I was all set to take a little break from the ongoing work-life balance/can we really "have it all" discussion. I'm frankly a little exhausted by the subject and by the effort it is taking to not take offense at some of the comments and posts that imply that women like me are bad mothers who haven't really bonded with their kids or losers whose careers are tanking or other such nonsense. So I only clicked on links from reliable sources, so to speak, and even then I didn't delve into many comments threads.
But then I stumbled across such good links on the topic this week! And I wasn't even looking! So I have to share.
First, Oilandgarlic has two excellent posts. One was on work-life balance at career levels below the stratosphere occupied by Anne-Marie Slaughter and Marissa Mayer, and even below the lower troposphere where middle managers like me live and work. I agree that the almost exclusive focus on the possibility of combing a high-powered career with motherhood is wrong, excludes the majority of working mothers, and misses a big part of the story of mothers in the workforce. The second was on how sometimes a little imbalance is the right thing. This one really resonated with me- people will sometimes feel sorry for me for not having more time for "me" and my interests outside career and family. But I don't want to pursue those interests more than I want to spend my time on career and family, and I've found a "me" hobby that fits in around the edges (writing), so I'm happy.
Next, I think I found this article about the trade offs we make and how that relates to the discussions of Slaughter and Mayer via TheMamaBee's twitter feed. It is a really good article, and I particularly like how the author frames decisions about career in terms of whether the reward is worth the trade offs, whatever those may be.
Then, Bad Mom, Good Mom had a couple of really thoughtful (and thought-provoking) posts on "the nanny issue". Go read both for some more thoughts on the work-life arrangements of those of us working below the upper levels.
Bad Mom, Good Mom references some research on work-life balance in her posts. Nicoleandmaggie have an interesting post up on some related research: they answer a question I asked about a paper on the impact of fertility timing on career outcomes, which made a bit of a splash when it came out. (Thanks for answering!)
Andie Fox, who writes the Blue Milk blog, had a good article offering an explanation for why some mothers reacted so strongly to Mayer's plans for a short maternity leave. I think she has some very good insights, but I have to say: I've been feeling more than a little squeezed by the way the conversation has evolved. And a little sickened by the way so many of the women in the various comments sections seem to be rooting for Mayer to fail. Are they rooting for me to fail, too?
Finally, I was struck by the contrast in the reactions in the comments to AskMoxie's posts about Marissa Mayer and Janet Evans (particularly given SarcastiCarrie's comment on the second thread about the volleyball player who got back into serious volleyball training 2 months post-partum). Granted, Janet Evans got back into swimming when her kids were much older than Mayer's child will be when she is planning to get back to work, but it still struck me that people seem much more comfortable with mothers getting back into sports, even at elite levels where training is essentially a fulltime job, than they are with women getting back into the corporate world. On the second post, people seemed to mostly agree that mothers- even of very young babies- deserved some interests of their own, their own "thing". Well, my "thing" is my work. (Incidentally, I feel a little bad for not leaving this comment on Moxie's thread, but I needed to cut myself off from that thread, because once I noticed this dichotomy it made me want to scream. Which isn't to say that I found anything offensive about either of Moxie's posts or SarcastiCarrie's comment- far from it. They were positive posts. It was the difference in responses from other people that jumped out at me.)
And continuing my slide into the more depressing links... I also really feel the need to share a few posts that really highlight the atmosphere in the tech/geek world that I mentioned in my post about Marissa Mayer:
First, there is an Ask Slahsdot post that is stunning in its ignorance and blithe assumption that casual harassment of a female team member is unavoidable. Apparently, some men think they need silly little games to remind themselves not to be assholes. Imagine how receptive the men in this department would be to a woman who publicly identifies as a feminist. The comment thread is one of the more depressing ones I've read in recent memory, although there are also some good smackdowns of the stupidity of the original question, from both men and women.
There was also a stunningly sexist article up on CNN about "fake geek girls," which I refuse to reward with a link. Scalzi has a good smackdown of that, but it is depressing that what he says still needs to be said, and it is depressing that if you read the comments on his thread, even some other women assume that typically attractive women need to prove their geek cred. Liz Argall, a women affected by this attitude wrote a very good post on the subject.
I'm sorry to end on a downer, but that actually feels appropriate given the cultural atmosphere on "women's issues" lately. It is clear that we've made a lot of progress. But we still have a long way to go.