Business Schools Target Stay-at-Home Moms

According to the Wall Street Journal's "Career Journal" some of our country's elite business schools are discovering the talents of stay-at-home moms. The schools seem serious about attracting moms to new custom-tailored executive education programs -- in large part because business schools, unlike law and medical schools, have had an extremely hard time recruiting women to their programs in consistently large enough numbers to bring the percentage of female students above 30 percent.

Finally, business schools (and large employers who traditionally recruit freshly-minted MBAs such as Deloitte & Touche, Citigroup and Booz Allen Hamilton) are increasingly showing interest in women who left work to raise children but are now interested in returning (see Sue Shellenbarger's Work & Family piece from February for more about corporate mentoring, networking, and training programs for re-entry moms). The Career Journal article reports that Harvard, Wharton, Dartmouth and other top b-schools are "[s]eeking to tap a pool of professionals who are of increasing interest to employers. ... The new courses aim to help women overcome the big gaps in their resumés with job-seeking strategies, and also to help bring them up-to-date on changes in their fields while they were gone." Program curriculums include finance, accounting, technology, recent business trends, resumé-writing workshops, interview skills and networking opportunities.

The article goes on to cite a survey of 2,443 women by the Center for Work-Life Policy, a New York nonprofit focused on work-family issues, showing that 93 percent of highly educated women who are out of the workforce want to resume their careers, yet only 74 percent manage to do so. Part of the problem is that rapid changes in many fields -- from securities laws to accounting regulations to technology -- have meant that women who take even a few years off can fall behind. My observation is that oftentimes the most insidious barrier is women's perception that we've fallen behind, even if we haven't, since confidence is such a critical part of a successful job search and career.

According to the article, the programs are expensive (Harvard's month-long pilot cost $3,000; at Dartmouth, the 11-day Tuck program will cost $6,000, including meals and lodging) and they require you to be away from your family for an extended period of time. However, some business schools are actively recruiting corporate sponsors to help defray costs and are exploring the possibility of companies endowing need-based scholarships.

Just as a regular MBA degree is a costly investment in yourself, for the right person, these programs could be worth it.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  July 26, 2006; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Moms in the News
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In a perfect world, we wouldn't have to worry about "gaps" in our resumes. If employers are recognizing there's plenty of talent out there in women who have stayed home with their children for a while, there should be no need for programs like this. Sure, there might be some need to get up to speed on technology changes, but the substantive work in business, law, accounting, etc., just doesn't change that much. Are these programs a way to look like businesses are being progressive, but are really another way to exclude ... a wolf in sheep's clothing?

http://punditmom1.blogspot.com

Posted by: PunditMom | July 26, 2006 7:30 AM

I'm heartened by the statistic that 74% of educated SAHMs are able to return to the workforce when they want to. We hear so many dire warning about how taking off even for just a few years is the death knell for any type of professional career, that it's good to know there's evidence to the contrary.

And these schools sound like they're on the right track. I hope more fields follow suit.

Posted by: NewSAHM | July 26, 2006 7:32 AM

Um, yeah, things change all the time. If you'd been out of accounting, law, or finance for five years, you wouldn't be able to help companies deal with Sarbanes-Oxley, which is the number one challenge for a lot of companies (in terms of accounting and reporting) right now. If you'd been out of health care you'd have missed major parts of the implementation of HIPAA and Medicare Part D, which impacts almost everything providers and insurers are dealing with. Those are two examples of things you can't learn overnight, and that would be hard to "keep up on" if you weren't actively working in the field. Given the choice between someone who's been working in the field the past five years, and someone who worked in it for ten years but took the last five off...I think the gap would be very significant to an employer and the person with the more recent experience would have an edge, even if they had less overall experience. The business schools are on the right track here. I disagree that in a "perfect world" we would only look at talent. Talent only gets you so far. Workers need current knowledge, too--I can't sell a client on five-year-old ideas.

Posted by: Arlmom | July 26, 2006 7:59 AM

I wish the women who take these courses well, but I would be cautious. When I began my return to the work force 16 years ago after 12 years at home, I was a newly minted MBA with a 3.95 average, and I couldn't even get an interview in the private sector. I joked that I would have been better off if I had been in jail for 12 years, since there were programs in place to help ex-offenders re-enter the work force. However, if you had committed the 'offense' of staying home to raise your own children, employers saw you as unreliable and uncommitted, and wanted no part of you. I wound up returning to government service (I had 5 years with the State Deparment before I left to raise my children), which has not resulted in the type of career I had hoped for, but is going to give me the advantage of retiring early with an assured pension, and the possibility of ongoing consulting work in my area of expertise. I know the upcoming labor shortage and the (slow) evolution of workplace attitudes about working moms should make the workplace more friendly in the coming years for women who have taken a break for childrearing, but I would caution women in that situation to leave the rose colored glasses at home when they begin their job search, and not to be surprised if they have to work longer and harder than the men in their offices to re-establish their careers (but then again, what else is new?)

Posted by: mommywarvet | July 26, 2006 8:00 AM

Harvard and Dartmouth sound good, but are there any local or not Ivy schools? My GPA was good, but not Harvard good.

Posted by: NewMom | July 26, 2006 8:14 AM

I bet your money is Harvard good.

Posted by: ToNewMom | July 26, 2006 8:19 AM

Other schools have caught on to this difficulty as well. A friend of our family was a SAHM until her husband left her - she then went to a partially subsidized technology program for "displaced homemakers" at the local community college and quickly found a good job. I think she manages a production line at a local biotech company now. (I'm not sure what her previous education or work experience was, but her kids were in their teens) There are a lot of good jobs out there that don't require an MBA, and a lot of local colleges that are very in touch with matching up people's existing skills and interests with niche jobs.

Not to put down the MBA program, though, it's nice that they're recognizing that people who've been out of the workforce aren't just wasting time. I imagine a lot of schools would turn down an applicant with a sizable employment gap for the same reasons an employer would.

Posted by: SEP | July 26, 2006 8:28 AM

Your local Community Colleges are a fantastic resource for those seeking to re-enter the workforce. Many times women DON'T want the same thing they left years ago. CC's enable you to retrain at an affordable price.

Posted by: Adding to SEP | July 26, 2006 8:46 AM

I too recommend caution with these programs. Many schools have added or ramped up MBA programs in recent years and they want your money! B-school educates students in strategic thinking skills and provides a broad overview of many areas in business. Most of the courses aren't technical and won't give you in depth knowlege of, for example, Sabines-Oxley. If you have stayed at home the past few years, you've probably maintained your general business knowledge, but need a boost with the more techincal aspects of your field, which is the opposite of what an MBA provides.

Posted by: MS | July 26, 2006 8:50 AM

I do think it's naive to believe that if you take a long period of time away from the work place, that your skills are just as good as someone else's who doesn't have that gap. I certainly believe women should make the choice that is best for them regarding working or staying at home and I think that SAHPs should be given a fair shot when re-entering the work force, but if someone has fresher, more current skills than someone who was away for 5/10/15 years and who didn't keep up to date on industry changes then the person with the gap is likely not the best fit.

Posted by: Burke, VA | July 26, 2006 8:53 AM

Back in 2000, I decided to look for a new job within the Internet industry. The one interview I remember quite clearly was the man who started the interview by looking over my resume and saying "You don't have certifications."

I thought this wasn't a good way to start the interview, so I replied that was true - and started in on the patter about my positive qualities and how much I'd learned on the job (yadda, yadda, yadda)

I was going to continue in this vein, but he smiled, quieted me, and then replied that he didn't actually *want* someone with a degree or certificate under their belt. He wanted someone with a proven track record (which I had).

Apparently, he'd already had to hire and fire three "certified" people in 6 months (including people with some fairly rigorous Microsoft certifications) because he found that while the people had been smart enough to get the certification, that was all they'd had. The "book knowledge" introductory technical skills they'd acquired didn't help them do the necessary work on a day to day basis.

I'm not slamming this concept...I'm sure Harvard and Dartmouth have excellent programs, and it's nice to see that higher education is reaching out.

But any SAHM's who have been out of an industry that's changed radically since they left it should think twice before sinking time and effort into a really expensive degree. That community college program for "displaced homemakers" that SEP mentioned sounds better.

Because, in reality, your college degree (even a graduate one) helps you get your foot in the door - after that, you have to learn all the ins and outs of a particular company, and if you weren't lucky enough to get an internship during your education, how a day in your industry *really* goes. A program designed to help bring SAHM's up to speed on the modern workplace is probably a better bet.

Posted by: Chasmosaur | July 26, 2006 9:07 AM

PunditMom,

I usually agree with your posts but I take full exception to your first post today. As a business owner and also a former manager at a company, I nee to hire someone with talent, but also someone who can be up to speed in a few weeks, not months. I still enjoy your posts tho'.

Posted by: other view | July 26, 2006 9:08 AM

Ya'know, I have been interviewing recently after having been out for around 4 years (SAHM). All of my skills might not have been used the past four years, but things haven't changed THAT much. Good grief, I can still manipulate data, run software, do analysis, write reports, research, etc. Basic skills never go away. Recent changes can be learned, and quickly.

Posted by: re-entering | July 26, 2006 9:12 AM

We may not see much of a change in 4 years, but over 8, 10, or more, things change a great deal in many fields, especially those taught by the schools Leslie mentioned.

Posted by: other view | July 26, 2006 9:16 AM

I have to agree with Chasmosaur - certifications and 'degrees' don't necessarily translate into a successful worker.

Those programs are expensive, and the assumption is that the Mom isn't currently working. Where's the money going to come from?

I think if you don't have a college degree then you need to get one.

If you do have a college degree or more and want to re-enter it's well worth the effort to check out community colleges. Many have programs teaching the skills employers in the area are looking for. Their career offices know the employers in the area and can be helpful in getting a person focused.

Likewise, a out-of-date professional might check out trade groups offering seminars. If you could get some training about Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPPA, or whatever the latest/greatest thing is in your area, then you can put that on your resume and hope if helps land interviews.

Status is a great thing, but it's price can be high.

Posted by: RoseG | July 26, 2006 9:21 AM

I think this is a good idea to brush up skills. And since the world changes so quickly, no one is up to speed on everything. It's silly for an employer to look at only certain specific skills and not realize that willingness and ability to learn new things are what is important - exactly the point - that things change quickly. So if you hire someone with a certain skill, that skill will be obsolete quite quickly, and that person will need to be willing to learn and adapt. That is one reason it's not as critical to know everything and taking time off shouldn't be seen so harshly - it hasn't been for me, in particular, but I have quite an obscure grad degree that allowed me to be qualified for positions that are hard to fill. Many employers, however, are short sighted and don't realize that if you can learn quickly then you are more valuable than others (assuming you have some of the skills they are looking for - employers aren't going to hire a writer for an engineering position, etc).

Posted by: atlmom | July 26, 2006 9:28 AM

A few of you disagree with my thoughts today. Do you really think women who, for example, were SEC attorneys (as I was for many years) would really completely lose touch with Sarbanes Oxley? Or that women who were in another profession would be totally out of touch with the developments in their professions? I really don't think so and think women need to be given more slack when coming back into the workforce. I have a feeling if a man took a couple of years off from his law practice, no one would blink an eye when he went looking for a job or ask about his "gap" or whether he could be up to speed in a couple of weeks.

(and 'other view' thanks for the kind words!)

http://punditmom1.blogspot.com

Posted by: PunditMom | July 26, 2006 9:53 AM

Quick comment:

"If you could get some training about Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPPA, or whatever the latest/greatest thing is in your area, then you can put that on your resume and hope if helps land interviews."

Don't know about Sarbanes-Oxley, but your company may teach you about HIPAA on-site. I was 3 years out of work with a new MBA and had never worked in healthcare before. My company taught me about HIPAA as part of orientation. So you may not need an outside program to qualify in these areas. (Also, I graduated with an MBA in May 2005, and I learned NOTHING on either topic in class.)

Posted by: AG | July 26, 2006 10:01 AM

As a "non-traditional" law school student, it was generally believed that women returning to school after a few years at home out-performed their LSAT and GPA predictors. There is some recognition that women returning to work are very motivated both in post-grad programs and in the workplace. As far as SOX and HIPPA, if the SAHM was indeed an attorney, and maintained good bar status, kept up to date with CLEs, I would not expect a few years at home to be a huge impediment.

It seems that multiple blogs have resulted in postings by SAHPs who work part time or spend significant time volunteering appearing to be the happiest of the lot of us. Another advantage to part time work would be lessening that gap on the resume.

A little research and reading prior to an interview should at least give the impression that applicant made the effort to stay up to date with her field. It seems to me this would go further with a prospective employer than completion of a pricey but perhaps not so relevant b-school program.

Posted by: SS | July 26, 2006 10:11 AM

Actually punditmom you're not exactly right. My attorney husband worked in government for 7 years in his field and wanted to look at opportunities back in the private sector, but had difficulty because he was "away" from the private world so long. I've known other lawyers to have the same problem including one woman who stayed at home for 2 years.

I agree with arlmom and mommywarvet's posts. Women who choose to stay at home and then go back into the workforce should be in at least a small way involved with their field's activites during their home time. Either through a trade group or other professional organization, participate in continuing education, network, etc. As someone who does hire, I would be more interested in someone who did these things during their "time-off" rather than someone who ignored their field. Even if you change fields, it shows interest in the working world.

Posted by: working mother | July 26, 2006 10:17 AM

"if the SAHM was indeed an attorney, and maintained good bar status, kept up to date with CLEs, I would not expect a few years at home to be a huge impediment."

This has not been what I have observed amongst my lawyer friends. Do you really think a woman who took off to raise kids would ever be considered for partner? Most women leave private practice and opt for other more time reasonable positions. For less money and prestige unfortunately.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2006 10:19 AM

I had a six year break in my career, raised 3 kids. In my previous life was a software consultant. I knew that my skills in IT were worth very little by the time I had been gone even a year. Heard a lecture by the Kauffman Foundation on women and entrepreneurship and decided to pursue an MBA. Didn't get into the top 10 schools, but did get a fellowship and admission at a second tier b-school. Networking got me an internship in Bangalore(yes took the 3 kids with me, helped that I am Indian but was still tough) and that lead to a full time job. Its been a year and I still feel I am catching up from my break. The work environment is key - if you feel valued and its a learning environment, skills can be learned, discipline developed. Not that learning isn't painful and at times I feel that those much younger than me are doing things much better. The years have taught me how to focus but juggling work and family still contains all the usual dilemmas.

Posted by: AlbMom | July 26, 2006 10:22 AM

I have a friend who's a nurse in a pediatric ICU and she told me these programs are routine in most the hospitals she's worked in. They desperately need nurses and are eager to have women come back after their kids are older. The administration knows there have been changes in technology and regulations -- so they routinely offer three week 'refresher' courses aimed at returning women who might not have worked in five years. I guess the point is that these women are in a field where there's a shortage, so this solution has evolved to fit it. Wouldn't be surprising if it eventually existed in other fields as well.

Posted by: Another Thought | July 26, 2006 10:23 AM

These schools are selling an 11-day, or month-long program as a way to help women cover a "gap" of at least a couple of years on their resume...does this smell to anyone else like a money grab, pure and simple? What could they teach you in 11 days that you couldn't learn yourself by having attended the occasional seminar, or simply keeping up with professional journals? Essentially, you're giving them a few thousand dollars for a rubber "Harvard" stamp of approval on your resume. Yet I am sure there are suckers...er, prospective returning non-traditional students...lined up around the block to sign up. And gullible employers ready to believe that you learned something extremely valuable in those 11 days.

Posted by: Brian | July 26, 2006 10:32 AM

Actually, Brian you may have a point. But it does fulfill a need for both returning women and the employer. It may even be worth the money. If it were between someone who didn't take any courses vs. someone who did, who do you think the employer would hire? We all (professionals) have to jump through hoops, become certified, boarded, licensed, etc. Do you think law school make someone a better lawyer (ok that was kidding). I think it shows good enterprenuralship on the part of these schools to offer such a think where there is a need.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2006 10:39 AM

>>>I have a feeling if a man took a couple of years off from his law practice, no one would blink an eye when he went looking for a job or ask about his "gap" or whether he could be up to speed in a couple of weeks.>>>

Does this have to be yet another Gender War topic? This statement is just plain wrong. In this large IT and Accounting company (fine, not law, but law still requires CLEs) we constantly grill applicants about their gaps, whether male or female. We routinely get middle-managers who made $$$ during the internet boom then took a year off either to frivolously spend, or to legitimately decompress. It is reasonable to ask someone who is about to be a Sr. Accountant why they thought it was reasonable to frivolously spend for a year. Regardless of gender.

Anyways, Punditmom's "feeling" that no one would ask a man about a gap in his resume is patently absurd.

Posted by: Nuts. | July 26, 2006 10:49 AM

It doesn't need to be "extremely valuable" to be worthwhile. It just needs to make you a "more" valuable hire than your competitors for the job you are applying for. If two former SAHMs were competing for a job, and one showed the motivation to do a course and try to get up to speed, etc. against a competitor who didn't, that could help the woman get a job. As for the argument that they're just for people who can pay for it, those are the breaks and I'd still probably hire the woman who tried to expand her knowledge base.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2006 10:50 AM

Nuts said: It is reasonable to ask someone who is about to be a Sr. Accountant why they thought it was reasonable to frivolously spend for a year.


Because it was fun? Because after working at breakneck speed in the dotcom boom it felt good to take some time to decompress?

I understand it's important to have up-to-date skills, I've never really understood why gaps in employment--whatever the reason and whatever the skills involved--are viewed so negatively. Life is full of interesting and valuable things to do. If it matters at all, potential employers would, I think, do better to ask people what they did during their time away from work, what they learned or accomplished, and how it might relate to the job in question.

Again, I don't dismiss the importance of specific skills and knowledge, but I am advocating the idea of taking a more imaginative approach. In most jobs, intelligence, willingness to learn, ability to get along with other people, and being reliable are the keys to success in the long-term.

Posted by: THS | July 26, 2006 11:00 AM

THS,
Actually employers look at gaps in employment not just for the reasons cited, but also to ferret out whether the candidate was fired, was in jail, etc. I can't imagine someone not being hired because they said they went to Australia for 6 months or even that a mother wanted a longer leave. It's the gap in years that is the issue for employers. If you've been out for 5/10/15 years, you're hard to hire. It may not be nice, but it's reality.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2006 11:06 AM

"Do you really think a woman who took off to raise kids would ever be considered for partner? Most women leave private practice and opt for other more time reasonable positions. For less money and prestige unfortunately."

What's wrong with choosing more time-reasonable positions and therefore getting less money and prestige? Of course there are tradeoffs.

The amount of work it takes to become partner is insane. I know a lot of men who have quit the partner track when their kids were born. And a lot of the partners I know never get to see their kids (caveat, I know some firms/ partners are different, blah blah blah). The point is that there are tradeoffs among power/free time/prestige/flexibility. If you expect all at once you will probably be disappointed. For me, I'm very much on the free time and flexibility part of the spectrum-- money isn't that important to me. Others may pick another spot on the spectrum, which is fine too.

Posted by: lawyers' friend | July 26, 2006 11:07 AM

No one really cares that I took several years off to raise my kids - but they always ask.

Part of asking, though, I think, is that many employers want you to be beholden to the company - they don't want you to be able to quit the job. They want you to need the job - so if you could take time off for a year, they know that you probably could yet again. And most managers don't like that idea.

Posted by: atlmom | July 26, 2006 11:08 AM

"Actually employers look at gaps in employment not just for the reasons cited, but also to ferret out whether the candidate was fired, was in jail, etc. I can't imagine someone not being hired because they said they went to Australia for 6 months or even that a mother wanted a longer leave. It's the gap in years that is the issue for employers. If you've been out for 5/10/15 years, you're hard to hire. It may not be nice, but it's reality."


Thanks for the response. I certainly agree w/ your last sentence, and your observations about things that might have gone wrong in the past is important too.

I also agree that a job becomes increasingly difficult the longer the gap.

Still, I'd like to see employers be a bit more flexible on these issues.

Posted by: THS | July 26, 2006 11:16 AM

Nuts said: It is reasonable to ask someone who is about to be a Sr. Accountant why they thought it was reasonable to frivolously spend for a year.

Because it was fun? Because after working at breakneck speed in the dotcom boom it felt good to take some time to decompress?

THS, I'm not saying that there are no good answers to the question, only that it's reasonable for an employer to ask. PunditMom stated that "no one would blink an eye...or ask about his "gap", which to me is just a ridiculous notion.

If it's a job where they value employees based on their knowledge and expertise (because that's what they sell to the clients), then it is always reasonable to ask about periods where the employee **may** have ceased learning things that are critical to the field. Regardless of gender.

Posted by: Nuts. | July 26, 2006 11:23 AM

THS,
I'd like to see that too. And even though someone criticized punditmom for saying that if a man took time off, he'd be more readily hired than a woman, she has a point. The workplace at most places is very sexist. Perhaps if she had said further that employers assume men need the job more than women to support their families, she wouldn't have been criticized. That a man is more reliable, needs the job more, etc I've heard over and over again.

Here are some of the sexist things I've endured just this year: 1) "you are rather young to be in your position, who do you think you are?" Just substitute, you're a woman, who do you think you are. I'm 43 and have been in my field for 15 years. Many males junior to me have been in the same position.
2) From a superior--"you're too nice. You need to be tougher and set expectations". This was said to me despite the fact that my department was the only one where I sat down with all of the employees with their written goals and objectives and I discussed their expectations. I created the forms that are now used by my organization. My take on this is "you're a woman, so you're too nice". 3) I asked a woman in a higher position than me what I was doing wrong to merit these comments and she said "nothing, you're a woman, you're smarter and men feel threatened by that."

I've been lied to, lied about, etc. At leadership conferences in my field, the women all have the same experiences. It's the glass ceiling, low expectations (we have uteruses so we may procreate and leave), and just utter nastiness from male colleagues.

I believe that this type of behavior, tolerated by leadership in companies, is what contributes to women leaving the workforce or seeking to start their own companies.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2006 11:30 AM

"And even though someone criticized punditmom for saying that if a man took time off, he'd be more readily hired than a woman, she has a point."

Jesus, that's not what Punditmom or Nuts said at all...

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2006 11:34 AM

maybe not exactly that, but the insinuation was that a man can take a few years off and a woman cannot:

"I have a feeling if a man took a couple of years off from his law practice, no one would blink an eye when he went looking for a job or ask about his "gap" or whether he could be up to speed in a couple of weeks."

The fact remains that she has a point. The workplace is sexist. Employers tend to have different expectations of women then men. I live this everyday. My boss makes comments about the pregnant women in my department all of the time. And he has said that he'd prefer we hire men....An employer would ask about gaps with any candidate, but the deathknell for a woman is saying she did it because she had kids. What punditmom has said has truth to it.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2006 11:47 AM

We keep missing the point that insofar as the "workplace" is sexist, not family friendly, etc. - the very ones who want it changed the most leave the workplace when they have kids! No, not everyone who leaves is in HR, but people can influence their groups within insitutions to be family friendly. It is not a lost cause.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2006 11:49 AM

To 11:49,
No, I do not miss the point. Some women do choose to leave the workplace when they have children. But there are plenty of us (the majority of working mothers) suffering for their "sins". As much as those of us who are career oriented try, it's hard to change entrenched opinions. I think a generation of male leaders need to die off before we see change in attitudes.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2006 11:52 AM

"I think a generation of male leaders need to die off before we see change in attitudes."

There are plenty of young men out there who believe wholeheartedly that every mother should be a SAHM. It's not as much a generational thing as people think.

Posted by: Lizzie | July 26, 2006 12:03 PM

I have found some changes in men's attitudes as their dauthers complete college and enter the workforce. There were three male partners at my former firm who acknowledged the demands on me as a working mom in a fairly objective way - i.e., leaving the office at 6, they expressed amazement that I would go home and make dinner and help with homework etc... whereas all they had to do was go home where their SAH wives had done all that. Two of them actually expressed that they hoped things would work out well for their daughters, in college or recent graduates, as they tried in the future to have both a career and family. So, maybe just maybe there is hope that another generation of working moms can make additional progress challenging their fathers' entrenched gender bias. Perhaps what men can't defend for their wives, they will be able to defend for daughters for whom they've paid college tuition!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2006 12:06 PM

"I think a generation of male leaders nemed to die off before we see change in attitudes."

Huh. Interesting. It's funny, because when the president of Harvard was going on about "innate" reasons for women not participating in sciences and math, the crusty old male leaders of the company I work for (a fairly well known academic institution) very loudly disagreed and stated that it was attitudes like that, not any "innate" reasons, that lowered female interest in science and technology. I can't wait for them to die off. Really. Seriously, not every workplace is sexist, and not every male manager is the devil. If you're really a great employee and you can't change their minds, try looking for a new employer instead.

But on topic: it's nice that these companies and schools are doing "refresher" seminars and the like, but for those of us who don't want to pay $6k for an 11 day seminar, community college is great. And if you're looking to do your master's, a number of colleges (such as University of Maryland University College) have online programs. It's a bit expensive, but if you know that you'll want to re-enter the workforce in a few years, that sort of thing might be a better investment than a few-days seminar, especially considering that your future employers likely give regular, free "refresher" courses on-site.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2006 12:11 PM

It seems to me that a profit-oriented company would place value on a new employee who is willing to work more for less money. Women are being targeted. Is this a bad thing?

Nuts, to attempt to answer your question about the gender war:
Today's topic is about business-minded get-rich quick schemers in conjunction with corporate interests, rounding up the plump group of vacation mommies to feed the corporate monster. Sounds pretty sexists to me.

I read the Wall Street link and had to chuckle a little. It contained the beginning of an article, and if I wanted to read more, I had to pony up $4.95. If you were gullable enough and followed the link, perhaps you will also want to purchase my book, "How Any Idiot Can Rise to the Top", which I haven't written yet.

Once again, women watch out! You are being targeted!

Posted by: Father of 4 | July 26, 2006 12:15 PM

My (cynical, unfortunately) sense is that the b-schools Leslie mentions are more interested in their bottom lines than in helping women reenter the workforce. I bet they see work-experienced, college educated SAHM's as a lucrative market ripe for the picking. Especially now, when the political climate seems to be shifting AWAY from providing extra educational support for women.(Anyone read the recent headlines about how women are outperforming men at colleges across the nation?)

Posted by: Friend | July 26, 2006 12:27 PM

It is fascinating to me, and incredibly revealing about the persons who populate this blog, that a potential opportunity like 11-day imersion classes can be warped into the same old complains of why this is discriminatory against SAHPs, why this needs to exist in the first place as there should be more opportunity for people returning to work, etc.

If you want to be a SAHP, I think that is great. More power to you. But there will be consequences to your decision. That's just the way the world works.

And if you want to go back to school and have the scratch and the time to pay for it, that's great. Education is a life-long process and I applaud anyone who chooses to follow that path.

It just seems to me that some folks here will look for any opportunity to cplain, cry sexism, and the like.

Posted by: Glover Park | July 26, 2006 12:37 PM

I work for a very large federal agency. There are many people who have been here for 25 years or more who are eligible for retirement (with a pension), but are still relatively young in their 50's. I know several people who are interested in retiring from the govt, but working elsewhere.

The IT department is huge and the employees have many different educational backgrounds. Intelligent people who lacked formal education were actually given a chance to learn and advance within the agency. Non-degreed employees could take a very difficult logical-thinking, mathematical aptitude test to be considered for computer programmer/analyst and budget/accounting positions. The IT department were selected people who did very well on the test to participate in intensive on-the-job training, both classroom (4 months) and mentoring. Intelligent people who lacked formal education were actually given a chance to learn and advance within the agency. Many of those people have been highly successful programmers analysts for 10,15,or 20 years.

Those who are interested in retiring and working elsewhere are having trouble finding employers who will bypass the MUST have bachelor's degree or higher to even have their resumes read. Many are women and men who 'balanced' their lives by working full time and raising children. Most did not further their educations because they had already 'arrived' at the career they were interested in and didn't want to take any more time away from their children and families.

So, these people who have many years of successful experience with no gaps in employment are having a harder time finding a new position than the college educated employees who took "time out" for whatever reason.

It seems that employers are using the education requirements as an easy way to screen applicants - easier than the old days of hiring based on education, experience, or a combination of both.

For those of you who might think that it was their choice not to further their educations, I hope that in 20 or 30 years you don't have fewer employment options because the requirements have changed. Maybe then a 4-year-degree or masters will mean nothing and a double PhD will be required to get a foot in the door to do what you have been doing successfully for years.

PS - many of these employees are willing to take a cut in pay to go elsewhere since they will actually have a pension to supplement their income. I think businesses are closing the door on people who would be extremely valuable.

Posted by: Slightly off topic | July 26, 2006 12:47 PM

Sorry - it should be "programmers and analysts"

Posted by: Slightly off topic | July 26, 2006 12:52 PM

"How Any Idiot Can Rise to the Top"

Hey I was going to write that book! My husband and I frequently wonder how idiots do rise to the top.

And to gloverpark---some of us "cry sexism" because it exists. It impedes the progress of many women. It is the underlying theme of this blog.

And I don't disagree that there are enlightened men who are bosses. I've had one or two. But if you go to any women's leadership conference, you hear way more stories of sexist male (and even female) bosses. My last boss was someone whose wife was a professional in a high level position who was suffering from sexism at her institution, but he still made sexist comments about people in my department ("what is it with these women getting pregnant", "why can't we hire more men", etc). Some men don't learn even if they have a wife or daughter who is a professional.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2006 1:02 PM

And to take this further, what we really need is to strengthen discrimination laws even for professional people (you always read about the blue collar workers who get justice, rarely lawyers, doctors, and business folks).

But with regard to the topic--these B schools see an opportunity and they jumped on it. It's the American way. I think community colleges and on line programs work just as well and maybe better.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2006 1:04 PM

"Maybe then a 4-year-degree or masters will mean nothing"

Talk to any recent college grad and you'll find this is already starting. Entry level positions in a number of fields ask that applicants have either two or three years' working experience, masters coursework, or both. How this is "entry level" anything is beyond me.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2006 1:05 PM

It seems as though there are two separate, but related, issues here: updating skills and knowledge vs making yourself a more attractive candidate on paper to improve your chances of getting in the door.

Actual substantive skills and knowledge can be obtained and/or updated in any number of ways, depending on the job -- outside training (the CLE example), in-house training (the RN example), community colleges, trade journals, seminars, etc. And somehow I doubt that spending 11 days at Dartmouth is really going to provide much by way of substantive skills (although a full month-long program like Harvard's might).

But an "executive MBA"-type program at Dartmouth or Harvard would certainly make your resume look better. First off, you get to put "Harvard" or "Dartmouth" on your resume. Personally, I suspect that a community college is likely to provide just as good, if not better, skills training in a number of areas. But Harvard will get you in some doors a community college never will (whether you really WANT to go through those doors is a separate question entirely).

In addition, I think what these short-term degrees are really attempting to target is the perception that SAHMs aren't devoted to their careers. There seem to be a number of employers (and employees, from some of the stories) who believe that if you've ever stepped off the standard path toward career success, you're not "dedicated" enough to your career. At least, at the big "prestigious" law firms that I have worked for/dealt with, any kind of non-traditional career path was looked at with skepticism. So even when a SAHM does come back, the mere fact that she took the time off is evidence that career is not the number 1 priority. Forking over $3K or $6K on a Harvard or Dartmouth program is a way to show on your resume that your career is important and that you are serious about getting back to it and pursuing it. Yes, there are other ways of doing this (and as discussed above, likely better ways of getting actual, substantive knowledge), but this is sort of a short-hand version that you can put front and center on your resume.

BTW, I do think that SAHMs (and SAHDs, as their numbers grow) get the worst of the prejudice in returning to work. If someone makes a bundle in stock options and then takes a year off to spend the money, or takes a sabbatical to explore another career, that's seen as more of a one-shot deal -- kind of like a "dang, I'd like to do that if I won the lottery" thing that doesn't necessarily reflect on dedication to a career (and isn't likely to happen again). But a SAHM has visibly chosen to put her family first on the priority list, which to some employers is practically a character flaw (note: NOT saying that those of us who WOH don't put family first -- but it sure doesn't show up front and center on the resume in the same way). So they presume the returning SAHM won't want to work overtime or travel and will just quit and rely on hubby if the going gets tough at the job. Basically, if you've already quit once because of the kids, and you still have kids at home, a potential employer may not be interested in your resume because they just presume that you'll do it again at the first opportunity. So a program like these might be one way to overcome that prejudice by sending a signal that you're committed to career advancement. Again, separate question whether you'd want to work for people with that kind of attitude.

Posted by: Laura | July 26, 2006 1:22 PM

Sigh, I wish I didn't have to "cplain" and
"warp" "a potential opportunity," but I'm on the blog, so I guess I have to.

The fact is that these business schools are in it for the money. They will make tons of money off this idea. Women (and men I guess) returning to the workforce are a great market for these courses, so kudos to the schools for catering to them. The creators of the program want it to work so that word will be spread and more people will sign up for the courses. So it's not in their best interest to just swindle people. You'll get an education and a leg up.

There is no doubt in my mind that community colleges and online courses can deliever the same information. But if you have the extra cash, why not get the little ivy league school stamp? Could it hurt?

In terms of sexism, I have a tough time applying it only to this program. Like commercials that feature women using their cleaning products, this college is focusing on a niche in the market. It burns me up that women are the main users of cleaning products and that women are mainly the ones who need help returning to the workforce, but that reflects a fact of life. I blame our society for these facts and not schools or businesses. Now if the schools were offering substandard education that was focused at women, that would be sexist.

Posted by: Meesh | July 26, 2006 1:27 PM

Friend, as usual I agree with you.

The fact that girls are outperforming boys in the academic arena seems reasonable to me. Girls are smarter than boys. However, in the business community, if women want to compete with men on an equal level, they are going to have to learn how to lie, cheat, and steal. Definately not a favorable female trait.

I consider myself extremely sexists. I think females are the superior sex. I also have to echo the sentiment on this blog that so many women express: In some respects, being a woman really must sucks!

Posted by: Father of 4 | July 26, 2006 1:31 PM

As a long time reader, I can't believe I am agreeing with Glover Park, but I am.

It seems like every single day, no later than 11am, no matter what the topic is, someone gets around to telling us why the male-dominated society is to blame for whatever hardships cause and perpetuate the topic.

Look, I am not saying that men do not still have advantages in corporate america, and that there are not men who are trying to maintain status quo.

But every day that the ladies of this blog show up and point the finger, acting as if there are no men working for change and acting as if old people, young people and racial minorities are not subject to similar or the same ceilings.

Look. There are some of us, younger, male, entry-level execs, who would like to be part of the solutions to these problems. It would give my organization a strategic advantage in HR (which is why I'm reading). But I refuse to continue to read under-informed speculative postings every day about how all men have it easier than all women and the implication is that we men all want to keep it that way.

There are better ways to spend my time.

Posted by: Nuts. | July 26, 2006 1:34 PM

Back to the original story...No one seems to have mentioned that going to school in some capacity (MBA, short courses, etc) is a great way to make contacts and network. Especially for someone who's been out of work for a while, for whatever reason.

I'm in an MBA program that's geared towards working adults (classes at night) and I've met so many interesting people in a variety of fields. The professors have a lot of contacts also.

You may be able to get leads on jobs and a good reference through someone you met doing a group project for class. It's a great opportunity!

Posted by: RB | July 26, 2006 1:37 PM

"Back to the original story...No one seems to have mentioned that going to school in some capacity (MBA, short courses, etc) is a great way to make contacts and network. Especially for someone who's been out of work for a while, for whatever reason."

Unless you're in a top tier b-school going full-time I'd be you dollars to donuts your contacts won't make a lick of difference in your career. I think moms should be very cautious about how they spend their time and money and do some real analysis as to whether b-school is really worth it for them in the long term.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2006 1:46 PM

I forgot to edit - should read "going full time or in an Executive MBA program"

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2006 1:47 PM

"But I refuse to continue to read under-informed speculative postings every day about how all men have it easier than all women and the implication is that we men all want to keep it that way."

Ok so get off the blog. Your take on some of the comments is way off. some of us are just revealing some of the obstacles to either 1) going back to work or 2) advance in our fields. The glass ceiling exists and just because you think women are as good as men, goody for you. And I certain take offense to the term "uniformed speculative" especially when a lot of scholarly work has been done that shows that women are discriminated against in the workplace and the glass ceiling exists. Some workplaces are more enlightened than others.

I agree with Meesh, Laura and RB's posts. They are informed and enlightened.

And Fo4, now now, I think we can be happy with women are as good as men. Saying we are better is a bit patronizing. But as always there is a kernel of truth to what you say--many women don't view the workplace as a war and to the winner the spoils....Again this may be why some of us leave it or find it easy to leave it.


Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2006 1:48 PM

Well, as someone with hiring responsibility, I think I would look the same on anyone who had taken five or ten years out of the workforce, man or woman. If you haven't been spending your time doing something directly related to whatever I'm looking to hire someone to do, it doesn't count, I don't care if you were raising a family or raising sheep on a hillside in New Zealand. (I don't know that a two-week or two-month B-school program would sway me a whole lot, either, but it is better than nothing.)

If you have some unique skill or something really in demand that you can be retrained for relatively quickly--like the nursing example--that's great. But if not, I would really think hard before completely extracting yourself from the workforce. There are plenty of whippersnappers out there who, if they are just as smart and capable and willing to learn, and have more recent experience (even if they have a little less total experience), are going to have an edge. It's not sexist, it's practical for employers. Why spend time bringing a 40-year-old up to speed when I have a 30-year old who's been doing X, Y, and Z for several years? (Not hiring former SAHMs because you think in the future they will be less dedicated is sexist. No argument there.)

Posted by: Arlmom | July 26, 2006 1:57 PM

'The glass ceiling exists' - it also exists for older men, not just women. Age discrimination exists, but many of you are still young and don't yet realize how widespread it is. I'm sure there is also still racial and religious discrimination as well as gender discrimination. It's not a perfect world. let's keep working on it.

This blog is full of many self-confident people. Does anyone ever consider their own personal limitations? Are we all really capable of rising to the top? I know that I am not, nor do I really want to.

I agree it's time to stop placing blame and just look at solutions.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2006 2:02 PM

Being a Harvard Business school alumni I have an insiders' perspective on these programs. The Harvard one started out when an HBS professor found out that a large percentage of our female alumni drop out of the workforce and would like to return but find it difficult to get positions similar to the ones they left behind. The program was set up not to retrain in terms of skills but more in terms of thinking through exactly what kind of career you would like to pursue and how to go about doing it. Like all things Harvard it is expensive because running the school is expensive - they have access to distinguished alumni and all the facilities. The executive MBA programs are much more lucrative than this so it's not a program that exists just because of the money making potential. I'm not even sure that it is open to non-alumni - last I heard it wasn't but I believe they would like to begin to offer the program to everyone.

Posted by: fabworkingmom | July 26, 2006 2:03 PM

Meesh,
Thank you so very much for correctign my typos and grammer. That is truly the hallmark of a cogent response.

I'm gratified that a couple of people are daring enough to agree with my point of view. Happy to have you on board.

But what makes me especially happy is that the word "solutions" is showing up in this blog today.

In the words of President-select Bush, Mission Accomplished.

Posted by: Glover Park | July 26, 2006 2:07 PM

I can't let that go.

1:48, If I implied that I thought there were NO worthwhile opinions on this board then that was unintentional. I also find Laura to be on point 99.99% of the time.

But your post is exactly what I'm talking about. You sound as if I'm saying there's no glass ceiling. I'm not. And, I didn't say "uniformed" [sic], I said "under-informed" (which, I suppose, is semi-redundant with speculative).

And if you refuse to comprehend that "I have a feeling if a man took a couple of years off from his law practice, no one would blink an eye when he went looking for a job or ask about his "gap" is a statement that is both under-informed and speculative, you're the one with the myopic view.

I think that with my present role it's my responsibility to attempt to learn from forums like these and I do believe that I'm also the type of difference-maker that this type of forum should seek to attract. But if the vigorous portions of conversation are more about gender-based rock-throwing and less about solution-finding, than I would rather follow your advice and leave, because I'm tired of being hit by the rocks.

Posted by: Nuts. | July 26, 2006 2:07 PM

Um Nuts, I think you are taking these comments a little too seriously (and if you are such a "difference maker" why are you wasting time reading these posts?)

Posted by: balls | July 26, 2006 2:16 PM

I agree with RB about contacts and making connections. I think ANY contacts you make are worthwhile. You never know who Friend X of yours might know...

I have advised my stepsons that one of the main reasons to go to grad school, other than the knowledge and degree itself, is to make contacts through the professors and other students. When I graduated with an M.A. in English from a good but not high-ranking state school, I already had a great job at a national magazine due to a professor giving me access to an excellent internship opportunity that turned into an actual job offer. This job could have taken me YEARS to get on my own.

Posted by: Mel B. | July 26, 2006 2:22 PM

Balls, you gave me the laugh of the day. that's why I read the blog.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2006 2:29 PM

"They are informed and enlightened"

"I think you are taking these comments a little too seriously..." "...you gave me the laugh of the day. that's why I read the blog."

Information portal or comedy blog? That's the question of the day...

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2006 2:46 PM

or mutual complaint forum.

Posted by: Glover Park | July 26, 2006 2:58 PM

The little guy is napping and my duaghter is engrossed in a very glittery art project. I must step away before my urge to clean infringes on her creatiivity. Does anyone else hate glitter?!

I think this idea of b-schools offering these classes is very positve. Professions that were and still are female dominated have had ways of welcoming women back into the work force for years. Many women take off from teaching and start back as a substitute. Many are able to "purchase" back the years that they took off for pension and retirement purposes. Nursing programs offer in house refresher training. And in social work, well they seem pretty desperate and are happy to have you back. As more women enter and have terrific success in traditonally male dominated professions I think that programs such as these b-schools will flurish. As this occurs perhaps more men and women will feel comfortable taking time off from work if that is what they want to do.

I am curious, does anyone know how countries that offer much more generous maternal and paternal leave acclimate their employees back into the workforce?

Posted by: Raising One of Each | July 26, 2006 3:03 PM

I do feel that these programs are a little bit of a money making scheme. Has anyone been targeted lately by the direct-mail advertising free tickets to attend a Women's Business Conference? Even though these programs have the names Harvard and Dartmouth attached to them, they are after-all not actually offering MBAs from these schools, just seminars. As other poster have already mentioned there are many ways one can show that they have stayed current while away from the workplace.

Regarding whether it is easier for a man vs. a woman to explain a work gap to a potential employeer. I find this argument absurd. Any employeer is going to be suspicious of someone who has taken time off from the job. I have actually found that most employers are satisfied with my answer that I took time off to have children. I do not think that an employeer would be more or less sympathetic to someone who decided to take off time because they were re-evaluating their options, going back to school, writing a book or were pursuing their interest in wine-tasting and travel. Please do not tell me that because child-rearing is so much more noble and self-sacrificing, it should be given special merit when considering a job candidate. The employeer has the task of trying to figure out which candidate can best do the job and stay committed to that job. For better or for worse, explanation of work gaps can offer some insight into a candidate's motives and values.

Posted by: dcdesigner | July 26, 2006 3:05 PM

dc designer, you're right on target. Nuts is nuts.

"The glass ceiling exists' - it also exists for older men, not just women"

No doubt there is age discrimination. But this is a blog of balancing family life and most of us have young children and are therefore "young" by your standards. If we decide to bring up this ugly issue of sexism, it is our right to do so without being criticized by the "nuts" on the board.

Posted by: 1:48 | July 26, 2006 3:29 PM

1:48,

That is totally bogus, unless you are allowing your definition of sexism to include anti-male in addition to anti-female discrination.

Having been criticized in the past on this board for only thinking about Stay at Home Moms, and not Dads, I would like to think that your concept of sexism is unisex.

No one is denying you a right to complain. Persons are just observing that there is a great deal of copmpalining and not much action. Which is an equally valid observation.

Posted by: Glover Park | July 26, 2006 3:38 PM

We also have different categories of careers we're generalizing about. Some change faster than others. Some use the same set of core skills and a fairly short overview of new procedures and requirements might be enough to "catch up" an experienced person (I'm guessing nursing?). Some have had major new twists pop up over time (like accounting?) that could require more in-depth training, but the day-to-day work may be mostly similar. Sometimes an entire field changes while you're gone (my mother's degree in Library Science was fairly obsolete when she went back looking - computers and the Internet occurred in the meantime). I'd expect my field to most likely just have a new set of tools and a new level of detail if I left for 5-10 years, but it could very well have an entirely different paradigm (engineering - these things do happen). Some jobs really change little if at all, and sometimes the difference caused by time and progress is really no more than the difference between companies and work environments.

The pace of change of "work" is hard to generalize, so a company's reaction to an employment gap may be discriminatory or it may be entirely justified. I would assume the best approach would be to know your field, and if you ever intend to go back, prepare yourself along the way.

(and unrelated - for anyone who states that a college degree is wasted on a SAHM, my mom's LS degree was great preparation for super-education-mom. She organized everything, instilled a love of reading, was great at answering little-kid questions, and knew how to teach us how to find any information we ever needed. "Look it up" could have been our family motto.)

Posted by: SEP | July 26, 2006 3:40 PM

"But this is a blog of balancing family life and most of us have young children and are therefore "young" by your standards."

My gynecologist yesterday told me he now helps women in their early 50s to have children! So, age discrimination can indeed a worry for those with even young children. Several women I know are having their first child at age 40 or over. That is also a time when you begin to get categorized as an "older" woman by many employers. Taking more than basic maternity leave to be with your child might create a double impediment to getting back into the workforce. I think these education programs can be very helpful to women, but as always "buyer beware". I took time off because I was just burned out and I am looking at a big career change. These programs and also the community college suggestion make a lot of sense.

Posted by: Getting old | July 26, 2006 3:50 PM

Is it not valid to say that statements like "we'll have to wait for a generation of male leaders to die off before we see change" and "I'll bet that men don't get questioned about gaps in their resumes as much as women" are sexist or prejuidiced statements?

Because they are. They're just as prejuidiced as saying, "All SAHMs are lazy," or, "All WOHMs neglect their children."

Bring up sexism, please - but don't try to ignore that so-called feminists can be just as sexist as the system they're fighting to change. Real feminists (both female and male) may disagree with each other on any number of issues, but none would stoop so low as to make such crass generalizations about a group of people like that. That sort of rhetoric doesn't belong in a debate on sexism - it *is* sexism, and there's nothing wrong with calling it out.

Posted by: To 1:48 | July 26, 2006 3:50 PM

Gloverpark,
You poor soul. You think that people are blogging for action? Give me a break. People are here to express opinions and to discuss issues.

And by the way, sexism in the workplace is almost always directed against women. Men almost always have the "upper hand" so what is this non-sense about discriminating against men. Nothing I've said was directed at or against stay at home men, dads, women or any such thing. My opinions and assertions were soley regarding the barriers to women reentering the workplace and the barriers to attaining leadership. Geez, some of you need to take a valium.

Posted by: 1:48 | July 26, 2006 3:56 PM

To to 1:48,
First of all, I did not make the assertion that men don't get questioned about the gaps in their resumes as often as women. I only used that to say that discrimination against women with children and women of child-bearing age exists. And it has been my experience that older me with stay at home wives tend to have differing expectations of women and so they need to go away and allow younger people to lead. Geez.

And how dare you call me sexist or any such thing? Feminism is so misunderstood by many that it has received a bad name. Any of you with a college degree has benefited from feminism. Any of you with a job has benefitted as well. Any of you who vote, own land/home, have a bank account owe your freedoms to feminism.

What a bunch of uptight kooks some of you are.

Posted by: 1:48 | July 26, 2006 4:02 PM

Discrimination in the workplace can be aimed at men (men who are teachers or daycare providers, gay men), so sexism can be directed toward men. However, in this discussion, I think it's fair to state that the issues that were raised (like reentering the workforce) deal mainly with women. And yes, they are rooted in sexism.

I agree that work gaps on a resume look bad for both genders, and I ageism works both ways too! The rule of thumb should be that, at some point in your life, you will be discriminated against. And that's not to say that we should all feel like victims. On the contrary, we should be empowered by that because we are all on the same boat and can still succeed.

Posted by: Meesh | July 26, 2006 4:09 PM

"And how dare you call me sexist or any such thing?"

Who dared to call you sexist?

Because I'm not seeing anybody calling you sexist at all here.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2006 4:15 PM

I'd love to think that these programs and the supposed recruiters are trying to help out SAHM's and others who are looking for more flexible opportunities. The reality is that they have just found a way to make more money without affecting their existing programs.

I earned my MBA while my daughter was an infant. It was a wonderful way to have more time to spend with her (and test the SAHM waters) while trying to advance my career. The end result is that I have struggled to find a decent job since. I didn't go to Harvard, but top-25 should have done it.

No matter how much lip service recruiters pay to their desire to hire intelligent, educated women, they still want it on their own terms. I looked at jobs at Deloitte, Booz and the other supposedly mother-friendly MBA recruiters. They may have pumping rooms, but they also expect you to travel 80% of the time or put in 80 hour weeks. Virtually none of my married female MBA classmates who got one of those jobs was able to stay with the job.

Posted by: visiting from Houston | July 26, 2006 4:25 PM

To 4:15,
You obviously didn't read To 1:48's post. Let me repeat the vile vitriol this person wrote:

"Real feminists (both female and male) may disagree with each other on any number of issues, but none would stoop so low as to make such crass generalizations about a group of people like that. That sort of rhetoric doesn't belong in a debate on sexism - it *is* sexism, and there's nothing wrong with calling it out."

This person has no clue what feminism is about is just an angry person

Posted by: 1:48 | July 26, 2006 4:33 PM

What you quoted doesn't seem to be any kind of vitriol. It just looks like the person doesn't like generalizations. I still don't see how the person's calling you sexist.

Posted by: 4:15 | July 26, 2006 4:42 PM

This person was insinuating that I was making generalizations and "it is sexism".

And saying someone "stoops so low" is vitriolic. Geez why are you defending this jerk? Maybe you are that jerk?

Posted by: 1:48 | July 26, 2006 5:04 PM

1:48 poster, there were two other posts that that one poster was referring to. Punditmom's post that said she wouldn't be surprised if men don't get asked about gaps in their resumes, and another anonymous poster's post that said a generation of male leaders need to die before a change can be made. Unless you're both Punditmom and the other anonymous poster, that post wasn't about you. Only directed at some of your putdowns. I don't think you're Punditmom, but maybe you're the person who thinks male leaders need to die? That seems way nastier and more vitriolic than saying that making generalizations is low.

Also, the person said that the rhetoric was sexist, not you?

Posted by: confused | July 26, 2006 5:54 PM

"I am curious, does anyone know how countries that offer much more generous maternal and paternal leave acclimate their employees back into the workforce?"

I know a bit about Canada. What I know about it is that the person who takes the leave's job is protected by law for the duration of the leave (if all the leave is taken by the mother it's 50 weeks). So workplaces are simply legally required to accept that person back into the same or a similar role (equal seniority, salary, etc.)

After that year's leave though, if someone stays home longer, all bets are off and I imagine it is much the same as here.

Posted by: Shandra | July 26, 2006 6:01 PM

To Visiting From Houston:

I work for Booz Allen and there are plenty of opportunities for MBAs that don't require travel 80% of the time. They're probably not the ultra-high-paying jobs consulting for the commercial sector, but you can make a good living here consulting for the government, and many many of those jobs require minimal travel or none at all.

Posted by: Lizzie | July 26, 2006 6:14 PM

(And the 80-hour weeks are few and far between.)

Posted by: Lizzie | July 26, 2006 6:15 PM

The second part of Laura's post about the perceptions of stay at homes returning to the work force is spot on, except for one small problem. She thinks employers are unreasonable for making these assumptions.

It's both reasonable and logical for them to assume that once a stay at home, always a dilettante worker. Given a choice between anyone reasonably competent and a stay at home re-entering, any employer would be a fool to take the stay at home. The only exception would be for very top level women, and then you'd expect to get them for cheap in most cases.

Stay at homes have had no management, no quality control, no deadlines that they don't set for their own convenience. They can't get fired for incompetence, and they haven't once depended on their own efforts.

Any woman who stayed at home because she could afford it should make it clear that that's why she stayed home--that is, she took "time off" rather than "went home to be a mom".

Worst of all is the stay at home trying to re-enter because she got divorced (the "displaced"). Why do you think they have special programs? This is a woman who not only has all the negatives of other stay at homes, but she doesn't even want to return to work. She *has* to.

Posted by: Cal | July 26, 2006 7:31 PM

to 1:48,

***The glass ceiling exists' - it also exists for older men, not just women"

No doubt there is age discrimination. But this is a blog of balancing family life and most of us have young children and are therefore "young" by your standards. If we decide to bring up this ugly issue of sexism, it is our right to do so without being criticized by the "nuts" on the board.***

The glass ceiling remark was mine. There was absolutely no criticism in my statement. I was only pointing out that there is still discrimination of all types and we should be working to eliminate all of it.

As far as your family balance and young children ideas, I didn't realize that this blog was only for people with young children. I am actually female and had my last child at age 35 when my husband was 46. At 50, he was the father of a 4-year-old and ran into age discrimination. That child is now 13 so I guess we don't have a right to participate in this blog according to you.

I really thought that people may be interested in various perspectives and experiences, and those of us who are older may have seen things that the younger posters haven't.

As far as feminism, as a teenager in the 70's (before you were born?), I learned that feminism was about women achieving equal opportunity, not being relegated to being an extension of her husband or only a mother to her children, but to become her own person who had options in her life. I think that time has shown us that women can be anything, but not necessarily all at the same time :). Feminism as I know it was never about overtaking men and kicking them out of their previously earned positions. Where I work, the upper levels are mostly white men, but to be honest, they are OLDER white men. When they achieved their positions, there truly weren't many women who were competitive at their levels. As this level grows a little older and retires, I believe that we will see a shift to more women in upper positions. But, it may take one more generation.


Posted by: 2:02 pm | July 26, 2006 10:12 PM

I think Cal's comment that an employer would be a fool to choose a SAHM is a good example of the kind of sexist assumptions that make this board popular. That assumption dismisses any work the SAHM ever did in her life. It's unnecessary and silly. Other posters made a good point, however, that time out of the workforce leads to outdated skills, and an employer must consider the impact of that on the applicant's employability.
I am a scientist. I left work because I found it inefficient to work with young kids: little kids are like time vacuums, and daycare is really expensive, so not only is it difficult to have time to do both your paid and parenting jobs properly, but you don't necessarily bring in all that much income doing it. There are logical reasons why a clear thinking person would become a SAHP. I think employers should recognize this reality and stop assuming that women (or men) who stay home for some period do it becuase (a) they couldn't hack the work world (b) they dislike working or (c) their brains can only work on the level of the kids they take care of. In order to fix the real problem of loss of skills, I think there should be ways to retrain women who are re=entering the workforce. Not necessarily government-funded. Maybe some of the WOHPs could invent some such retraining programs and sell them to us SAHPs!

Posted by: m | July 27, 2006 9:06 AM

"It's both reasonable and logical for them to assume that once a stay at home, always a dilettante worker."

Cal, you make a huge generalization and think it applies to everyone. For one thing, why do you think all SAHs choose to do so just to goof off or whatever you think they do? My friend is home with her child because her child is disabled. It was her intention to return to her career after her maternity leave, but as you pointed out in the adoption discussion, birth parents have to take what they are given, so in order to give her child the best care and the best chance to possibly live a "normal" life as she gets older, my friend has been "staying at home" and managing her child's therapy.

"Stay at homes have had no management, no quality control, no deadlines that they don't set for their own convenience. They can't get fired for incompetence, and they haven't once depended on their own efforts."

My friend has deadlines EVERY day of the week because her daughter has treatments and therapies. I'd like to see you manage the schedule that my friend has had, day after day, week after week, for nearly three years. You wouldn't last one week.

My friend was not a dilettante worker before her child was born and she won't be one when she returns to full-time work. Right now, as she tries to move back into her career by doing freelance work, she has worked 50-hour or longer weeks (because this is the nature of her career) when the couple's schedule allows. How is that being a "dilettante worker"?

Funny how you also assume the only SAHs are women.

Posted by: C.M. | July 27, 2006 9:54 AM

I was mulling this over last night, the question of upgrading skills and re-entering the workplace. It seems to me that a lot of the women I know (and myself) are choosing to become entrepreneurs as well. That's another choice beyond a business school bridging programme and deals with the (illogical) assumption that they are somehow less motivated than people who have sat in the same job for the past 3 or 5 years.

It also occured to me that if women were going into the trades in greater numbers they might have more flexibility than in the white-collar area - a plumber or an electrician, for example, can work weekends, and building standards probably don't change that extensively during a 3 or 5 year absence (although I could be wrong in that, I am sure). Something that the balance argument sometimes misses by focusing on a particular sort of work.

Posted by: Shandra | July 27, 2006 10:24 AM

I wouldn't advise anyone taking these short term "MBA" programs, or whatever they're marketed as. They don't carry the same weight with interviewers and they're very expensive. And most of the posters here haven't noted that the jobs at places like Accenture, Booz-Allen big accounting, consulting and law firms are not 8 to 5 jobs. They're not at all "family friendly", and it seems like that's the overarching theme here; my time in public accounting was 9 -14 hour days for about 4-5 months a year, NO days off from late February until 4/15, as well as deadline time. My last position was with an NGO, and the Booz-Allen consultants worked more than anyone, plus they traveled from Chicago (that's not compensatory time, folks). The few times I stayed until 8 PM, I ran into one of the Boozers going for the group's dinner (to be brought back so they could work and eat)at 8PM, as I was leaving. That went on for a month or so.

If someone wants to freshen up their skills, go back to a local school, take some online classes. If I were interviewing candidates, I'd pass over the ones with the Ivy League short courses in favor of someone who went back to Mason or UMUC nights and weekends. Just because it has a fancy name and costs a lot doesn't make it better.

Posted by: Been there and Glad I'm out | July 27, 2006 5:03 PM

"I imagine a lot of schools would turn down an applicant with a sizable employment gap for the same reasons an employer would."

Really? A lot of graduate schools accept traditional students fresh out of undergrad, some of whom have *never* had full-time jobs. Isn't that the biggest "employment gap" of all?

"female alumni"

Alumnae ;)

Posted by: Anonymous | July 27, 2006 6:48 PM

Cal, you crack me up. Not your intention, I'm sure.
A stay-at-home mom is taking time off????? I'd like to see you try to get through the "time off" of a typical stay-at-home mom for, say, a week. It's more like "time on" for 24/7.
No deadlines? No quality control? Seems like someone has no experience trying to cram tasks in during brief baby or toddler naps -- there's a quick deadline for you -- or trying to ensure that diapers don't leak. And that's just the easy stuff.
I've been a stay-at-home (briefly, due to medical necessity) and a work-outside-the-home, and no question, the latter is far easier. As my sister told me when she returned to work after having her second child, she had to go back to the office! She needed the rest!

Posted by: anon mom | July 28, 2006 3:29 PM

Hi -- I've been reading this with interest. I think it's great that these schools are reaching out to SAHMs. Another way to keep yourself current as a SAHM, is freelancing. My son is 9, when he was 3 months old, I went freelance (doing editorial work and graphic design). I was very frightened about the whole work/life/salary/childcare balance, but somehow I juggled it. (I had part-time babysitters, college students, I worked with their erratic schedules and they worked with mine.) When my son was 4, I divorced my husband and went back to work full-time the following year, having that dreaded "gap" -- but it wasn't such a bad gap because of my years of self-employment. In fact, my clients had given me a breadth of job experience I would not have had if I'd stayed at my old job. I got a job in the defense industry for a fantasic salary. I never would've believed it, assuming (wrongly) that such an industry wouldn't be progressive or hire a young mom or take single mom issues for flexibility seriously. They were great, I got promoted, and I've always been proud that I made that transistion.

Now life is funny. I'm remarried and trying to start a family again and considering the SAHM life. I'll keep freelancing... or heck, maybe look into a MBA now...

Posted by: tracy | July 28, 2006 6:11 PM

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