Category Archives: News & Commentary

This is NOT Progress: Americans Now Think 40 hrs is “Part-Time”

This is definitely NOT the direction we want to be heading. From Business Insider:

Americans consider a 40-hour work week as “part time” in most professional jobs and as a sign of a stagnant career, according to a recent study by the Center for American Progress.

Just as income inequality grows, so does the divide between those who have too much work, and those who have too little. We are a nation divided into the overemployed and the underemployed – a result fueled by the structure of our workplaces, our cultural attitudes about work, and increasing economic insecurity that pressures everyone to try to get ahead and stay ahead no matter what it takes.
And look at the jump the number of middle income and professional women working over 50 hours a week (3.4 > 8.3% and 6.1 > 14.4%), that’s the result of families increasing the number of hours the woman works in an attempt to make up for increasing fixed costs and stagnant wages for men.
On both ends of the income scale, we’re at the breaking point.
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Filed under Career-Life Fit, Economy, Fatherhood, Motherhood, News & Commentary, Workplace and Employment

Education Needs Remodeling not “Fixing”

Fast Company magazine published online an article on education reform How to Spend $100 Million to Really Save Education. An article I appreciate because it challenges the popular narrative around public education now such as “charter schools and strong MBA style leaders” are THE answer.

That same week I spent two full days in Los Angeles with committed teams of District and school site leadership from nine of eleven California Districts in the middle of implementing major transformation of their high schools as part of the California Linked Learning District Initiative. This initiative supports districts a system of college and career pathways in their high schools and is supported by ConnectEd The California Center for College and Career, The School Redesign Network at Stanford and The James Irvine Foundation.

The Fast Company article led to a Twitter conversation tagged #fixedu that I think is misnamed given the spirit of the article. The popular narrative is all about “fixing” and it frustrates me, especially given my time with these nine California districts this week. Here’s why. Continue reading

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Filed under Change, Education, News & Commentary

‘Flash Mob’ Serenades Retiring Principal: Get Your Tissues!

Guaranteed to warm your heart, and maybe make you tear up. From the Sierra Madre, CA Patch.

As if I didn’t have enough to cry about at our daughter’s 5th grade graduation this morning, this retiring principal at another school in our district was my husband’s teacher. We have tons of friends at the school now. What an amazing tribute to an amazing educator – and a reminder of the importance of principal leadership, and of the fact that, in the midst of all the contentious debate, a lot is going so very right with public education.

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Filed under Education, Kids & School, News & Commentary

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

Stay-At-Home Moms SHOULD Be Mad at the Fed

Today a guest post from my good friend and a tireless advocate for women, Debra Levy. Here she explains why a largely unnoticed new regulation reinforces the old “he who earns it owns it” assumption rather than the remodeled “family income and wealth are the result of joint work—both family work and employment—so they are owned jointly by both spouses” – with chilling effect on mothers’ financial well-being.

 

 

MSNBC was onto something the other day in their piece Why Stay-At-Home Moms are Mad at the Fed.

Our regulators seem unaware of how families divide tasks or how women work, or even what they earn compared to men, and a new move by them may penalize women and erode progress on women’s access to personal credit.

From MSNBC

It happens all the time. You go to a store whose merchandise you value, like and trust to make a family purchase, nothing for yourself. Jeans for your son. Underwear for your daughter, or loads of flooring for a home construction project at your area large box hardware store. You wait in line at the register and tick off the errands still on your list, that work email you have to fire off as soon as you leave the store.

You whip out your wallet to pay for your purchases and then the inevitable questions: debit or credit? Then, would you like to sign up for our [insert brand name] credit card and save 25% on today’s purchases?

I’ve done this once or twice. Store affinity cards can yield fabulous yearly discounts, exclusive to its members-debtors. Such cards are “marketing in a heart beat” for retailers, and sometimes they make our spending easier and more affordable.

Raise your hands, women and men of America, if you ever have opened a credit card account at a  point of sale transaction? Now, think back. When you did this, did you list “household income,” or “personal” or “independent income?” Continue reading

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Filed under Assumptions about Mothers, Economy, Family Work, Guest Posts, Money, Motherhood, News & Commentary

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

Shifting Attitudes on Marriage

Fascinating short Washington Post summary of the Time Magazine/Pew Poll on shifting attitudes toward marriage. Including this little tidbit listed at the end of the article that has major implications for workplaces, schools and families.

-About 62 percent say that the best marriage is one where the husband and wife both work and both take care of the household and children. That’s up from 48 percent who held that view in 1977.

Here’s the full Time Magazine article on the poll, Who Needs Marriage? A Changing Institution.

No surprise that marriage is changing – since everything else is. The changes in our economy that have led to greater inequality, the changes in the roles of men and women in the workplace and as mothers and fathers. All of it is undergoing sea change that will force us to remodel everything, including marriage.
Here’s the short version of the story of how my husband and I remodeled our marriage after we had our daughter and confronted our own outdated stereotypes about the roles of mothers and fathers – Remodeling Marriage: Our Next Wedding
For the full story, including the description of the event itself – our “next wedding” – pick up my book, This is Not How I Thought It Would Be: Remodeling Motherhood to Get the Lives We Want Today.

 

P.S. Here’s the link to the full Pew Report, The Decline of Marriage and the Rise of New Families.

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Filed under Fatherhood, Marriage, Motherhood, News & Commentary

Squeezed for Time? Manage Energy Instead

Photo by Leo Reynolds

Who is most squeezed for time these days? I can make a pretty good argument that today’s mothers and fathers are more squeezed than just about anyone else. In fact my book, This is Not How I Thought It Would Be: Remodeling Motherhood to Get the Lives We Want Today has a whole chapter on time titled Pits and Privates: Or Why Am I Obsessed with Saving Time? You’ll have to pick up the book to get the scoop on the “pits and privates reference, but here are a few bullets on families and time.

  • Families with two parents employed today are working 500 more hours per year than families with two parents employed put in in the late 1970’s.
  • Employed mothers today spend just as much time with their kids as non-employed mothers did in the late 70’s, and non-employed mothers today spend even more.
  • Fathers have doubled their childcare time and tripled their housework time since the late 70’s.

In this scenario, managing minutes becomes futile. That’s why I was so glad to see this post today on the Harvard Business Review‘s blog,  Six Ways to Supercharge Your Productivity from Tony Schwartz, author and leader of The Energy Project. I know it’s designed for a business audience, yet I get so much more value from Tony’s advice for managing family life than from any of my women’s magazines. My magazines try to help me manage TIME – tips for exercising in ten minutes, dinners in twenty, cleaning the bathroom while I use it. Tony’s advice contains research backed strategies for managing ENERGY. I quote his book The Power of Full Engagement in my chapter on time  and this post is such a great summary of the key strategies.

I find I can apply these strategies to both my home life and my employed life. I chunk my paid work into 90 minute blocks (sprinter) and am so much more productive than if I try to go for longer. I chunk my time with my daughter too – trying to fully engage with her and then let us both recharge and refuel in other ways.

How about you? Do you have strategies for managing energy at home and on the job? Does your workplace support these strategies for managing energy?

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Filed under Career-Life Fit, Family Work, Fatherhood, News & Commentary, Remodeling Motherhood, Time

Is a Celebrity Divorce in OUR Future?

David and I got a bit concerned about our own marriage this weekend when we read this New York Times article, Brant vs Brant: Divorce Celebrity Style,  and noted the uncanny similarities between us and the Brants. You see, Peter Brant is a billionaire with his own polo team and Stephanie Seymour is a former Victoria’s Secret model. Just like them, we’ve been married 16 years. Plus, David now works for a billionaire with his own polo team …and I’ve been wearing Victoria’s Secret underwear forever. Since we seem to be the very image of the Brants, I hope we can avoid a celebrity divorce ourselves!

We did share a good laugh. And laughter is good for the relationship right? : )

What do you do to take care of your own marriage? Is it getting as much attention as your relationship with your kids?

P.S. For more on this topic, check out my post Remodeling Marriage: Our Next Wedding.

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Filed under Marriage, Motherhood, News & Commentary