This afternoon, I attended a luncheon to honor our local YWCA's Women of Achievement. It was a lovely event, and absolutely inspiring that these women have managed to climb the corporate ladder and continue to give back so much to their communities.
Part of the festivities included short videos about each of the eight women. They talked about their careers, their employers, their worldviews, and their communities. Of course, they also talked about their families. 6 of the 8 women had children. One woman had a 4-year-old and a set of 2-year-old twins. When they showed the picture, the entire room (2000 people strong) started murmuring in astonishment. "Wow! She must be busy!" and "That's a lot of kids!" and "That's a lot of daycare money!" and "How in the world does she do it?!"
Being a working mother (albeit, not at the top of the corporate food chain, and only one child), I understand the struggles that they face. But as I sat there, I was suddenly very bothered by the fact that people were acting as though they were SHOCKED that successful women might also be successful mothers.
If it were an awards ceremony for MEN, do you think the revelation that they were also fathers would have been nearly as surprising? Do you think it would have set off chatter and awe and "How can they possibly do it all?" I feel like working moms are either expected to be Superwomen at everything or forced to choose between being a good mother and a good employee, while working fathers (or, "men," as we usually call them) are afforded a pass. There's no "I don't know how you do it!" for me when my husband has to travel out of town for business, but when I'm a plane ride away the Mr. Mom jokes and the sympathy come out in full force. I'm a horrible wife and mother, trotting off for a few days to work out of state. Oh noes! How will they ever manage????
One of the women also discussed how she convinced her employer not to kick her off the corporate ladder. Why is it even a question of "convincing" them? Why can't it just be a given that women don't have to be "kicked off" the ladder when they get pregnant? It struck me as sad, because we like to think that we've come so far in terms of gender equality and equal treatment. Sometimes I think we haven't come nearly as far as we pretend we have. Looking at the work-family rights afforded to parents in this country is enough to show that we have some effed up priorities.
Just felt like spewing some sociological discourse. It's been a while :)