be superstars at home and in the workforce while they still earn less than men; “white women earning 77 cents on the man’s dollar, African American women earning 63 cents and Latina women earning just 57 cents”.* Women with children make “7% to 14% less than their childless female peers”.* Women also are not getting help from their employers or our governing policies. Did you know that the United States is the only developed country without paid family leave?
This isn’t just about women though. Men should also be encouraged to spend time with their significant other before she gives birth and to stay at home with their newborn baby. Employers should provide paid family leave to both men and women. Taking care of a baby is not just a woman’s priority and many men probably wish they could stay at home, but don’t want to miss opportunities at work. Many families also have to deal with financial obligations and therefore only one parent can stay home.
Stay at home dads should not be made a joke of. Men need to learn to respect woman as their equals. It seems that too many men think parenthood is below them; that their job and title is more important than their love of family. Men, it seems, get to choose. Women, however, pick up the men’s slack. When he is not helping out at home, the woman cleans and cooks even after her own 8 hour workday. It just doesn’t seem fair. I hear jokes on a daily basis about a women’s position in life. It makes me angry. It should make the good men of the world angry. It’s not just a woman’s issue. Pretty soon, the wives, girlfriends, mothers, grandmothers, and daughters are going to get tired of doing all the work. How about they enjoy a cold one after a long day at work? How about the man make a sandwich? Women are expected to do it all, but we can’t.
What do you think about family equality in the workforce? Do you think you can have a successful career and home life? What do you think helps you to do this or would help you to have this balance?