Monday, August 29, 2005

Accommodating Parents in the Workplace

This piece is so fabulous I wish I'd written it myself. It's specifically about parents who are also academics, but is really applicable to all parents trying to combine careers and families.

Here's my comment:

Motherhood is not a "choice." Fortunately, we live in a time and place where women can choose when and if they'll have children, but reproduction is a calling, more so than a choice. It's a natural biological event which is the result of a natural biological urge. It's neither reasonable nor helpful to suggest that people should just stop reproducing if they'd like to have a respectable material existence or an intellectually or socially stimulating job.

Likewise, work is not a "choice" for most mothers. If you have a trust fund or marry someone very wealthy or win the lottery or don't mind the stress and hardship of "barely getting by," then I guess you can make the "choice" of whether or not to pursue a career. Most people who go to work every day are doing so to put food on the table, not because it's such a grand and glamorous thing to do.

To suggest that someone should "choose" to have a family or "choose" to go to work is simply absurd. The notion that cooking the bacon and cleaning up afterward is so much more noble for a woman to do than bringing it home is simply false (the "romance" of it all notwithstanding). A family-friendly workplace should be considered the norm, not a "perk."

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