I very vividly remember arguing with my women’s studies professor. I could not believe a modern American educated woman could complain about our opportunities and choices. We are the most blessed class of people to have ever lived, IMHO. We can take on men in the classroom, board room and bedroom, yet we can demand they treat us like ladies and welcome all the traditional acts of chivalry. Even after working in Politics, a classic example of a male-centric industry, I never doubted that myself or any other amazing woman I worked with could achieve anything we set out to. We could if we wanted to.
But the reality is, many women don’t want to. Many women reach a point in life – I blame the hormones – where they value their opportunity to be mother and they willingly choose to “sacrifice” career.
Girls increasingly outnumber and outperform boys in all areas of higher education, and are graduating with degrees left and right. In fact, social science is beginning to turn its concern to the poor boys being emasculated at young ages or left behind as their female peers accelerate.
But opportunity to succeed can’t change the simple fact that women are the ones who have both more of a physical and emotional investment in child rearing. Women not only have to spend time away from work to give birth to the children, but many women choose careers that will allow them flexibility so they can be more available to their families.
From an interesting 2012 article in The Atlantic
“a big part of the difference comes from an hours gap. The vast majority of male doctors under the age of 55 work substantially more than the standard 40 hour work week. In contrast, most female doctors work between 2 to 10 hours fewer than this per week”
Some might read that and think it is a negative for women. No way. It is another example of how women today really do have it made.This TED talk is so worth a watch and really explains very well that
“60 years after The Femine Mystique was published, many women actually have more choices than men do. We can decide to be a breadwinner, a caregiver or any combination of the two.”
I love this TED talk, for so many reasons. It highlights how modern dads, like my CEO, take pride in being an active parent, help around the house and even enjoy cooking – things not embraced by previous generations. It highlights that having a partnership where one is a caregiver and the other is a breadwinner isn’t traditional or old fashioned, it is functional and purposeful. It also has a few great lines in there, like “we need to re-socialize men.” 🙂
But mostly I love it because hearing this self-described feminist explain her ah-ha moment gives me hope that maybe my poor old women’s study professor has had her ah-ha moment too.
“I have come to believe that we have to value family every bit as much as we value work” Anne-Marie Slaughter
YUP! And when we do, we, men and women, really can have it all!