Category Archives: Gender Issues

A Woman’s Work on Economic Equality is Never Done

This blog is part of the #HERvotes blog carnival!

A divorced janitor, a 27-year employee and the mother of a seventeen-year old son with the mental capacity of an 18-month old, fails to report for mandatory overtime one Saturday when her son’s caregiver could not work because of a sick child. She calls twice and leaves a message for her manager. She gets fired.

As I read about this woman in Reshaping the Work-Family Debate: Why Men and Class Matter by Joan Williams, I wondered what this mother’s take would be on Jonah Goldberg’s proclamation in the Los Angeles Times this spring that “Feminism as a ‘movement’ in America is largely played out. Continue reading

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Filed under Assumptions about Mothers, Current News & Events, Economy, Gender Issues, Money, Motherhood, Remodeling Motherhood, stereotypes, Work-Life Fit, Workplace and Employment

Happy Father’s Day to All the Men Remodeling Fatherhood!

Sharing one of my favorite clips from The Evolution of Dad for Father’s Day, an interview with Dr. Michael Kimmel, one of the nation’s leading researchers and writers on men and masculinity.

“This generation, we’re fighting for the right of men to be equal parents and still feel like real men. Our children are going to take that for granted.”

Here’s to all the fathers I know and love who are making that prediction truer every day!

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Filed under Family Work, Fatherhood, Gender Issues, Parenting, Remodeling Motherhood

A Woman’s Work on Pay Equity is Never Done

Photo by Ian Britton at Freefoto.com

A divorced janitor, a 27-year employee and the mother of a seventeen-year old son with the mental capacity of an 18-month old, fails to report for mandatory overtime one Saturday when her son’s caregiver could not work because of a sick child. She calls twice and leaves a message for her manager. She gets fired.

As I read about this woman in Reshaping the Work-Family Debate: Why Men and Class Matter by Joan Williams, I wondered what this mother’s take would be on Jonah Goldberg’s recent proclamation in the Los Angeles Times that “Feminism as a ‘movement’ in America is largely played out. The work here is mostly done.” In a piece titled, “Taking feminism overseas” Goldberg goes on to declare that “Even the fight for “pay equity” is an argument about statistics, lagging cultural indicators and the actual choices liberated women make — to take time away from paid jobs to raise their kids (never-married women without kids earn more than men) or to work in occupations like the nonprofit sector that pay less.”

The only reason Goldberg and others can make this “choices” claim with a straight face is because the bias against women is no longer as overt as it once was– no more separate salary schedules for men and women. Much of the bias has gone underground, way underground, into our subconscious and into the unquestioned structure of our workplaces around the way men have typically worked in the past. Jobs are designed for a man who has a wife to care for family; 50-hour workweeks, mandatory overtime, inflexible schedules that can change at the last minute, and little or no sick time.

When mothers, who do still shoulder most of the responsibility for family care, find it impossible to fit this mold the resulting stories don’t sound much like “choices liberated women make.” They sound like discrimination. In fact, Williams and her colleagues at the WorkLife Law Center have documented a 400% increase in lawsuits involving family responsibilities discrimination “showing how mothers and other caregivers are pushed out of jobs they want – and need.” Continue reading

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Filed under Assumptions about Mothers, Career-Life Fit, Family Work, Gender Issues, Money, Motherhood, News & Commentary, Remodeling Motherhood, stereotypes, Workplace and Employment

Test for Stereotypes About Mothers

Given the recent article on Amy Cuddy from Harvard and subconscious stereotypes, I thought I’d share this excerpt from my book on how researchers identify these stereotypes (The Implicit Association Test) and the conflicting stereotypes that apply to mothers.

“Researchers from Harvard developed a simple type of computer test revealing that below the level of our awareness, we have associations between certain people and certain traits—a specific type of mental map they call implicit association. We may have a subconscious association between two things, say men and science and another association between women and liberal arts. The computer test asks us to pair words or images in those categories, and we’re supposed to do it so fast that it’s automatic. We hum along pairing male words or images with science words or images. However, if we’re asked to pair the opposites quickly, say women with science and men with liberal arts, it takes us longer—by seconds or fractions of a second. We take just a bit longer to consciously overcome our subconscious associations to give the right answer. The longer it takes us, the stronger the underlying association is. The stronger the underlying association is, the more likely we are to behave in line with that association and not according to what we say we believe.  We’d like to think our beliefs and behavior are totally under our conscious control, but our subconscious beliefs can differ dramatically from what we say we believe when asked. Continue reading

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Filed under Assumptions about Mothers, Gender Issues, Motherhood, News & Commentary, Remodeling Motherhood, stereotypes

Tips for Mothers for Busting Subconscious Stereotypes

In a recent post, How Stereotypes About Warmth and Competence Impact Mothers , I talked about the Harvard Magazine profile of social psychologist Amy Cuddy, The Psyche of the Automatic, which highlights decades of research on automatic stereotypes and their impact on many different groups. I promised at the end to share some tips for women and mothers in particular to combat these unconscious stereotypes that seem to leave us in a no win situation.

I best make good on my promise because the other day on the Fast Company blog the post Why Women Should Flirt at Work by Alicia Morga summarized the results of yet another study,  “Women at the Bargaining Table: Pitfalls and Prospects,” which showed that women are in a classic double bind: “women may be perceived as competent but unlikable or as likable but incompetent.”

As the blogger tells it,

“The researchers found that both men AND women negatively evaluate women who do not behave in stereotypically female ways.

The choices then are these–work within the stereotypes or be careful in situations to not activate gender stereotypes.”

So let me offer a third option, bust the stereotypes. Continue reading

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Filed under Assumptions about Mothers, Gender Issues, Motherhood, News & Commentary, Remodeling Motherhood, Remodeling Motherhood Tips, stereotypes, Workplace and Employment

Guess Who Said This?

So can you guess who said this?

“The fault line between work and family [is] precisely where sex-based generalization has been and remains the strongest. . . . Stereotypes about women’s domestic responsibilities are reinforced by parallel stereotypes, presuming a lack of domestic responsibilities for men. These mutually reinforcing stereotypes create a self-fulfilling cycle of discrimination.”

Democratic politician? Liberal think tank?

Surprise.

It was former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, William Rehnquist, in a 2003 opinion.

Stereotypes about mothers and fathers impact families of all political stripes. What have you done lately to bust your own stereotypes?

P.S. Check out this quiz for some examples of the types of parallel stereotypes about mothers and fathers that Rehnquist had in mind.

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Filed under Family Work, Fatherhood, Gender Issues, Motherhood, Remodeling Motherhood Tips, stereotypes, Uncategorized

On Carpool and “A Market Punishing to Mothers”

I was about to go to sleep tonight when I thought I’d just quick check my New York Times app on my iPhone. There in the Latest News list was a piece by David Leonhardt – A Market Punishing to Mothers. My exhaustion from a day of trying to juggle caring for our 9 year old, helping out my in-laws, oh and yes, doing my job disappeared for a moment – replaced by giddiness that someone was calling attention to the economic challenges uniquely faced by mothers.

It’s a great piece. As Leonhardt says,

…our economy exacts a terribly steep price for any time away from work — in both pay and promotions. People often cannot just pick up where they have left off. Entire career paths are closed off. The hit to earnings is permanent.

The fact that the job market has evolved in this way is no accident. It’s a result of policy choices. As Jane Waldfogel, a Columbia University professor who studies families and work, says, “American feminists made a conscious choice to emphasize equal rights and equal opportunities, but not to talk about policies that would address family responsibilities.”

“Family responsibilities.”  Hmmm, I believe that term covers things like driving carpool to summer camp, taking three cell phone calls from the 9 year old at camp, calling to arrange overnight care to help my mother in law care for my recovering father in law, scheduling someone to come repair our washer that keeps staining our clothes, and then picking up carpool crew from camp. All while fitting in my job early in the morning, in between carpools, and late at night.

“Women do almost as well as men today,” Ms. Waldfogel said, “as long as they don’t have children.”

Yes, I’m with Mr. Leonhardt. It’s time to take the next step and stop just talking about policies that would address the family responsibilities both men and women have for both children and their aging parents. It’s time to DO something.

(Also see my April post on The Wage Gap Between Mothers and Everyone Else)

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Filed under Career-Life Fit, Economy, Gender Issues, Money, Motherhood

Caster Semenya Cleared to Compete as a Woman

The New York Times reported last week that:

“Caster Semenya, the South African runner whose track career had been in limbo because of questions about her sex, was cleared to compete as a woman on Tuesday by track and field’s international governing body, the I.A.A.F.”

I wrote about Caster – and a story from my own childhood – last summer when this issue broke. In  The Day I Was Miffed No One Thought I Was a Boy I tell the story of the day our girls fastpitch softball team was accused of being boys because we were too good. Despite rumors of exams that would involve “stripping,” that issue was resolved in a matter of an hour or so – thanks to my father – in a way that left us feeling stronger and having learned lessons in advocacy from watching my dad in action.

Caster on the other hand has been in limbo for 11 months…seriously??? Have to wonder if it would have gone any faster if she’d taken my advice…to hire my dad. : )

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Filed under Gender Issues, News & Commentary, stereotypes

Fave Father’s Day News and Notes

Happy Father’s Day!

My own father spent today coaching girls fastpitch softball back in Minnesota. Apparently they lost their first tournament game and then fought their way back through the loser’s bracket to win the championship today. I remember those weekends. And it reminded me of one of my favorite stories about my dad, also involving softball, one I told in this blog post a while back.

The Day I Was Miffed That No One Thought I Was a Boy

Now that the the Father’s Day itself is over, here’s some food for thought on fatherhood from articles and blog posts from others this past week.

And here are a couple from my blog archives.

Here’s to all the men out there remodeling fatherhood every day!

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Filed under Family Work, Fatherhood, Gender Issues, News & Commentary, Remodeling Motherhood

This “Toolkit for Women Seeking a Raise” Helps Remodel Motherhood

The New York Times recently published a great article called A Toolkit for Women Seeking a Raise. The article combines the explanation of the challenges women face in negotiating raises:

“We have found that if a man and a woman both attempt to negotiate for higher pay, people find a women who does this, compared to one who does not, significantly less attractive,” said Hannah Riley Bowles, an associate professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, who has conducted numerous studies on gender, negotiation and leadership. “Whereas with the guy, it doesn’t seem to matter.”

WITH what to do about it:

“So what’s a woman to do if she feels her work merits a raise? A new study concludes that women need to take a different approach than men. Women, it suggests, should frame their requests in more nuanced ways to avoid undermining their relationship with their boss.”

The article’s approach mirrors my own advice on this topic and others at the heart of my book, This is Not How I Thought It Would Be: Remodeling Motherhood To Get the Lives We Want Today. If mothers become consciously aware of the outdated stereotypes about mothers, fathers, money and work still running amuck, they have a better chance of navigating situations effectively. Continue reading

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Filed under Assumptions about Mothers, Career-Life Fit, Gender Issues, Money, Motherhood, News & Commentary, Remodeling Motherhood, Remodeling Motherhood Tips, Workplace and Employment