August 5, 2010

"Would anyone really care if primary caregivers didn't climb the corporate ladder as quickly as primary professionals if gender weren't involved?"

"Wouldn't that just make logical sense? If men more often take on the primary professional role, consequently working more intensely and taking fewer vacations than women, then they should be promoted more aggressively."


lyssalovelyredhead said...

Absolutely. Those who argue the opposite drive me crazy. If I want to progress up the ladder like a man, I need to act like a man. I need to be as professional as the man, as hardworking, as risk-taking, as intense.

Children, at least in their early year, need a parent to be very closely available to them. Even with daycare (which I don't think is a good idea), someone still needs to be available for sick days, emergencies, events, teacher conferences, etc. If you want to b that person, you cannot be a super-high achiever in a high-intensity field. It is not fair to expect your colleagues to pick up your slack if they don't ask you to do the same. Most very high achieving men who have children either have a stay at home wife, or one who works limited hours. Women need to accept that, if they want to be the high achievers, they need to have a partner who will be that available person.

If a couple wants children, they should decide who will be the career person, and who will put their career aspirations on hold while the children are still needy. More often than not, that person is the woman, but it is the couple's decision, not society’s. Women should stop acting like they are powerless against it.

- Lyssa

alwaysfiredup said...

Perhaps the problem is that most women aren't really given the choice of whether they would like to be the primary caregiver. They are often just shunted there automatically. You wouldn't believe how hard it is to get my husband to acknowledge that it is his job, at stay-at-home dad, to get the kids to the doctor or to get to the grocery store, much less do the lion's share of the housework. He thinks "primary caregiver" just means that he gets to sleep in late and play all day.

alwaysfiredup said...

"If you want to b that person, you cannot be a super-high achiever in a high-intensity field. It is not fair to expect your colleagues to pick up your slack if they don't ask you to do the same."

And if you don't have a spouse that is willing to sacrifice his career for yours, what then?

Christopher said...

At Hot Air, this would come under the heading "Bombshell Study"

Retriever said...

People wouldn't care as much. But the problem would still remain that many marriages go bad and end, and many caregivers end up poor.

I personally think that women should stay home with their children until they go to kindergarten, but realize that I was unusually fortunate in having a husband who could support me.

However, if one takes a longer perspective than 15 years, most women have a lot more productive years to give the professional work force after some years "off" raising kids (perhaps one hones certain skills?) than their husbands who have been slogging away the whole time.

Where I live, the working women who aren't rich enough to pay for help are exhausted and resentful (none of their spouses share equally in housework, whether they work or not).

Scott said...

Who cares.

Equal, gender-blind opportunity in career development will only happen when men can have children. Until then, it will always be "unfair." Most working people don't have a "career ladder" to climb anyway. They have a trade or an occupation that they work at as long as they choose to. Survival is not about getting ahead, it's about finding a niche.

Everyone's gifts, situations, ambitions, and abilities are unique. Everyone deserves respect for what they bring to the table. It's offensive to suggest that when a woman chooses to have and raise a child, it makes her "less than." Do any of us have anyone in our lives who is more noble and beautiful than our mother?

shoutingthomas said...

I read about two paragraphs of Megan McCardle's article.

It's about professional women in the highest paid professions.

In other words, it's total bullshit.

Most people don't have careers. They have a job that pays the bills. This is true for both men and women.

Frankly, I don't give a damn whether women doctors, lawyers and MBAs make more money. Nor is it an issue of much importance to very many people.

For Christ's sake, Ann, you worked at Sullivan & Cromwell, and now you've got a tenured job that doesn't demand that you work much.

Give it a break. You don't need any more. This carping about the quota system when you are already loaded down with pork... it's just nonsense.

alwaysfiredup said...

"most women have a lot more productive years to give the professional work force after some years "off" raising kids"

Unfortuantely middle-aged women just entering the workforce rarely get opportunities for the fast-track to corporate success. Those opportunities are reserved for the hungry young kids who have no domestic responsibilities, either because they are single or they have someone to look after the household for them. It would make biological sense for women to marry and have kids right out of high school, and then go to college and start a career. But big corporations very rarely react excitedly to a 30-year-old with a new B.A.

Scott said...

(Geez, shoutingthomas and i agree on something. Here comes the Apocolypse!)

The Drill SGT said...

The guy could have saved a bunch of digital ink by stopping once he got to line 2 with:

While women without children are holding their own against men, those who have children continue to fall behind.

case closed, nothing to see here, let's all move along now.

lucid said...

This is so absolutely true. It is an exploitation of men to not take into account differences in things like hours and years worked and number of years stopped out when comparing male and female salaries.

There have been so many manipulative, self-serving arguments made by women claiming that they are not being treated fairly.

On a different but related topic: On CNBC, Mark Haines once joked with his female co-host about a difference between mena and women. His female co-host then threaented to puch him in the face.

Guess who ws considered to be right and who was considered to be in the wrong.

victoria said...

If it were true, yes. But it isn't. Gender is always involved. No matter how evolved the husband is (and mine was) it still falls to the woman. I had a much higher pressure job and higher paying than my husband in the early years and I used a babysitter and my in-laws as much as I could, which was a lot. However, I had a boss for a while who didn't like women managers and made no bones about the fact that he preferred male managers over female. This was, ironically, after working for a man who loved women managers because he felt, even if we had to go home at 5:30 or 6:00, we put in a full day and then some, where some of our male counterparts dickered around all day and worked about 1/2 of what we did.

BTW, my daughter started preschool at 2 1/2 and just graduated from law school. Happy, well adjusted and loving. Daycare and after school care, if good, is invaluable.

Believe me, even today, 35 years after I entered the work force as a college graduate and a manager, gender still matters and is still a weapon.


c3 said...

And if you don't have a spouse that is willing to sacrifice his career for yours, what then?

The solution is simple:

If you want to climb to the top of the corporate ladder AND have children..

marry a woman

Synova said...

"And if you don't have a spouse that is willing to sacrifice his career for yours, what then?"

Then you don't have kids, which is right in line with your priorities.

You know... the equally sharing in housework and child care thing? That has more to do with who reaches their level of discomfort first. It's not really fair to complain that the stay-at-home person, whoever it is, doesn't clean house or meet expectations of involved child care of the person who is not at home.

victoria said...

lyssa, I suspect that you have never worked in a male dominated profession. Acting like a man gets you nowhere. I worked in sales in the mid to late 70's when I was the only woman in a group of 14 men. It was not to my advantage to be like them, it was to my advantage to be like me. I was hard-working, risk taking. These are not just the rights of men, they are the rights of women, too.

And, shoutingthomas, as usual, you are full of it.


lyssalovelyredhead said...

And if you don't have a spouse that is willing to sacrifice his career for yours, what then?

Then you either sacrifice part of your career or you don't have kids (that rule woud be the same whether the spouse is a man or woman). It's not your co-workers' responsibility to work extra hours (without getting corresponding extra pay/promotions)just because you have a relationship problem.

Are you seriously arguing that your male/single co-workers, who almost never ask you to cover for them, should cover for you every time your kid has a doctor's appointment or whatever, and you should all be equally compensated?

c3 said...


I've had several female physicians tell me

I wish I had a wife

edutcher said...


Gender roles, responsibilities for raising children, marriage...

Where have I seen this?

WV "glamma" Style and elegance on 7th Avenue.

Scott said...

So if you as a female work in a male-dominated profession,

Do you accept that your choices have put you there, and deal with the disadvantages on their own terms?

Or do you rely on legislative and legal remedies to "level the playing field"?

lyssalovelyredhead said...

lyssa, I suspect that you have never worked in a male dominated profession.

You suspect wrong. I'm a lawyer. I've watched lawyers work and interact. I've watched people in every profession from server to insurance agent interact as well.

Acting like a man gets you nowhere. I worked in sales in the mid to late 70's when I was the only woman in a group of 14 men.

It's not the 70's anymore. Things have changed quite a lot since then.

It was not to my advantage to be like them, it was to my advantage to be like me. I was hard-working, risk taking.

Then you were acting like successful men (and women). My calling that a male behavior was just a shorthand for women who complain about men getting ahead. You should act like the people who get ahead, be they men or women. But if you're complaining about the men getting ahead, you should act like the men (who are getting ahead).

The job you described was not like the issue here. You had a bad, sexist boss, who didn't care how much you worked or not. This issue is: Should a woman who has childcare responsibilities which cause her to miss a significant amount of work time get the same pay/promotions as a person who has no such responsibilities, and thus works a lot more? The answer to that is a clear and unequivocal NO.

c3 said...

Remember those old hair color commercial for women that said:

You CAN have it all

Well men learned a long time ago you can't have it all.....

That's why they get married.

shoutingthomas said...

Gay marriage, rich women demanding even more perks from the quota system, black mass murders blaming their white victims and calling them racists...

Jesus fucking Christ!

It's an explosion of vicious spoiled brat hysteria!

Please God, make it stop.

traditionalguy said...

The re-distributers should take women's career opportunities and hand them out equally among all sentient living beings. If it is not done this new way, than it is an artifact. Thus spake Zarathustra. If computers don't recognise gender, then why should society. Men, women, Man-women, and woman-men are declared to be unfairly taking rewards from computers and a few Chinese workers who are doing all the work anyway.

RuyDiaz said...

Thoughtcrime. Obviously a thoughtcrime.

bagoh20 said...

But you can't climb the ladder with your legs crossed.

Retriever said...

I think one thing that gets lost is the reality that not only do more Americans have jobs than careers, but that all middle aged people are likely to be laid off (some permanently) whether they are male or female. And that people end up improvising. My marriage started out traditional with my spouse the breadwinner and me at home caring for kids. But thru a series of unexpected events I've ended up the breadwinner for 13 years, not in my profession but in a job I took for the sake of the health benefits (we have a disabled kid). I tell my kids to always have a back up job skill to earn a living with if the profession can't pay the bills.

There are 5 women in my office with unemployed middle aged husbands, formerly professional. I am struck by how these women do not bemoan their families' misfortunes but do what is necessary to keep them afloat. The men will not settle for lesser jobs, but the women do, and so they are employed. The other thing is,tho, that the women draw their identity from many places besides their job, so it isn't such a big deal.

Every now and again I get bitter when I see peers from college and grad school on TV or in the press for some great work, but I will never regret staying at home with my kiss when they were young. On their deathbeds most people are thinking about their family not their work, anyway.

Big Mike said...

Shoot. Today I agreed with FLS and now I have to disagree with lyssa. This is not my day.

Friend lyssa, I've known couples that were able to engage a reliable and capable babysitter, and the kids turned out just fine. It didn't work for us, and after we fired our third babysitter my wife decided to take a break from her career. It depends.

What I'm trying to say is not to try to plan things out to a fare-thee-well. Life happens.

BTW, how has your job search gone? I hope successfully?

Big Mike said...

Bless your heart, lyssa, while I was typing the last comment you posted a response to Vicki which is dead on the mark. Now I get to agree with you again. Smiles and happiness!

Yes, back in the 1970's things were different. My wife, studying for her Ph.D., was not given time on the cyclotron to run her experiments because she'd just be taking a job away from some fellow who needs to feed his family (a direct quote). I'd like to see what happens to a professor who says that today!

The least effective manager I've ever had was a woman who had started out in the 70's and her manager wouldn't let her have the title of scientist or engineer because only men could be scientists or engineers. (Like you need external genitalia to operate a slide rule? Maybe that's why I had trouble with my own slide rule all those years ago!)

But that woman let her experiences warp her entire life. She never could work with male subordinates and all of the best of us found ways to transfer to better bosses -- sometimes also female but without that chip on their shoulders. In the end she had only a team of people no one else wanted plus new hires. She didn't meet her goals, and eventually she was gone.

There's a lesson there.

shoutingthomas said...

Ann, if you don't stop with the quota bitching, I'm going to tell your readers in some detail what it's like to be an associate at Sullivan & Cromwell.

You know, starting with the no-show summer job when you're in your last year of law school... a job that pays in excess of $125,000. Two months spent attending baseball games, operas and dinners at posh restaurants.

Few people have had their asses as thoroughly kissed as an associate at Sullivan & Cromwell. I worked in IT at the other NYC law firm mentioned in the same breath as S&C. I know.

Where in the fuck is this "discrimination" that you claim you suffered? Your bio as you've described it is:

o Screwing around for quite a few years at the arts until you got sick of the BS

o Drifting around in low level jobs

o As soon as you decided to get serious, you were accepted into law school

o On to Sullivan & Cromwell

o Soft, cushy tenured job

Now, I don't have any complaint about this bio. You're a certainly good person. But, what in God's name is your bitch? Don't you know when to stop?

Lisa said...

This isn't about primary caregivers because women who only take off 6 weeks maternity leave still suffer. Men should be required to take paternity leave.

obibong said...

victoria, in your story about your two bosses, were we supposed to think the one who didn't like female managers was the bad one, or were we supposed to take away that they were equally awful, given that the other had incredibly stupid, counterfactual and sexist ideas about women working harder in a shorter time than men? Were you complaining about both of them? I certainly hope so.

Ann Althouse said...


1. Look at the dates. I wasn't a summer associate. I was a first and second year associate.

2. How could I have gone straight into a tenured position? I had to *get* tenure. Do you think that's easy? Try raising young sons and getting divorced within the untenured period too.

shoutingthomas said...

Try raising young sons and getting divorced within the untenured period too.

Well, shit, life is tough.

Try raising two daughters through the deaths of their mother and stepmother.

I did it.

Synova said...

"This isn't about primary caregivers because women who only take off 6 weeks maternity leave still suffer. Men should be required to take paternity leave."

That wouldn't do it.

The men would have to take paternity leave *and* a substitute for the hormonal soup women endure during pregnancy as well as interrupted sleep cycles for at least the four weeks leading up to the baby's birth.

Different people have different experiences, of course, so I can only relate my own experience. I could *work* while pregnant if I didn't have to stand, and I could work hard, but I couldn't seem to retain new information. For a great many women pregnancy is both physically and mentally debilitating.

That may be unfair, but nature doesn't pretend to be fair.

stutefish said...

And if you don't have a spouse that is willing to sacrifice his career for yours, what then?

Then you married a douchebag asshole. How is your decision to fuck your career over anybody's responsibility but your own?

peter hoh said...

A friend of mine knew the personal side of most of the upper executives of a certain large corporation that frequently received high ratings from Working Mother magazine.

The basis for those ratings? The number of women among the upper executives.

The dirty little secret? According to my friend, none of the women in that upper executive pool had any primary care responsibilities with their children.

They either were married to an at-home dad, had a live-in nanny, or they didn't have kids.

Now, I wouldn't put it past him to exaggerate a little, but I suspect that there was a grain of truth in his comment.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

Thank you for your concern, Big Mike! I'm doing much better, I think, on the job front. I spoke with a fellow who had been talking about taking me on, and it turned out that he was more interested in taking me on as an independant contractor/do his extra work than as an office sharing arrangment (which was what I feared doing). It's still uncertain, because we don't know how much extra work there will actually be, but I'm not responsible for any costs and can work from home, and I can try to bring in my own work, too. Plus, I can say that I made partner, so hey, not too shabby, huh? I'll start the week after next.

As for your disagreement with me, I think you're right, to a degree. I was speaking overly broadly to make a point, and I understand that the best laid plans sometimes don't work out. (but all the same, those couples with the sitters still probably had to take some time out that the non-childcare having folks did not.) My main point was that you can't rely on someone else to take the responsibility, and not expect to give up some of the rewards.

Smiles and happiness!

Eric said...

And if you don't have a spouse that is willing to sacrifice his career for yours, what then?

Then you don't advance as quickly as your colleagues. Life is about the choices you make - if it's that important to you make sure you hash it out with your prospective spouse before you get married.

I don't think it's unreasonable for me to expect my 60 hour weeks will allow me to advance more quickly than the person who puts in only 40. I'm not really interested in why they don't put the extra time in.

Jennifer Anglim Kreder said...

If we had more flex time and were not wedded to our full-time (plus) jobs for health care, the consequences of the choice of who will be the primary caregiver in a two-parent household would not be nearly as dramatic. This has a tremendous "trickle down effect" (to quote the false attribution to Reagan) on our entire society.

I don't think anyone can "have it all", but our current rules are weakening both our workforce and our families. A QUALITY higher education, even in state systems, now is an expensive investment (and that is not likely to change even if we "let the market decide"). If we force women to choose either a career or children, eventually women (and their parents if they are contributing financially to their schooling) will "wisen up" and that choice will be made before the investment is made. I think we will be a stronger nation if well-educated people have the largest part in raising our children. That sure as hell isn't happening in most of our schools - public or private.

Let the arrows fly, flogging begin, choose your own gruesome metaphor....

lucid said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lucid said...

I do think that women have a whining gene.

Maybe it is just a tactic that they have discovered works well on men.

Research on responses to pain and verbalizations about symptoms consistently finds that women complain more than men do.

And women will almost always disparage a man who complains--thus their cliche riff about "men are babies" or "men are such little boys."

There is a deep unfairness in claiming equality in some areas while playing on differences to gain special advantages in others.

One of my pet peeves is the slut-style dressing that a lot of young women do in work and school settings.

Given men's normal and healthy responses to seeing tight curves, naked legs, and half-revealed, pushed-up breasts, dressing like that in a non-sexual setting is virtually a form of sexual harrassment of men. It uses sexuality and the imposition of sexual experience in order to gain an advantage for the the slut-dressed woman.

(Just to be clear--I love what I am calling slut-dressing in other contexts. But I do resent it when I can't look at a professional co-worker without having a sexual response because she is dressed for a fucking-date.)

wv: wookah-- a hookah for wookies.

DADvocate said...

Very few. Where I work we hire a handful of females in to white collar positions every year half or more are MBAs. They out number the equivalent males.

Within 3-4 years half or more of the females are working part-time, not at all, or on a "non-traditional" schedule which allows them to work from home and be with the kids. Everyone of the women, I've ever spoken to prefers this. They have a choice unlike what firedup says.

Men, on the other hand, don't have a choice. Every man I know of, including myself, that has asked to work a special schedule has been turned down. Blatant gender discrimination, but none of us can afford to risk our jobs. I'm a single parent with two kids living with me.

My company falls all over itself trying to please women but with men it's our way or the highway.

E Buzz said...

I'm convinced feminists just want to be the bully, they want that false image of men, the rich big shot abusive jerk, that they supposedly can't have.

I've met a few feminists and they were all bullies.

It's just another way of getting over on the man.

Anneliese Dickman said...

You know, I used to feel the same way. But then my IUD failed and I found myself pg with my third kid. You know, as much as my hubby wanted to, and even if his boss was OK with it, he couldn't gestate that kid, he couldn't give birth to that kid, and he couldn't nurse that kid. I felt totally trapped by my biology, for the first time in my life. Yes, sometimes we make choices, like I did with my first two kids and their impact on my career. But fundamentally, only women can be the "primary caregiver" for those initial months. That's not going to change. And so, I doubt the overall balance of caregiving to professional ambition will ever change.

Freeman Hunt said...

My gender needs to get over itself.

Freeman Hunt said...

Where does this idea that we're each owed a perfectly planned out life come from? Life is life. It's not a seventy year datebook filled out in our very best handwriting. We're forced to make choices. Also, things happen. Some things we expect, some things we don't. So it goes.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

My gender needs to get over itself.

I really hate when people respond to comments that they like with "THIS", but, well, THIS.

Freeman Hunt said...

Plus, isn't it anti-feminist to argue that women can only perform equally if given a bunch of special privileges?

"We are so totally equal."
"Yeah, totally."
"Our boss should give us special schedules so that we can be more equal."
"Yeah, and a bunch of paid time off."
"Yeah, and she shouldn't expect us to do as much work as the non-moms."
"For real."
"Isn't it weird that our boss became our boss without help?"
"Yeah, she's so mannish."
"I know. Gross."
"Long hours are bullshit patriarchal oppression."
"Definitely. We shouldn't have to work as much as men."
"I agree."
"Because we're equal."
"For sure."

Freeman Hunt said...

And if any career-oriented woman really does want a supportive, stay-at-home dad, I can think of at least two men right off the top of my head who would be great. So they do exist.

A marriage is a team. It doesn't do any good to have a team with four first basemen and nobody covering the outfield. Fill your positions.

jamboree said...

Would "anyone" suddenly start to care that primary caregivers are paid shit to less than shit for wages if gender weren't involved?

jamboree said...

Oh, and "primary caregivers" aren't always part of a marriage, so therefore not necessarily a "team". It's simply a very low paid job for a lot of people - primarily female, but male as well. The men are almost universally considered losers, are sometimes somewhat mentally handicapped, uneducated, etc.