Friday, January 25, 2008

Family and Career

I clicking through some career columns on the WSJ, and ran across a piece on a law blog on a younger law associate who was planning on having her children in her 20s to increase her chances of making partner later on.

Erin Foley Lewis, a 28-year-old associate at Cadwalader. Foley Lewis (Wake Forest, Harvard Law) talks about how having an early start on having children might help her career.

“By the time I’m at a point in my career where I am going to be making partner, my kids are going to be old enough to be playing on their own and sleeping on their own,” said Lewis, who recently had twins. “If I had waited until 33 to have children, I’d have newborns at the time I would be up for partner.”

This is one thing I often think about. I'm still considering an MBA, which my new employer will help pay for after my first three months here. I'd want to finish an MBA before having a child (which is still not a definite), but I often wonder if it would be better to have a child earlier so that by the time my career takes off, I won't be looking after a newborn.

But if one trawls through the post's comments, one finds this insightful reply:

This is exactly why women who want kids should not be attorneys. She wants it all? Can’t be done, selfish B. If you want part time kids, convince your sister or brother to have some you can borrow from time to time, or just rent some for the weekend.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that this is a man writing. The misogyny against career women is definitely alive and well in this commenter. I wonder if this man is married and has children. I wonder if his wife is a homemaker.

I take great offense at the "Can't be done, selfish B" part most of all. Why must women who actually pursue real careers because they want to be labeled as bitches? Nate knows very well that if we have a child, I'm not planning on quitting working to stay home, and he supports that.

The other issue that Mr. Misogyny is ignoring is the option of the father staying home, or pulling for a flexible schedule to help with childcare. Women who leave at 5 to pick up the kids are labeled as being unfaithful to their jobs; men who leave at 3 to see their children's soccer games are labeled devoted dads. Women who take maternity leave are often pushed out of jobs; men who become new dads get promotions and raises since they are now "supporting a family." So if a man wanted to work part time and help raise his children, I'm sure he would be much more accommodated than a woman who wanted a flex schedule.

Why must we always go around and around in circles on this issue? Men are qualified to take care of children. Mommy shouldn't be the default position for women. And employers need to throw the anti-mother standard out of the window.

1 responses:

Norcross said...

While I agree that it's a double standard, there is a specific concern with women attorneys. My wife is am recent law school graduate. We had our first son in August. Most firms are looking for attorneys to work 50-60 hours a week (minimum), which isn't an option for us. And few offer flex time, since most clients and courtrooms don't offer flex time. Almost every attorney I know, male or female, worked an ungodly amount of hours in their first few years, which certainly isn't condusive to a family life. Not to mention the student loan burden.

Not to mention, motherhood is a full time job in it's own right. There are numerous things that, while I would have no problem helping with, I just can't do. And when the child goes through the "mommy" stage, forget it.

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