Monday, August 20, 2007

Working Women Need a Wife (you've got to be kidding me!)

In an article in the Seattle PI today, New York times writer Shira Boss tells us that working women still yearn for a wife, an idea first proposed in an essay by Judy Syfers.

Today's piece informs us that "companies expect you to perform as if someone is at home taking care of everything for you". A fine gem of wisdom from Kim Kandy, president of NOW. The cute little cartoon that accompanies this piece tells us that "a lack of spousal support is an impediment to career success." The second page headline adds "motherhood penalty".

However, this piece also provides us with two clues as to what is really going on in the workforce.

Clue 1: A study using the Minnesota Twins Registry found that holding genetics and education constant (IE: removing them as the source of the difference), that married male twins made 26 percent more that their unmarried brothers.
My husband and I immediately looked at each other and said "Duh!". When a man is providing for his partner or family, his is more focused, dependable, and committed to the work he is doing. He's fulfilling his natural role as "provider". He's less likely to call in sick, slack off on the job, or make careless mistakes.

Clue 2: Ms. Boss points out that "many men are sharing the work of chores and child care with their wives, and some do it all as single parents, but women still generally shoulder a greater burden of household business (or fretting over how to do what is not getting done)."
Hello? This means that women are not completely focused on work!

Later in the piece she notes that "Even if the workload is divided, women complain that they are usually the ones organizing, juggling, and filling their head space with the daily demands of family life. That leaves less time and energy to focus on workplace tasks."

So do we still not understand why married women earn less than married men? Men put 100% of their focus and creative energy into their work while they are at work. (Sometimes, they put 100% of their focus and creative energy into their work while they are at home, which can make it difficult to have a conversation or even a relationship; but that's another issue...)

Women put much of their focus and creative energy into their home and family. Work is work, we tend to leave it at work. Family is family, and it tends to come to work with us, as we make 101 phone calls to arrange for play dates, fixing the gutters, shopping for school supplies, childcare, and new tires on the minivan. (The worst haircut my son ever got was interrupted about 50 times by the hairstylist taking phone calls from her daughter at home, mostly to say "don't call me at work." She explained that she had to take the calls, because if she didn't, the daughter would simply call the salon work number, which would cost her her job... Her inability focus on her work certainly cost her my return business!)

Here is a challenge for my fellow sisters. Today at work, do not make a single personal phone call. Instead, keep a log of all the personal calls that you need to make, when you get home from work. Then do us all a favor, and make those calls from home, rather than from the car on your way to soccer practice. (Of course, this is impossible, you will complain, because those people that I need to talk to will no longer be at work! How ironic.)

Least you cry "foul", please be aware that I am an entrepreneurial mom - I own my own business, thank you very much, and I'm juggling the same demands that you do: home, children, husband, elderly parents. My best employee is also a single working mom, and in three years, she has only left work to deal with childcare issues one time - and ended up spending the day that time at the hospital. When we are working, we are totally focused on work, because that's how we put the groceries on the table.

I think that it's time for women to learn to do a better job of compartmentalizing work and home. If that seems unreasonable or unfair, then you might consider doing some financial downsizing, as many women are, and staying home to take care of the household, kids, husband, and parents. After all, that is our natural role.


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