Friday, January 20, 2012

Weekend Reading: The In a Hurry Edition

Wow, what a week. What a couple of weeks, actually. I've been positively swamped at work, so I haven't been out reading lots of things- I haven't had time for my usual lunch breaks! It should start getting a little better next week, I think. I have a bunch of links saved for eventual inclusion in one of these weekend reading posts, but lack the mental energy to assemble them into a coherent post.

I do still have a couple of links for you, though. Both, in their own way, are about the consequences of being female.

First, this post makes that the point that just because having kids correlates with career slow down for a lot of women, we shouldn't jump to the conclusion that the women in question chose to slow down and get on some "mommy track". In fact, there is active discrimination against mothers in the workplace. This is not anti-parent bias: fathers actually benefit from positive discrimination. There is more evidence than the study cited in these posts, too, but I'm too burned out right now to go find it. As I said when I tweeted a link to this post, this discrimination is one of the factors that keeps me from blogging under my real name. I don't want prospective employers who don't know me to Google me and find this blog. Which is sad, but true. I have other reasons, too, around the privacy of my children, but the career protection reason is an important one.

Second, Liz at Mom-101 had a post about little girls and nail polish that I really liked. Nail polish is not a big issue in our house- Pumpkin has a couple of bottles, and we paint her nails roughly once every few months. But that doesn't mean that I'm immune to the deeper issue of helping my daughters navigate mainstream femininity, so her post still resonated.

Happy weekend, everyone! I just got word that the last of the four big upgrades my team has been working on has completed successfully, ahead of schedule. So I think I will really enjoy my Friday Night Beers tonight, and maybe I can unwind a bit this weekend. I hope you can, too.


  1. There's something about nailpolish - paint you can wear on your body - that they just find fascinating. I don't wear nailpolish, on my fingers or my toes, but my 3 y.o. (boy) is in LOVE with nailpolish, so we bought him some and paint his nails (usually his toes) upon request. It's one of those things, like many forms of play engaged in by small children, that doesn't have an intrinsic meaning yet (ie, a gendered meaning - I would argue that it isn't necessarily about femininity at the preschool age, unless the drive to wear it is coming from outside, like friends at school). Anyway, it's an interesting issue to look at, especially for me since I only have boys.

    I completely agree with you about the punishment of mothers for perceived (or real) slow down. Mommy tracking is pernicious, and comes about for a variety of reasons, ranging from work discrimination to gender inequality at home. On the other hand, some mothers *do* want to slow down a bit. I cannot imagine working the kind of hours I used to work, that I "should" work, now that I have small children. I just don't want to do it. I actually can't - I think my whole body would break down into a liquid pool of collapse. But none of that means anything about how I feel about my career, its importance to me, or my level of commitment to doing my job. I look at my whole career as lasting 30-40 years and think, well a 3-5 slow ones isn't so bad. We all slow down for chunks of time for a variety of reasons, which I think I've said here before. The problem of course is the *perception* that having children destroys women's ability to function properly at work, and for ever.

  2. When I was little I used to go crazy with nail polish and make-up. My mom never made a big deal out of it, unlike a lot of other moms who forbid their kids to use it until age 14 or 16. Somewhere in middle school or high school I stopped.

    Yes, the discrimination against mothers/women is not just statistical discrimination, but it is also self-fulfilling.

    It irritates me that the labor economics textbooks still say things like, "because it makes sense for pregnant women to take care of toddlers" it makes sense for the WOMAN to stay at home rather than the man. Obviously Gary Becker and the labor economists teaching his class have never been pregnant. As my own labor econ prof pointed out, there is nothing more difficult than taking care of a toddler when you are pregnant, especially since things like lifting the toddler are contra-indicated.

    Since becoming pregnant my work days are WAY more relaxing than my weekends. I can handle being at the office for 8 hours, but not constantly "on" with my kid.

    (And, of course, that specialization of labor makes the most sense if both parents work and they hire someone who specializes in cleaning and someone who specializes in childcare. It's inefficient to take care of just one kid at a time.)


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