Fewer Women At Work

Amidst all the hair pulling (or rejoicing, depending on one's view) over talented, well-educated women "opting out" of the workforce to raise kids, the Washington Post's Business section recently ran Whither the Women?, an article filled with interesting facts about women's participation in the work force since World War II.

According to the article, 66 percent of adults work. Fifty-nine percent of women work; close to 74 percent of men work. According to some economists, the share of working women peaked in 2000 at just over 60 percent, providing fodder for opinion leaders on women's issues to start scratching their heads. A noteworthy example was Lisa Belkins' October 2003 New York Times Magazine piece The Opt-Out Revolution. Belkin interviewed several Atlanta mothers who reflected the United States Census statistics showing the number of children being cared for by stay-at-home moms had increased nearly 13 percent in less than a decade; at the same time, the percentage of new mothers who went back to work had fallen from 59 percent in 1998 to 55 percent in 2000.

What many missed is that since 2000, more women with children and women without children have left the work force. The share of women at work -- moms and non-moms -- has declined since 2000 not because more women are staying home to care for their families. In fact, the share of women ages 25-54 who say they are not working in order to care for children has actually declined.

Women aren't opting out of the work force -- the biggest factor, according to the Post article, is that women are simply retiring in greater percentages because of the large number of female baby boomers leaving the workforce as they age. The data shows that certainly, women take out more time, on average, to care for children and other relatives than men do; the so-called "biological gap" cited by one of the researchers.

So there's not necessarily a political or sociological "choice" at play here. No horrifying or heart-warming trend towards women choosing families over work in increasing numbers. Most women who want to work, or need to work, are doing so. And more men are caring for their children -- the share of men ages 25-54 who say they are at home to care for children has edged up slightly from 1990 to 2003. No need to pull out our hair -- or what's left of it.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  July 19, 2006; 7:38 AM ET  | Category:  Research
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I wonder if these figures include women who opt to start their own businesses.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 19, 2006 7:54 AM

Let's hear it for a news item that is based on actual data!

Posted by: randommom | July 19, 2006 8:38 AM

Nice to have some facts in this discussion! I also wonder how women like me are counted -- work-at-home part-time businesses like mine? Hopefully freelance writers are still considered part of the work force!

http://punditmom1.blogspot.com

Posted by: PunditMom | July 19, 2006 8:46 AM

Absolutely -- there are an increasing number of women-owned and women-run businesses. We are not invisible, and if we are to be successful, we *cannot* be invisible. The business model of old is evolving as women take the helm of their own businesses, whatever that business might be. Mine happens to be the law. I've been a sole practitioner for 99% of my 25-year practice. My practice is in high technology and intellectual property, and I'm successful.

We women business owners are decidedly *not* out of the marketplace!

Posted by: sooze | July 19, 2006 9:18 AM

Interesting data (yay, data!). That stat about women with and without children opting out really adds an interesting twist to things. I wonder if, in addition to baby boomers retiring, we're seeing some of the younger generations basically getting fed up with the corporate world and finding other options that aren't reflected in the study (e.g., starting their own businesses, working at home, etc., as other posters have asked), as some other articles have indicated.

I also suspect there may be a gender component here, in terms of how people react when they get po'd about the corporate options, because it's still more socially accepted for a woman to stay at home than a man. I was raised by a proud feminist and so always just assumed that I would work. But when I faced the Job from Hell (see my post on the "bad bosses" day), for the first time, it occurred to me that I COULD quit my job and rely on my husband to support us (and as I was 5 mos. pregnant at the time, the timing wouldn't have been bad). It was a HUGE relief to realize that I had an option other than continuing to suffer in an absolutely miserable job. Knowing my husband was there, supported my choices, and made a reasonable salary allowed me to quit and take the risk of telecommuting for my former employer from 1600 miles away.

On the other hand, when my husband's company later shut down, he toyed with the idea of going solo (he had just written a computer system and had three companies interested in buying it). But in the end, despite my encouragement (and salary), he felt the traditional male burden of supporting his family, and opted for another traditional corporate job instead of taking a risk and going out on his own.

The irony is, I now make more than him -- my telecommuting worked out wonderfully, and I am now a partner in my firm. He, on the other hand, has a reasonable job, but has never found the job that really fits him (I think he NEEDS to run his own show more than just about anyone I know). My husband and I joke all the time that when I make "X" level at my firm, he's going to quit and do woodworking all day (and his bosses are a little scared, because they know he can choose to walk at any time). And I keep encouraging him to look out for business opportunities that he might find more satisfying. But in the end, I just can't see him leaving corporate America -- he feels the traditional male burden of providing that steady paycheck. Which is strange to me, because he's not at all a traditional, conservative guy who believes in "men's work" and "women's work."

I realize that two anecdotes do not equal data. But if the two of us still react to those traditional gender roles, others likely do as well. That could be one reason why, when corporate life is annoying or unsatisfying, some married women might be more likely than married men to chuck it, either to stay home or to find some alternative, less mainstream employment.

Posted by: Laura | July 19, 2006 9:22 AM

I think the statistics haven't quite caught up with reality yet. Here's a microcosm of the macrocosm: I am a college educated mother of two in her mid thirties, originally from upstate NY and now living in SC due to a great job opportunity for my husband. Almost all of my girlfriends from high school (solidly middle class) and college (private) are at home full time with their kids. In my sorority class, all but two are at home. Two out of 14. I've worked at two Fortune 100 companies in the last 10 years, and women with children were leaving in droves, sometimes to return part time, but more often staying home. One of these companies was up North, the other was in NC. Most of the men I worked with had wives who stayed home.

So I'm just saying, my experience differs vastly with what the statistics are saying.

Posted by: Hmmm . . . | July 19, 2006 9:26 AM

Like several people above, I wonder if these figures include self-employed women. I also wonder if the percentage of women leaving includes women who were laid off and are still looking for work.

Posted by: AG | July 19, 2006 9:28 AM

If only retirement from a paying job could be equated with retirement from the millions of things women are responsible for!

My hope is that they're all pulling in good pensions and not retiring into poverty because someone else in their family needs them.

Posted by: RoseG | July 19, 2006 9:30 AM

I think Hmmm... makes a good point when she states that "I think the statistics haven't quite caught up with reality yet." That is my reality too. I am 29, and NONE of my friends with children (I can think of 8--all with JDs off the top of my head) are working now. They have all quit their jobs to stay home with children. I think my reality may be different b/c the statistics don't factor in race and class. I wonder what the stats are for white, upper middle class women. It seems to me that this group is leaving in droves.

Posted by: anotherarlmom | July 19, 2006 9:43 AM

'all with JDs off the top of my head'

and my friends with JDs and MBAs (and BAs) are returning to the work force after 10 or 15 years at home, with few problems! There are also a lot more part time professional opportunities available than there were when my son was born 18 years ago.

Leslie, or anyone, are there statistics on women who work part time, and self employed moms? I think those people may not be counted in surveys of working women.

Posted by: experienced mom | July 19, 2006 9:51 AM

I have also seen women friends with JDs leaving the workplace. BUT, I'm not sure that these anecdotal accounts are necessarily inconsistent with any of the cited statistics. Have upper-class white women with the financial resources to do it always left the workforce in greater numbers after having children? I think yes -- just look at the women with teenagers trying to re-enter the workforce now -- their numbers are pretty significant too.

Posted by: AnotherMom | July 19, 2006 9:52 AM

Laura:

Your comments are entirely in keeping w/ what Lisa Belkins says at the end of the NYTimes article Leslie linked to above.

That is, it's not entirely the draw of being a SAHM that prompts women to leave the workplace. It's the unsatisfying nature of work and the inflexibility of work. I think this is a really important observations, as it points the way toward developing options that are attractive to both men and women. As Belkins points out--and as some people have said here---as options become more available to women, they become more available to men too.

Would be interested in hearing others' comments on what I might call "the limits of satisfaction" available from work.

I encourage you to check out the Belkins article.

Posted by: THS | July 19, 2006 10:11 AM

Laura:

Your comments are entirely in keeping w/ what Lisa Belkins says at the end of the NYTimes article Leslie linked to above.

That is, it's not entirely the draw of being a SAHM that prompts women to leave the workplace. It's the unsatisfying nature of work and the inflexibility of work. I think this is a really important observations, as it points the way toward developing options that are attractive to both men and women. As Belkins points out--and as some people have said here---as options become more available to women, they become more available to men too.

Would be interested in hearing others' comments on what I might call "the limits of satisfaction" available from work.

I encourage you to check out the Belkins article.

Posted by: THS | July 19, 2006 10:11 AM

Hi all - thought this article might be interesting to many of you and it is even somewhat related to the topic:

Dismissing 'Sexist Opinions' About Women's Place in Science

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/18/science/18conv.html?ex=1153454400&en=65118c7d8bd21bc4&ei=5087%0A

Posted by: Megan | July 19, 2006 10:24 AM

Another thing that comes up in the Belkins article and that's also consistent w/ the experience of many people here is that it's the second child that brings the tipping point, i.e., the point at which women who are toying w/ being a SAHM take the step of leaving their jobs.

The cost of childcare for two, plus the strain of keeping track of the activities and needs of two small people of different ages, seems to make dealing w/ the strain of work less worthwhile and makes the downside of going to work more apparent.

Would be interested in hearing what others have to say on this topic.

Posted by: THS | July 19, 2006 10:24 AM

I think it's great that women are more able now than in my mother's generation to reenter the workforce after some time off while their children are young. There are definitely more opportunities for that now. My mother has said that she always worked b/c she was afraid that she would never be able to get back in if she quit. I don't think women today have to worry about that as much. It seems much more flexible than it used to be.

Posted by: anotherarlmom | July 19, 2006 10:27 AM

For me, my decision(s) to stay home with my kids have always come down to flexibility. I have loved my jobs, love the challenge, the appreciation, being really, really good at what I do, and of course, the financial compensation! I don't get the tangible rewards from being at home with my kids so much, but I no longer have to juggle my schedule, miss important events, be away from home on travel, all while trying to support my husband's career as well as I could (as he did mine).

Posted by: Hmmm . . . | July 19, 2006 10:35 AM

I highly recommend Miriam Peskowitz's The Truth Behind The Mommy Wars. Her website is www.playgroundrevolution.com. In the book she addresses Belkins's article, and talks about how much difficulty she had in finding statistics on mothers in the workplace (as opposed to statistics on women in the workplace). The book is not a SAHM v WOHM book. Rather, it talks about how in many cases women who would have liked a middle ground - part-time work with real benefits - have left because those options are not currently available. She herself quit a job as a tenured college professor in part because there was no paid maternity leave. She now works part-time, but not at the level she had been working.

Posted by: Sam | July 19, 2006 10:36 AM

"The data shows that certainly, women take out more time, on average, to care for children and other relatives than men do; the so-called "biological gap" cited by one of the researchers."

I can understand why caring for children is related to the so-called "bilogical gap" (breastfeeding for example), but why taking care of other relatives? I would think that is more a sociological or cultural gap related to our expectations.

"And more men are caring for their children -- the share of men ages 25-54 who say they are at home to care for children has edged up slightly from 1990 to 2003." Any statistics on the men staying home to take care of other relatives?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 19, 2006 10:43 AM

"But in the end, despite my encouragement (and salary), he felt the traditional male burden of supporting his family, and opted for another traditional corporate job instead of taking a risk and going out on his own."

Laura, we had such a similar experience. When we moved and were both looking for work, I ended up getting a great job and negotiated a great salary too, so encouraged my husband to start his own business so he could have more flexible hours. He had always said he wanted to, but when the moment came, he was very unsure at first. In the end he decided to to do it, and now is on a roll and very happy. But there was real struggle with that "male breadwinner" issue too, and still is to some degree - for example his parents are both skeptical of the whole idea and I think a little disapproving of the non-traditional gender roles, and that's hard on him. At some point I realized that I was contributing to this too just in the way I explained it to people. I would sometimes say that my salary was supporting us which allowed him to start his own business. I would say this because I was (am) proud to be able to support my family, and was also very proud of myself for negotiating hard for my salary, but I finally realized that it probably made him feel less secure etc. (I'm sure this seems really obvious to all of you, but what can I say? I was caught up in the moment). Now I just say we both work at home, I telecommute and he has his own business, and I think that's much better.

At any rate, as long as it remains hard for men to make the decision to go their own way or take the daddy-track, it will be harder for women to be more ambitious and career oriented, because as many people have posted on this blog, life is just easier if at least one spouse has some flexibility or shorter hours.

Posted by: Megan | July 19, 2006 10:46 AM

It would be interesting to see how many baby boomer women are "retiring" to care for elderly parents, too.

Posted by: In the Midwest | July 19, 2006 10:47 AM

What I've always wondered, and this is more in line with the first post, is how many women would consider themselves as "not working" but really are. I'm thinking about women in industries like Mary Kay and Avon. I know several Mary Kay ladies who are extremely successful. Able to support themselves and families with the time to care for loved ones, do other things, etc. But I've never encountered one who really considered it "work." I suspect that if they were being polled they would say that they didn't work. Interesting. Probably more of a statistical thing though.

Posted by: NFONWM | July 19, 2006 10:53 AM

I went back to work when my oldest was 3 1/2 (and youngest was 6 mos) so that my husband would have the flexibility to quit his job if he wanted to. Because of my grad degree, it wasn't so difficult to find work (surprisingly to me, who thought it would take at least 6 mos when it took less than 1!). He doesn't want to quit his job until he has some kind of income, I think because of the reasons cited above (viewing himself as breadwinner, etc). But my working will allow him to get out of the corporate world, which he so desperately wants to do. However, I do know many women who opted out so that they could stay home with the kids - they would love to work part time, but the opportunities are not there, so they just stay home rather than deal with the full time (which ends up being more than that) world. I don't understand companies that don't understand this - there is such a need for companies to look for part time employees - i.e., well educated people who don't want to work five days a week/40-60 hours a week, but they refuse that. I think most companies want you to be dependent on them so they can treat you poorly - and your only recourse is to take it. What a poor model of ways to work. if you work part time you are rarely beholden to them, so they can't treat you poorly - they know you can get up and leave if you're unhappy...

Posted by: atlmom | July 19, 2006 11:01 AM

'in many cases women who would have liked a middle ground - part-time work with real benefits'

more professional part time work with real benefits (half the benefits of full time workers?) is what we all could benefit from!!!

Posted by: experienced mom | July 19, 2006 11:07 AM

Most people who want to work part time don't really need the benefits - health care - and don't really want them because they have a spouse who provides that from their job. So really, companies could hire people part time with no benefits, but they still don't want to. It's strange to me, actually...

Posted by: atlmom | July 19, 2006 11:09 AM

I would love to go part time but actually it is my job which provides the benefits, not my husbands. Great health care benefits are invaluable.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 19, 2006 11:11 AM

Megan, I'm totally with you. I will say that these experiences have really sensitized me to the burdens he feels and made me even more appreciative of the pressure he was under when several companies folded (yes, the "security" of corporate life!). I am glad that I can work, so at least he doesn't have the extra burden of being the sole breadwinner.

Posted by: Laura | July 19, 2006 11:13 AM

I think the part-time issue is also one of comfort. They haven't done it before so they don't know how to do it. I was at one company who told me I couldn't do my job as a project manager part time however I was handling two to four projects. When I mentioned that why can't I just handle one to two projects (half the projects, half the work load, half the time) I got a funny look and said you have to be available full time - again when I was dealing with one project I wasn't always available deal with the other (meetings, etc), but that didn't seem to occur to them.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | July 19, 2006 11:25 AM

I think companies don't want to schedule around part-time. I worked for a small company full-time but 4 days a week and they would always schedule a meeting on the day I didn't work and then were put off when they had to change the day of the meeting. BTW, my non-working day was clearly on the calendar but they seem to never use the calendar because they were always asking me where THEY were supposed to be. Go figure!

Posted by: In the Midwest | July 19, 2006 11:30 AM

I think society has finally realized the lies feminists have heaped upon us. Formerly convinced that I HAD to work (more money, status, women's equality, etc.) and juggling overwhelming stress and guilt with leaving 2 preschoolers in day-care, I finally quit my job. I found IMMENSE satisfaction caring for my 2 wonderful kids full-time at home. Money is tight but the homelife is so much better, less stress (and yelling), happier dad, well-adjusted kids, etc.
I made the choice: family over work, and my family is so glad I did.

Posted by: JustAMom | July 19, 2006 11:33 AM

Curious - which "lies" exactly are the ones "feminists" have heaped upon us?

Posted by: Just a thought | July 19, 2006 11:38 AM

I don't believe that feminists have heaped lies upon us. Women should have a choice to do whatever they wish within the parameters of their own lives, including staying home. I work because I need to, for reasons that come from within myself as well as practical concerns - not because feminists say I should.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 19, 2006 11:38 AM

And who is "us?" Us - women or us - men & women?

Posted by: Just a thought | July 19, 2006 11:39 AM

The "biological gap" is not simply referencing the act of giving birth and nursing, it is referencing accepted differences between male and female members of different species and why it is so difficult to accept biologically driven choices for women.

I believe in the NYT article the research referenced that less than 5% of mammals had primary male caretakers for their young while around 90% of birds had males and females equally responsible for the care of their young. The article also discussed the reasons why it is such a touchy topic to do this kind of analysis.

An interesting biological issue discussed in that article is that female mammals tend to be very competitive when it comes to matters that benefit their offspring, and it is possible to argue that, in the absence of financial necessity and in the face of sub-optimal childcare, women may reasonably decide their children will benefit more from the mother's choice to stay home or work in more family friendly environments.

I am a working mother and am totally guilt-free about that, so please do not read this as an argument that women are meant to stay home. I think some interesting biological questions are raised.

Posted by: Another DC Mom | July 19, 2006 11:40 AM

the reality is that we've swung too far over to one way of thinking. The idea that women can do anything is a part of our society now, which is great. But I was raised to only think that some jobs were okay and others were 'beneath' me, rather than thinking that any job well done is a good job. Had I told my parents I wanted to be a pastry chef (what! you don't want to go to college! or work for a big company 9-5?) they would have thought I was crazy - but really, what's so wrong with it? Nothing at all.
But the 'corporate culture' needs to evolve with the rest of society - allowing people to work as they want, i..e, part time if they so choose and it's feasible.

Posted by: atlmom | July 19, 2006 11:41 AM

"I made the choice: family over work, and my family is so glad I did."

What if your husband made the same choice? Would you be glad he did? Where would you live and how would you eat if you both chose family over work?

Posted by: curious | July 19, 2006 11:41 AM

I can also say that most of my friends with kids are SAHMs. But I also know a lot of women at work who have kids, so I guess it just depends on your situation.

Growing up I never counted on not working and staying at home with the kids. That was just not in my upbringing nor an option I considered appealing, but now I can see why women do it and am very jealous that I don't have the option.

For my hubby and me, we both make the same amount, and aren't rich by DC standards, but do well for us and our fields. But the sticking point is if I were to quit work then we would only have half the amount to live on, which we could do but at a small deficit each month, and an emergency would wipe us out, so for now, I will work.

Another advantage is that my current employer has taken me aside and asked me "what I need" when I come back from FMLA, because they do not want to lose me. This totally floored me, so I consider myself lucky!

But according to my mom--who quit one day back to work after having me--just wait unitl the little one arrives and then we'll talk! So stay tuned...

Posted by: Soon to be Mom | July 19, 2006 11:43 AM

I love working and I am happy and grateful that the feminist movement made it possible. Men didn't help, it was women who fought for that right.

Posted by: MLH | July 19, 2006 11:43 AM

Following up on the post from THS, I agree that the second child is the tipping point. I work full time in the corporate world and make a good salary, but if we are lucky enough to have a second child I may consider staying home. Unless you really want to work and make close to six figures, or have low cost/no cost daycare (like family), it just doesn't make sense economically. I'm definitely on the fence about it right now...

I also agree that it's upper class white women who are leaving the workforce - my friends with JDs or MDs (who often marry men with JDs or MDs) are all leaving b/c they can afford to, whereas the rest of us are continuing to work because the cost of living keeps outpacing our salaries in places like SF, Boston and DC.

Posted by: PVT | July 19, 2006 11:44 AM

the biology idea is interesting, but I think the science thing is just that it's taught in a way that men are more likely to succeed. I do believe that men and women are different, but that they learn differently, not that one is more capable than others. Science has been taught by men to men for so long, that many believe that is the only way it should be done.
However, I think if it were taught differently, women would succeed as well. In the 7th grade, my parents were sent a letter saying that the school would allow my parents to enroll me in honors math, but they weren't sure I would succeed, i.e., it was the second or third round of letters (not the 'we really think your kid should take honors math cause they are so great'). I have a BS in math and an MS in applied math. Hmmm - maybe I can succeed!

Posted by: atlmom | July 19, 2006 11:45 AM

"I suspect that if they were being polled they would say that they didn't work."

There are quite a few women like this, Caitlin Flanagan most notably. She will tell you with a straight face that she is a SAHM. Obviously, she's not - she's a professional writer, although it's extremely unlikely that her salary would support her family in the style to which her family has become accustomed. But she self-identifies, inexplicably, as a SAHM.

Any good pollster would acknowledge this possibility and ask questions like "Are you compensated financially for any of the work you do?" instead of "Do you have a job?"

Posted by: Lizzie | July 19, 2006 11:47 AM

You'd be surprised how you could live on one income - we did it for a while and I took my kid to free stuff (library, etc), cooked so much more at home (less eating out - that was KEY) and we didn't go to expensive stuff, but we managed (not so much babysitting, etc). We sent my kid to expensive preschool while buying a new car, so it can be done (my husband does NOT make six figures...).

Posted by: atlmom | July 19, 2006 11:51 AM

Who are all these men that are willing to work hard out in the big bad workforce all day while their wives don't have to work at all?

And how do I find one for myself?

Posted by: Loves To Shop | July 19, 2006 11:56 AM

"Among nonworking adults aged 25 to 54, a growing share of women said they were not holding or seeking a job because of disability or illness, according to the survey data."

This was in the article but Leslie didn't mention it as one of the reasons women opt-out.

Posted by: curious | July 19, 2006 11:57 AM

Soon to be mom - congratulations!

I empathize - I lobbied for a job at a preshcool that would allow me to be in the same building as my first baby, and I was so glad to get the offer - but when the baby came, I knew I couldn't accept it.

I got a lot of ideas on going from two to one incomes from Miserly Moms. It's an art I'm still working on.

As for this article, it's so great to see some real data instead of Linda Hirshman's findings from 15 society brides. Like some others, I assumed what Hirshman wrote was correct, since I know a lot of SAHMs. But when I worked, I didn't know any, and working moms were all around me.

As for "the feminists lied to us" (I love when people say this - like feminism is a ginormous sea squid that speaks with one voice and inks you so you can't see the truth) - I'm glad you found your happiness, but it's a shame you (presumably) let someone talk you into a lifestyle that was not healthy for you and your family. God gave us brains to prevent this from happening.

http://momsquawk.wordpress.com/

Posted by: MommaSteph | July 19, 2006 12:01 PM

*You'd be surprised how you could live on one income*

And I think that a lot of you would be surprised how many families truly could not live on one income, no matter how much they sacrificed. Not everyone in this country is highly-educated (quite a few JDs referenced on this blog) and/or is in a secure decent-paying job. Many positions have been outsourced, obsoleted, or eliminated forcing people to accept lower-paying positions. Not everyone is in a position to live off their savings while being going back to school to be retrained for something new. I know people who lost their jobs and received severance packages of zero. They then accepted lesser paying jobs to survive and guess what, that income wasn't sufficient for the family no matter how many corners were cut.

I apologize for the rant and I'm not saying that anyone's choices are better than anyone elses. I just get tired of the "you can do it if you tried" comments. In my family, we have tried, and we truly can't.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 19, 2006 12:05 PM

Curious--are people living on one income contributing to retirement? I know you would "save" some by not using daycare. However, I can't imagine how we would continue putting 30K a year in our 401(k)s if we only had one income. And to give up 30K a year for 5 years when the kids are little (or even 20K a year, assuming we could continue to put away 10K--which would be a stretch on one income)--when you compound that amount by the time until retirement (30 years or so), that's a *million dollars* of retirement income we'd be giving up. That is a hell of a trade-off, to me. (By the way, the reason we can save that much is because we already do a lot of free stuff, don't eat out much, drive old cars, have no credit card debt, etc. Not much more to cut out of our budget.)

Posted by: Arlmom | July 19, 2006 12:10 PM

"I apologize for the rant and I'm not saying that anyone's choices are better than anyone elses. I just get tired of the "you can do it if you tried" comments. In my family, we have tried, and we truly can't."

Sorry, my comment was poorly timed and came in right before yours. I believe you, and most of my siblings need the two incomes, and not for extras.

Posted by: MommaSteph | July 19, 2006 12:12 PM

Thanks, Megan, for the Ben Barres article link - all of his comments that I've read in various places have been fascinating. So few people have a real chance to observe the workplace from both genders. I think he was really on the mark for a lot of comments, too. I never expected to be treated differently as a student and as an engineer because I'm a woman, and it hasn't happened yet. At least so far as I've noticed. I would be really happy to hear more from women in scientific or engineering careers on this blog - lawyer insights are interesting, but entirely foreign to me.

Posted by: SEP | July 19, 2006 12:13 PM

"Stay tuned . . " indeed! I thought for sure I couldn't stay home with a baby and fully intended to be back at the office ASAP, but I found breastfeeding very "draining" (harhar) and it took forever for the baby to sleep through the night. So I told my supervisor I would need more time off and actually ended up taking off more than a year-- at some point it wasn't about the exhaustion as it was that I didn't want to leave my child with another woman. Then, after a year, I got over the jealousy/fear and wanted to go back to work, but it took a long time to find the right daycare situation (very happy with what I finally got) so we were both pretty sick of one another by the time I was back at work.

So "Soon to be Mom" it is great that you are keeping an open mind and wonderful that your employer is too. The exhaustion and breastfeeding troubles don't happen to everyone, but if they do, take the time off -- you may surprize yourself and find that you enjoy it! And LIFE IS TOO SHORT not to be enjoyed!

Posted by: Capital Hill Mom | July 19, 2006 12:16 PM

[Men didn't help, it was women who fought for that right.]

I have to remind you, MLH, that men, by our own virtue, granted you the right to vote. You wouldn't be where you are today without the help of men, so don't grant your gender complete credit because it is far from the truth.

Posted by: Father of 4 | July 19, 2006 12:16 PM

MommaSteph,

Thanks for being understanding and compassionate.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 19, 2006 12:19 PM

Father of 4, women FOUGHT for the right to vote! What was it, for eighty years? Of course men "granted it," they were they ones running the country!

Posted by: MLH | July 19, 2006 12:24 PM

"Men didn't help"

This is such nonsense. It's like saying that whites didn't help during the Civil Rights movement.

Posted by: Lizzie | July 19, 2006 12:25 PM

Who are all these men that are willing to work hard out in the big bad workforce all day while their wives don't have to work at all?

And how do I find one for myself?

Me, too!

Posted by: Columbia, MD | July 19, 2006 12:25 PM

Is father of 4 joking? Did the whites "give" blacks freedom after slavery? Should they be greatful for freedom after 100s of years of forced servitude? If someone takes away a right, I don't think they get any credit when you get it back. I don't think men are genetically born with "the vote" such that they can then "give" it to to anyone.

Posted by: wondering | July 19, 2006 12:28 PM

MLH, the thought of "fighting women" amuses me.

Maybe that's what attracts me to this blog.

Posted by: Father of 4 | July 19, 2006 12:29 PM

"30K a year in our 401(k)s"

Holey Flannel Pajamas, Batman! I barely make that in a year.

Posted by: Robin | July 19, 2006 12:35 PM

The statistics are in line with my experience. Most of my friends and acquaintances work full-time. In my neighborhood, I know of one or two SAHM (there may be more), one of whom also home-schools her kids. Almost all of us are attorneys (yes, more of us), and we not only have to work but want to. (Although, to be honest, I wish I had and regret not doing the home-school thing with my son because sitting still in school is difficult for him. But I couldn't do that and my husband was not really amenable to it.)

Anyway, I think THS makes an excellent point about job quality and its relation to the shrinking of the female workforce. It appears to me that jobs are more difficult, coworkers and bosses are more difficult, the work is more stressful and demanding, and one is expected to do more on the same salary. In terms of difficult people on the job, they are likely stressed (and insecure) and take it out on others. But when you're faced with a huge workload, little appreciation, crazy politics and bad attitudes, the work world (whether it's corporate, government, non-profit, political, etc.) is certainly less appealing. Owning your own business, being an independent contractor and going freelance become more appealing options if you can afford them.

Another poster made an equally excellent point about breaking the percentage of working women who leave down by race and class. Really, the bottom line is those who can and want to (leave) do; those who can't and don't want to stay and deal.

Posted by: momoftwo | July 19, 2006 12:38 PM

For those of you who doubt the statistics because they don't reflect the people you know- that's why when the Bureau of Labor Statistics (the agency that collected this data) does a survey, it doesn't just call the surveyor's friends and acquaintances. I hate to generalize, but- most of us are friends with people who have similar lifestyles, and live in neighborhoods filled with similar people (especially race and class-wise). SAHM's shouldn't be surprised if most of their friends are also SAHM's- and WM's shouldn't be surprised if most of their friends are WM's.

Posted by: randommom | July 19, 2006 12:41 PM

Atlmom wrote: " I was raised to only think that some jobs were okay and others were 'beneath' me, rather than thinking that any job well done is a good job. Had I told my parents I wanted to be a pastry chef (what! you don't want to go to college! or work for a big company 9-5?) they would have thought I was crazy"

This sounds like a class issue, not a gender issue.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 19, 2006 12:43 PM

"Most people who want to work part time don't really need the benefits - health care - and don't really want them because they have a spouse who provides that from their job. So really, companies could hire people part time with no benefits, but they still don't want to. It's strange to me, actually..."

As a SAHM who just found a job after being out of the work force for ten years, I'm lucky that my part time position will pay benefits. As I was deciding whether to take this position, my husband was fired from his job.

So the benefits that seemed to be unnecessary are mostly the reason I'm taking the job.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 19, 2006 12:44 PM

I agree that one reason women leave work is that they are competitve about their kids' welfare and think they can provide a better environment for their kids than can the substandard daycares. My older kid has been in two center-based daycares: one really expensive one, and a less expensive (but not cheap!) daycare. The expensive one was fantastic and I never had a qualm leaving my kid there, but the less expensive one is clearly not as good as mommy.

I also agree that daycare for two kids can be an impetus to leave work, unless your job pays really well. But I think another factor is the division of already limited free time between two kids. When I was workign, I had 90 minutes a day with my kid. Divided between two? I don't think so!

I think it would be great if there were more part time jobs, and I bet many women would go for that while their kids were small, but I don't thkn it will happen because even halving the benefits is expensive for companies. And what do they do with your desk while your not working? Do you share it with another part-time owrker?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 19, 2006 12:47 PM

"30K a year in our 401(k)s"

The numbers don't apply to everyone, but the concept does. Opting out of work is a decision that should be based on issues other than immediate affordability and desired current family lifestyles. Don't forget how your decisions today can affect you and your family's futures.

Posted by: curious | July 19, 2006 12:49 PM

Yes, Father of 4 is joking. He pretty much always is.

Posted by: speech girl | July 19, 2006 12:49 PM

"When I was workign, I had 90 minutes a day with my kid."

The biggest problem I see is that full-time has gotten so far beyond 40 hours. I work full-time which is 8 hours + 1/2 hour for lunch. I am home by 5:30 or 6:00 every day. My school-age children stay up later than most, until 9:30 or 10:00, so I have at least 3 1/2 hours with them every evening and also some morning time which is extremely hectic. If I feel like I don't have enough time with the kids, it's no wonder people working more than 40 hours are giving it up.

Posted by: curious | July 19, 2006 12:56 PM

SEP, As a chemical engineer for a relatively large defense contractor I do notice a huge difference in how I am viewed in comparison to my male counterparts (especially when I need to leave work to take care of my daughter). However, in other sectors (I've also worked in pharmaceuticals, polymers, and energy) there is less disparity between the sexes. My husband has wondered aloud why I put up with the treatment. While I don't love the office politics, I do love my job.

Posted by: Enginerd | July 19, 2006 12:57 PM

Altmom -- you're simply wrong in your assumption that those who work part time don't need benefits. How about a family where both parents work part time? It's a nice gig if you can arrange it...

Posted by: CA mom | July 19, 2006 1:00 PM

I agree with Curious. I work full time but am always sure to be home by 5. That gives me around 3 hours with my daughter each evening (my husband takes care of her in the morning so I can go to work a bit early - I'm a morning person). Plus I see her the full 48 hours or more of the weekend. And unlike so many of her friends parents, when I am with my daughter she is the center of my attention. Our time together is quality.

Posted by: Time | July 19, 2006 1:02 PM

"I would love to go part time but actually it is my job which provides the benefits, not my husbands. Great health care benefits are invaluable.

Posted by: | July 19, 2006 11:11 AM "

Imagine what our country would be like if health care benefits were not tied to your job. Wow. Employers complain about the rising cost of health care, but clearly, it's also a huge reason people stay at certain companies and in some cases, in the workforce at all.

Posted by: eaopmk | July 19, 2006 1:04 PM

Loves to Shop and Columbia, MD,

You gotta look for the geeks and goofballs. You know the types. They're the ones you wouldn't date in high school. They are the ones who are proud to provide for their families and don't think it's all about them.

You won't find them at the bar, or the beach, or the nightclub dancing. In fact, they probably can't dance...or jump..or run. You will find them in your place of worship, the local computer store (not the employees), or a self-help seminar.

But, you won't be attracted to them at first. And they may not make the first move to ask you out. Strike up a conversation and see if they have a world view or a puppy. Find out if they care about who you are instead of what you do for a living.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 19, 2006 1:45 PM

Randommom said "SAHM's shouldn't be surprised if most of their friends are also SAHM's- and WM's shouldn't be surprised if most of their friends are WM's."

I should have clarified in my earlier post (I'm the one that knows 8 JDs who are now SAHMs) that I work. I am the ONLY working mom I know that has my educational background, is around my age, and is white, upper middle class. So, yes I am surprised that I'm the only one and that most of my friends are SAHMs and the ones that do work (who don't have kids yet) plan to be SAHMs when they do have kids.

Posted by: anotherarlmom | July 19, 2006 1:45 PM

The Silver Spring, MD company I work for has many professional part-time positions with real benefits (based on the percentage of full-time equivalency). I work from 9 am to 3 pm 5 days a week (my children are 9 and 11) and receive 75% of all benefits (for example, 6 hours pay for federal holidays). In fact, they pay me $750 because I do not take the healthcare benefits (my husband covers that). This company is also very flexible with time off. I have never missed any school event, and even have been room-parent for every single class. Needless to say, there are many, many happy long-term employees here.

Posted by: part-time professional | July 19, 2006 1:46 PM

Has anyone given consideration to the Southern Baptist Convention's recent direction (oh, in the last 5-8 years or so) to women that they should quit their jobs and stay home? This was supposed to help restore a more "traditional" way of life, I believe.

I know that it was a huge issue and topic of discussion in my brother's federal office, where quite a few of his coworkers were women high on the GS scale but nowhere near ready for retirement, and they truly felt torn between devotion to their church's teachings and their need to make a living.

I wonder how many women actually conformed...

Posted by: Maritza | July 19, 2006 1:46 PM

Fewer women at work? Fewer Men at Work!

When the PC police banned the "Men at Work" signs, men simply stopped working. Havent you noticed that now that we have "Work Zone" signs, and the flag-person tells drivers its safe to proceed, that no work is in fact in progress? Or that the work is being done poorly? If you dont believe me just compare the results of Triboro Bridge and Tunnel System to the Big Dig.

See? I am not working either, because there is no sign! We need those signs back or America will experience continued decline vs our first world peers.

and on the voting thing - imagine how low voting turnout would be if men hadnt allowed ladies the right to vote?

Posted by: Fo3 | July 19, 2006 1:47 PM

Has anyone given consideration to the Southern Baptist Convention's recent direction (oh, in the last 5-8 years or so) to women that they should quit their jobs and stay home? This was supposed to help restore a more "traditional" way of life, I believe.

I know that it was a huge issue and topic of discussion in my brother's federal office, where quite a few of his coworkers were women high on the GS scale but nowhere near ready for retirement, and they truly felt torn between devotion to their church's teachings and their need to make a living.

I wonder how many women actually conformed...

Posted by: Maritza | July 19, 2006 1:48 PM

"My husband and I joke all the time that when I make "X" level at my firm, he's going to quit and do woodworking all day (and his bosses are a little scared, because they know he can choose to walk at any time)."

I saw a really interesting situation like this at my last job. A very good writer on our magazine staff was married with no kids. It was known that his wife had a good job and an excellent salary. The bosses were scared he would quit at any time, so they gave him good raises! He deserved them, but I was privy to conversations where it was basically stated, "His wife can support them, and they don't have kids. If we want to keep him, we've got to give him a big salary increase."

How often does that happen to a woman, even if she's the best employee in the company? It's often expected that the husband makes more and the wife's income is somehow "supplemental", especially if there are children.

I guess somehow my husband needs to let his company know my salary, because we also have no kids and I could carry us easily. We need leverage to get him his next raise!

Posted by: Melody | July 19, 2006 1:53 PM

To the woman whose family is glad she quit - that's great for you, but I couldn't get my husband to sign on. I could have unilaterally quit my job even though we can't afford our house on just his salary and put us in a situation where we had to put it on the market and sell quickly, but I thought that would put too great a strain on our relationship. He and I had honest, different opinions on whether we could afford for me to stay home. So I've trudged along.

At the time I resented feminists for "lying" to me. It was because it was assumed that I could "have it all" that we got ourselves in a situation that required two salaries in the first place. But I honestly think the women in the 1970s did not realize how hard it could be. Supposedly Betty Friedan in The Feminist Mystique, which I haven't read, referenced the fact that women can't work full-throttle when their children are very young, but no one picked up on that.

One thing I've struggled with is what to tell my daughter. I've read reports that women who stay at home after having very challenging careers worry about what message they are sending their daughters by staying home. Honest, I've read it. I'm not saying it's true so please don't be offended. I have the same trouble. I was so heartbroken when I went back to work that I want to tell my daughter to make sure she doesn't do the same thing. That when the time comes, she and her husband should reach agreement that they will arrange their lives so she will have the option to stay home if she wants to. My father's words of advice even came back to me -- "It's just as easy to fall in love with a rich man than a poor man." I don't plan on telling her that she'd be a bad mom if she doesn't stay home. Just that she should leave the option open. But is this sending the "wrong" message? That she should not be trying her best in school, college, etc. because some day she may want to leave it all to stay home? Have any of you struggled with how to walk that fine line?

Posted by: Sam | July 19, 2006 1:57 PM

IMHO men or women who are:

fans at baseball games filling out the scorecard

people at the golf range consistently hitting clubs other than their driver

people who sing in community choruses/play in community orchestras/bands

siblings of parents at christenings

and - rugby or hockey players

are high percentage good future spouse/parent materiel.

Posted by: addendum to 1:45PM | July 19, 2006 1:58 PM

First, my apologies for this off-topic post (I'm even posting under a different alias to protect the guilty), but I work in a small office (less than 20) and this has become an issue, so I'm asking the mothers here for a few opinions: What are the chances a woman did NOT know she was pregnant 5 weeks after the fact?

Posted by: Totally off topic | July 19, 2006 1:59 PM

If you worry that you're a bad mom for not staying home, do you also wonder if your husband is a bad father for not staying home?

Posted by: Just a thought | July 19, 2006 2:01 PM

Weird question (why do you all care?) But I honestly think that being 5 weeks pregnant and unaware is VERY possible. A lot of women do not get morning sickness (I didn't). My main symptom at 5 weeks (besides the missed period) was that I was thirsty. Don't know that you would equate that with "OH, I must be pregnant."

Posted by: to totally off topic | July 19, 2006 2:03 PM

That's it. At 40, I have been thinking of career change. After reading today's posts, I am definitely going to go to law school.

Posted by: Need the big $ | July 19, 2006 2:04 PM

"Imagine what our country would be like if health care benefits were not tied to your job."

For some of us, they're not, and you're correct that it makes a difference. I am a federal widow and have survivor benefits so long as I do not remarry. (Oddly enough I get them BACK if I divorce. I have a separate rant about how, if we're supposed to be so almighty concerned about protecting marriage, it's strange that I have an economic disincentive to remarry.) I pay for these benefits, but at the government-employee rate. They are not tied to a job.

I don't like HOW this happened, but I like my health-benefit freedom. I can take contract work, or negotiate a higher rate/salary--and I do.

Posted by: Health Insurance | July 19, 2006 2:05 PM

totally off topic - Many women have cycles longer than 5 weeks, and so would not yet have noticed a missed period. It's quite possible for a woman not to realize she was pregnant that soon.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 19, 2006 2:06 PM

At five weeks pregnant? It would be easy not to know. Some women are not aware of their cycles, some get their "special friend" for the first few months, etc.

Posted by: Alias | July 19, 2006 2:07 PM

part-time professional - I'm going to make a guess here, but I'd guess you have a high skilled job -analyst, statistician, technical something or other?

The true key to women's balancing work and life is that they need to have the power to make choices. A high-skilled job gives you that power.

We've got to invest in ourselves first.

Posted by: RoseG | July 19, 2006 2:10 PM

"I would be really happy to hear more from women in scientific or engineering careers on this blog - lawyer insights are interesting, but entirely foreign to me."


I was in engineering and computer science for 18 years. While at an entry level, I think they made an effort to make sure salaries were equal and that women were recruited equally there were big differences in the way men and women are treated once at work.

Men generally get much more mentoring and are seen as people who want to learn new things and rise in the country. Women are generally not given the same opportunities even when they repeatedly request them. Women tended to be put on maintaining existing systems while men where pushed to learn new skills, develop new systems. Technical companies seem to think that providing a good workplace for women means providing a mommy track.

During my career I was told:

1. I didn't belong because I was going to have children and quit working (which I never did).
2. I was told during an evaluation that I didn't need to worry about challenging assignments because I would find a husband and have children soon. (I had never expressed any desire for this)
3. Told during evaluations that I was "too" smart. Interesting, my brothers in technical fields who are as smart and prboably much more cocky about it never get told things like that.
4. Asked to do the typing when the secretaty wasn't in.

I could go on and on about the subtle differences. Basically, men automatically get treated as professionals who are interested in developing their careers while women have to continually fight for it.

I'm hoping that things are better for women in engineering and computers since the 80s and 90s but from what I'm hearing things may not be because women are becoming less likely to go into those fields (I would guess because they are not very welcoming to women).

Good luck! I would be prepared to be very assertive in your career.

Posted by: kep | July 19, 2006 2:13 PM

Good comment, Rose G. We need to teach young women to first become independent and self-supporting, and then look for a husband and family. If you have strong skills and keep them up, I firmly believe you can leave the workforce for a time and come back and start climbing the ladder again. If you spend your prime career years waiting for a man to marry you, you have wasted the best time of your life to position yourself for future earnings.

Posted by: Melody | July 19, 2006 2:14 PM

To Totally Off Topic -

I was six weeks before I "found out" I was pregnant. I had a history of irregular cycles, and had just moved to a different state and started a new job the week before. Pregnancy was the LAST thing on my mind. Unless a woman is actively trying to conceive, sometimes symptoms are easy to ignore if you don't know to look...

Posted by: Anonymous | July 19, 2006 2:15 PM

"If you worry that you're a bad mom for not staying home, do you also wonder if your husband is a bad father for not staying home."

I'd be worried that we were bad PARENTS if one of us didn't stay home. Gender has nothing to do with it.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 19, 2006 2:17 PM

To the MAN who asked about knowing if you are pregnant at five weeks: Of course it's possible NOT to know you are pregnant. Especially if it's your first pregnancy, or if you have irregular cycles, or if you're just not paying attention! When do you THINK a woman is supposed to know? Five MINUTES afterward, five DAYS? Sorry for my annoyance, but it appears some people in your office are upset at this pregnant woman not informing anyone sooner or something like that. It's her business, not yours. Women often don't even announce a pregnancy until the third month in case they miscarry. It's easy to be two months gone and not know.

Posted by: Geez | July 19, 2006 2:19 PM

To Geez:
Bravo, well stated.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 19, 2006 2:21 PM

Apologies - I wasn't trying to attack, but since you were talking about your daughter and said you would never tell her she'd be a bad mom not to stay home, I assumed (incorrectly) we were only talking about women. Thank you for responding, though.

Posted by: Just a thought | July 19, 2006 2:22 PM

Just to add to the other points, not only is it possible to not be closely tracking periods and miss that five weeks have passed, but it's also possible to HAVE periods while pregnant. Full out periods while pregnant are pretty rare, but implantation bleeding is fairly common, something like 30% of women have that. It would be very easy to mistake implantation bleeding for a light, slightly early period and not pick up on that irregularity for another month.

Not really sure why that could matter though. As someone else pointed out, people often do not publicize pregnancies till three months along. A lot happens in that three months beyond peeing on a stick and immediately going to your employer with the news and your tentative maternity leave schedule.

Posted by: to totally off topic | July 19, 2006 2:26 PM

I have read this column off and on for many months now. I've never posted until now.

I have agreed with many points I've read in here, and disagreed with many more. I applaud Fatherof4 and the other male posters who generally write with lightness and wit (and the ladies who appreciate them).

I have enjoyed the good points made in recurring posts, such as the one about expanding the range of employment options (part time, flexible, etc.) will benefit both genders, and our kids.

Just couldn't let the comment from MLH go unanswered, though: "I love working and I am happy and grateful that the feminist movement made it possible. Men didn't help, it was women who fought for that right."

First, granted on the following:
1) Women mostly lead the feminist struggle, overcame many obstacles, etc.
2) Many men fought it, demeaned many who worked for it, etc.

But if you honestly think it is fair to make a blanket statement like "Men didn't help, it was women who fought for that right," then you are astonishingly blind to history. You would also be exhibiting the very generalization traits that you would likely excoriate a man for making.

Give it some thought...

And hopefully, any further posts I make will allow my witty side to get a chance, but this opening one had to be made. :~)

Posted by: TexasDadof two | July 19, 2006 2:26 PM

Hey, at least he's asking and finding out so next time he'll know - how's a man automatically supposed to know how a woman knows she's preganant unless he asks someone? Not like they can teach anything useful about reproduction in schools.

Posted by: Calm | July 19, 2006 2:27 PM

"But is this sending the "wrong" message? That she should not be trying her best in school, college, etc. because some day she may want to leave it all to stay home?"

I'd think the best advice you could give her would be that she may well have to support herself for some or all of her adult life, and she should therefore work as hard as she can in school so she'll be in a position to choose work that she likes and that is paid well-enough that she can do that. Because, honestly, the odds are that she *will* have to support herself at some point. I'd think you'd also want her to have the economic power to leave an abusive marriage (God forbid).

Lastly, just because you were heartbroken to return to work doesn't mean that your daughter would be. I love my mom and am quite close to her, but the satisfaction that each of us derives from our professional accomplishments could not be more different. Be careful that you don't give her advice based solely on how you felt upon returning to work.

Posted by: Lizzie | July 19, 2006 2:29 PM

Yes, RoseG, I have a masters degree, and I work as a proposal manager. I obtained my masters and much professional experience before I had my sons. And you are right, there are many more options for highly-skilled employees. But most government contractors (and I have worked for several) have quite a bit of flexibility.

Posted by: part-time professional | July 19, 2006 2:30 PM

"I was so heartbroken when I went back to work that I want to tell my daughter to make sure she doesn't do the same thing. That when the time comes, she and her husband should reach agreement that they will arrange their lives so she will have the option to stay home if she wants to. . . . I don't plan on telling her that she'd be a bad mom if she doesn't stay home. Just that she should leave the option open. But is this sending the "wrong" message? That she should not be trying her best in school, college, etc. because some day she may want to leave it all to stay home? Have any of you struggled with how to walk that fine line?


PLEASE don't tell your daughter not to worry about how well she does in school. As has been noted over and over on this blog, it's women who have advanced educations who are in a position to make choices about whether to work---not only because they are likely to be married to more affluent men but because they are more likely to have been able to save before having kids and because they have better prospects of returning to jobs that pay well.

Because they have valuable skills, well-educated women are also more likely to be able to negotiate flexible arrangements with employers and to have skills that are valued in the marketplace if they want to be self-employed.

Education is always valuable---and not only economically.

Posted by: THS | July 19, 2006 2:32 PM

As far as opportunities and options go for women, I teach my daughters that maintaining a nice fit & trim waste is one of the most important things they nneed to do for themselves.

Not exactly fair, but everybody knows its the truth.

Posted by: Father of 4 | July 19, 2006 2:36 PM

I'd add to PTProfessional's post that careers that revolve around output as opposed to time spent (IE writing, sales, PR, Contract officer etc. etc. etc.) are much more amenable to PT. I work in HR, for example, which is a lot of answering questions by email and phone.

However, I think the single easiest way to work PT is to lay the groundwork while still FT by doing a great job and maintaining your contacts. I fully expected to be a SAHM, but work came to me that was too interesting and flexible to resist.

Posted by: PTJobFTMom | July 19, 2006 2:45 PM

Yes, no woman should underestimate how ignorant men can be about basic female biology & reproductive issues.

Attitudes like that are why guys don't ask those questions before they wind up doing some extremely silly things.

Posted by: Confused Godmother | July 19, 2006 2:46 PM

As long as you teach your sons that the best thing they can do is be tall and well muscled too.

Let's be equal-opportunity shallow, Father of 4.

Posted by: Confused Godmother | July 19, 2006 2:49 PM

Anonymous guy, next time just don't ask. Clearly educating yourself on women's issues and trying to formulate informed opinions is not worth the trouble that you get.

It's so much less effort just to let them criticize you for being an uninformed lay-about since they are inclined to criticize no matter what.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 19, 2006 2:56 PM

I think the question got that response because of how it was phrased. "How early can a woman know she is pregnant?" would also elicit a variety of replies explaining what can confound answering that question. But how it was presented made it seem like the woman SHOULD know at five weeks and something was awry with her or her silence about it.

Most people can benefit from more education no these, and other, health issues though. It is nice when points like this can come up in conversation and not only from a class or a book someone frantically read during a pregnancy scare, ha.

Posted by: re: calm/confused | July 19, 2006 2:56 PM

To just a thought -

Actually, I wasn't the one who responded to your post. That was someone else. But in any event, there was a misunderstanding.

I was not saying that I thought I was a bad mother for not staying home. I was trying to clarify that, in thinking about what I will tell my daughter down the road, I will NOT tell her that she will be a bad mother if she works. In trying not to be misunderstood, I was misunderstood! I do not think I am a bad mother by virtue of the fact I work. So I will not tell my daughter that she would be a bad mother, because I don't believe it. Rather, the reason why I would want her to leave her options open would be so that she does not have regrets, like I do. I just threw that sentence in the post so people would not think that I would be conveying a judgment on her as to whether mothers who work are "good" or "bad".

And I do want to encourage my daughter to do her best at school. I'm just wondering if urging her not to get cornered into a WOH life might send the opposite message. Of course this can wait until she's engaged, which hopefully will not be for another 20 years, if at all, But in case I get hit by a bus in the interim I'd like to pass on some advice that may save her some pain. I really had no clue what being a mom would be like until it happened.

In any event, I AM a bad mother. Not because I work, but because I lack patience, yell, etc. Which sometimes is related to a bad day in the office, and sometimes not.

Posted by: Sam | July 19, 2006 2:57 PM

To Totally off topic,

The length of a pregnancy (and this is assuming a regular cycle) is dated from the first day of the women's last period. (Sorry if TMI). A woman who is "five weeks" pregnant has actually only been pregnant for three weeks and is only one week late. It is totally feasible to not know at this point, particularly if she was not trying to get pregnant.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 19, 2006 3:03 PM

Father of 4, I think you meant "waist," not "waste." Right?

Posted by: MLH | July 19, 2006 3:15 PM

"Who are all these men that are willing to work hard out in the big bad workforce all day while their wives don't have to work at all?

And how do I find one for myself?"

Loves to Shop,
I would suggest a good look in the mirror and then a good look at the scale before looking. If they don't find you first, then you might need to reassess your options.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 19, 2006 3:19 PM

TexasDadof two,

What a nice way to introduce yourself to the blog. I totally agree with you. We can't make blanket statements about men and expect to be respected, promoted, and seen as equals. It's not fair and it's not how I want men to view me. I also agree that men did help in the feminist movement. I mean does everyone really think that all the men out there, your fathers, grandfathers, cousins, friends or whoever, didn't want to see their daughters and wives do and become what they wanted? That is just too big of a generalization. It's like saying that no one other than African Americans helped the civil rights movement.

Father of 4,

You wily devil, you know stomachs aren't a man's favorite body part.

On topic

I'd love to work part time or even no time while I finish my masters, but I am afraid of not being able to find another gig. Would I feel bad if I decided not work or "drop out," or wither away-nope. Isn't that what the feminists burnt their bras for in the 70s, so I could have a choice.

Posted by: scarry | July 19, 2006 3:30 PM

Father of 4, please also teach them how to spell.

Posted by: Waste? | July 19, 2006 3:34 PM

many people don't tell anyone they are pregnant until after the three month mark. Early miscarriages are common, and it is more painful to deal with the aftermath of a miscarriage if your whole world thinks you are pregnant.

Posted by: experienced mom | July 19, 2006 3:38 PM

About what you tell your daughter: that it is her responsiblity to take advantage of the education you have provided for her, and that she will one day be an adult who will need to provide for herself. That much of adult life for most people is centered around work, and that for that reason she should focus on finding work that sustains her financially and emotionally. That one day, if she is lucky, she may find a partner to share her life's journey with. And that if she is very fortunate, that relationship will be permanent enough for her to have children, if she wants to. And that if she is very, very fortunate, someday, for some portion of that time, she may have a choice of whether she wishes to stay home with those children. She will need to think long and hard about the implications of that choice for her relationship, her family, and her own financial future. She will also need to know that life often does not work out the way we plan, that careers falter, partners drift away, illness intrudes, and that it is always important to have a plan to deal with these possibilities. I think that the conversation takes place over years, and will obviously reflect the course your own life has taken. I also think that much of the lessons she will take away come from the life your family leads day by day.

Posted by: lifermom | July 19, 2006 3:49 PM

lifermom, that is beautiful!

in addition, we need to teach our sons how to be good husbands and fathers.

Posted by: experienced mom | July 19, 2006 3:52 PM

Maritza -- The Southern Baptist Convention or whatever it was can kiss my a**. If they had it their way, women would be barefoot and pregnant and serving up hot meals to their hubbies while "graciously submitting" to their wills, in between kneeling to pray on a frequency that makes a muslim look like an atheist. I do not take direction from fanatics. Also, I can't imagine that any woman who enjoys her career honestly thought about quitting because her church told her to become a throwback to the 50s.

Posted by: Hah | July 19, 2006 4:02 PM

lifermom,

*stands and applauds* Bravo.

Posted by: AG | July 19, 2006 4:04 PM

The whole idea that there was no such thing as a two income household before the 70s is ridiculous. Okay, in the 50s, maybe, the world was prosperous, so women didn't HAVE to work - but *that* was the anomaly, not the other way around. Parents (both of them) ALWAYS worked. The man typically did the finding of the food (working hard labor, farming) while the woman worked day and night making flour, bread, food for the family AND completely making the clothes for the family. So they didn't necessarily both have 9-5 jobs, but they both worked and HARD. The ideal of the 50s was we were prosperous after the war, so women could be home - and the manufacturing revolution was upon us (i.e., it was now less expensive to buy clothes, it was now less expensive to buy packaged foods, which didn't really exist before). I am certainly not advocating that we all stay home and make our own clothes and food, but put things in perspective - everyone always worked - don't blame 'feminism' for that.

Posted by: atlmom | July 19, 2006 4:04 PM

Hah, I agree with you 100%

Posted by: MLH | July 19, 2006 4:06 PM

First, thank you all for the responses. The reason I asked the question: This woman accepted a job with us, and in hindsight was 5 weeks pregnant. And as mentioned before, it's a small company, so someone starting with us, getting trained, and leaving would have had a significant negative impact--there was a poster who got screwed over in like fashion just yesterday or Monday. The "power that be" believes she did this willfully, and holds it against her. I did not know what to think, and now I do, so thanks again. And yes, I will use my position to support her.

And to Geez, well done, Sherlock! How on earth did you ever determine I was a man!

Posted by: Totally off topic | July 19, 2006 4:07 PM

To Totally off Topic:
Is this a serious question or are you just trying to derail the conversation? And while we are on the subject... How long should it take for a man to figure out that his fequent need to urinate is actually due to an enlarged prostate? When you put it that way, the topic suddenly becomes too private to discuss. How do you think women feel revealing details of their medical condition to their co-workers?

Posted by: dcdesigner | July 19, 2006 4:08 PM

Small digression....

"I'm hoping that things are better for women in engineering and computers since the 80s and 90s but from what I'm hearing things may not be because women are becoming less likely to go into those fields (I would guess because they are not very welcoming to women)."

Or women were discouraged from taking math & science classes in school. I had teachers tell me I would never "get" math because I was a girl. I had guidance counselors asking me "Why are you taking so many hard classes? Why don't you tkae Home Ec instead?", which they NEVER asked the guys. Luckily, I had a lot of support at home.

10 years later, I have a masters, I've worked as a data geek in computers and in finance, and I run my own business part-time. So much for not "getting" numbers or math.

Sometimes I think to truly start getting balance, we need to not only focus on the current group of working women, but on the next generation. What good is it to have equal pay if there's not equal opportunity to enter a certain field?

Posted by: AG | July 19, 2006 4:13 PM

Poor dcdesigner - a minute late and a brain cell short.

Kudos to Totally Off Topic for actually seeking out information instead of engaging in nasty groupthink. Thumbs down to any of you who were acting as though you've never been confused or ignorant about something (like, say, Geez).

Posted by: Anonymous | July 19, 2006 4:15 PM

nice timing dcdesigner!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 19, 2006 4:17 PM

"And I do want to encourage my daughter to do her best at school. I'm just wondering if urging her not to get cornered into a WOH life might send the opposite message."

Sam, personally, I think you can easily give that message without pressuring her into one choice or another. Just make it a discussion about putting herself in the best position to choose whatever path she wants. The power is in having the choice in the first place. So you can make yourself a lesson of "my choice would have been X, but here are the mistakes I made that prevented me from accomplishing that." Frankly, as others have noted, it is only smart to prepare to support yourself for some portion of your life -- and it is the smart, well-educated, professional women who seem to have the most freedom.

Personally, I was raised by a WOHM who was the most fiscally conservative woman I've ever met. She taught me to work hard and not live up to my income not because she wanted me to be able to stay at home, but because she wanted me to be able to handle whatever life handed me and never have to scrimp as much as she did.

That preparation came in good stead. My husband and I chose smaller houses and cheaper cars and the like so that we could get by on one income if necessary, even though we did not plan for me to be a SAHM. That sure put us in good stead when he closed down two facilities and got laid off from a third job within a 5-year period, and we ended up carrying two houses for a year (one mistake I will never, ever make again).

Point is, teaching your daughter that getting a good education and living below your means are important is a great way to prepare her for whatever she decides she wants in life -- whether that's to be a SAHM, to work part-time (like me), to follow her passion into a low-paying field, to retire earlier, whatever it is. Having the freedom to choose whether to work, and if so, how and where, and having the security to know you can weather any crisis that comes up, is truly liberating.

Posted by: Laura | July 19, 2006 4:19 PM

Discriminating due to pregnancy shouldn't happen, but look at it this way: If you were hiring a nanny for your child, a nurse for a family member with a long-term illness, or a builder for your house, or anything else that would impact you strongly; would you really hire someone who would be gone in a relatively short time? And if someone did leave for a reason you were not aware of, would you wonder if they didn't know themselves or if they just withheld the information?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 19, 2006 4:21 PM

"Poor dcdesigner - a minute late and a brain cell short.

Kudos to Totally Off Topic for actually seeking out information instead of engaging in nasty groupthink. Thumbs down to any of you who were acting as though you've never been confused or ignorant about something (like, say, Geez).

Posted by: | July 19, 2006 04:15 PM"


Kudos? Kudos? He wanted to know if he could or should support her. Of course it's possible she didn't know at 5wks, but it's also possible she did, so then she would not deserve his support? It is ILLEGAL to not hire a woman because she is pregnant, so maybe it's best she didn't tell her prospective employer, not doing so saved them from being sued!

The company has to invest in her, but she'll be there 6-8months full-time, working, learning, and preparing a temp for when she is out. Obviously she may never come back, but she could be a single person without kids and decide after 8months to never come back. Being pregnant is irrelevant to that. ANY hire is a risk for the employer and it is illegal for them to use this information against her. Why not think about those implications rather than if she was "hiding" information or not?

What is she supposed to do? Tell people in interviews before she tells her friends? Not start what could potentially be the perfect job for her? Check out of life for a year cause a bun's in the oven? Oh, PLEASE. This is exactly what got people riled up. It was not a simple inquiry into women's health issues.

Posted by: re: off topic. | July 19, 2006 4:24 PM

"I had guidance counselors asking me 'Why are you taking so many hard classes? Why don't you tkae Home Ec instead?',"

AG, I had the opposite happen. I was forced to take math and science because I was so good at it and a guidance counselor was "you should be an engineer". So, being the stubborn idiot I am I decided to major in home economics in college to stay as far away from math as possible and because I didn't get that much encouragement from a WOMAN math teacher (the boys did though). Now I'm close to 40 and rethinking my decision. I would love to take some math classes to see if I still have it. BTW, was in fashion merchandising but now am in telecommunications - never know where you'll end up.

Posted by: In the Midwest | July 19, 2006 4:26 PM

And if the company treats the pregnant woman quite well, she may become the most loyal employee they have ever had.

Posted by: atlmom | July 19, 2006 4:28 PM

The issues of family income and social class come up again and again here, most often in references to the issue of choice, with posters acknowledging that choices about whether to work outside the home and how much to work outside the home depend on the family's overall economic circumstances.

I'd be interested in hearing from someone who has a blue-collar job or an office job that doesn't require a professional education. For such families, it's not only likely that both parents must work (if there are two parents) but also that they are less likely to have the resources to pay for high-quality childcare.

How do they do it? What trade-offs do they make? What would be most helpful to them in terms of working conditions, access to childcare, or government policies that might make life better for themselves and their children?

If this description fits you, I hope you'll share more of the issues that concern you.

And, Leslie, you might think of addressing this issue either in your own posts or by inviting some to comment in a guest blog.

Posted by: THS | July 19, 2006 4:31 PM

MLH, this is funny. I'm a really bad speler, so I actually asked my daughter how to spel the word "waist" and pointed to my stomach, she thought I was pointing to myself... The brat is sitting right next to me, i've been working on a Microsoft Access project since 4:00 am this morning, my eyes are crossed and T's are dotted, and the project still doesn't work right. I feel waisted!

Just to let you know, personally, I like women that are well rounded, and I'm a sucker for a soft gentle voice, and there's a good reason for that... someday, I'll explain it, but right now, I'm too tired and it's my day to cook dinner while my wife goes to work.

Posted by: Father of 4 | July 19, 2006 4:36 PM

To Totally off Topic, sorry I posted before your last post came up. I apologize.

Regarding women being encouraged in math and science. I was always encouraged by my parents, teachers and guidance counselor to take the most challenging math and science courses. I took four years of honors and AP level math and science courses in my Montgomery County, Maryland high school. I graduated solitarian of my class. But then dismayed everyone by choosing to turn down scholarships to well known Universities in order to attend a private arts college. I love my profession, and would not change a thing. Engineering and science just never interested me in same way that the graphic arts do. I love my work as a graphic designer, I get to really learn about my client's work and figure out how to best represent it. I do rely on my foundation in science to help me out, especially when it comes to representing the pharmaceutical and bio-tech industries we have in the DC area.

Posted by: dcdesigner | July 19, 2006 4:37 PM

What is a solitarian? Someone who likes solitude and is a librarian? And Neil Diamond sings . . .and I'll be what I am, solitarian . . .

Posted by: What | July 19, 2006 5:14 PM

I am not a blue collar worked (I am another lawyer - this is DC after all). But, I think it is wrong to presume that all "non-professinals" have no choice other than to have two parent workers.

There are contractors in this area that I know make a lot more money than I do - has anyone priced a kitchen remodel lately? I am pretty sure my plumber makes more money than I do (and his wife stays home with their kids). I am a big propoent of education, but it is no guarantee of money. Many well educated people in DC work at ridiculously low wages in the non-profit sector (although some nonprofits pay very well). My younger sister was competing with people that had masters degrees for entry level positions that paid in the mid 20K/year when she got out of college a few years ago. Additionally, tenured faculty positions at Universities are very hard to come by these days.

The Millionaire Next Door is a fascinating read. The most well-off people in this country are not doctors and lawyers. They are small business owners, often first generation americans. They work hard and are "careful" with their money. Often their wives stay home and their children go to the best schools, become professionals, and do not do nearly as well financially as their parents did.

"Professionals" do okay on average, but there is a large cost to keeping up appearances with our neighbors and peers. For every millionaire partner in a big law firm, there are a lot of lawyers that simply make a pretty good living.

I agree the statements regarding choices that have to be made to have a parent stay home do presume a certain level of livlihood and stability. But it is not as high as many of us think, many people are just not willing to make the financial compromises that staying home takes. In addition to the "lower" standard of living, these include items discussed here, such as delayed contribution to retirement, etc.

Posted by: Another DC Mom | July 19, 2006 5:22 PM

I am probably posting this too late - but I am in my mid-thirties and to date my engineering friends have had reasonable experiences in the workplace.

Girls and young women seem to opt out of engineering well before encountering any curmudgeons in the workplace.
Given my profession, one thing that really interests me is that is that the number of undergraduate math degrees is about 50/50 for men/women and computer science is nowhere near that - despite the fact that the academic skills needed are very similar. My theory is that this is related to unattractive stereotypes about the field. We need to find a way to get out the message that enjoying computer games is in no way shape or form relevant!

CS also seems to be a field where flextime and telecommuting is more common with no questions asked. But again, I don't think young women (or men) are making their college major decisions with these particular sorts of job considerations in mind.

Posted by: csProf | July 19, 2006 5:26 PM

Dear What:
I can see that I am digging an even deeper hole for myself with this blog. OK so I am with Father of 4, I too am a terrible speller. Solitarian is what you get when you rely on Spell Checker to fix your spelling, and you are rushed not to get beaten to the punch by the other posters. I guess that I need to renounce my title as former salutorian!

I'll try to check my spelling and grammer a little more closely in the future.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 19, 2006 5:27 PM

Thanks to THS, lifermom, and Laura for your thoughtful and encouraging responses.

Posted by: Sam | July 19, 2006 5:50 PM

"The whole idea that there was no such thing as a two income household before the 70s is ridiculous. Okay, in the 50s, maybe, the world was prosperous, so women didn't HAVE to work - but *that* was the anomaly, not the other way around."

And let's not forget that, even in the 1950s, this was the exception, not the norm.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 19, 2006 6:07 PM

"The whole idea that there was no such thing as a two income household before the 70s is ridiculous. Okay, in the 50s, maybe, the world was prosperous, so women didn't HAVE to work - but *that* was the anomaly, not the other way around."

This is very true. Both my Grandparents worked in the 50s. My mother was a mother of the 70s and did not work outside of the home after my younger sister was born. I suspect that the one income family is something of a luxury.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 19, 2006 6:13 PM

Good to hear from you csprof!

In response to several other posters re: women in technology/engineering, I have to say that I've never encountered being held back in IT. . . as long as I was willing to put in the time, the nights, the weekends, being on call. Men who opt out of the time demanded are held back also. Gender has less to do with it than how technical and available you are.

Flextime and telecommuting, not generally a problem. But you're also on call 24/7/365, and if you need to go in to fix something, you go in. Forget overtime or comp time, and try not to work for non-technical managers--they just don't understand what you do and why they'd better not say anything if you walk in late every day (half the time my answer would be because I got beeped at 3 a.m. Again, this holds for men and women).

A lot of men in my classes (B.S., M.S.) dropped out too. I sometimes think the purpose of a CompSci education is to weed out people who aren't willing to pull all-nighters to solve a problem and who lack the focus and initiative necessary to work through frustration.

Math jobs generally don't require 24/7/365 on-call capability, which may be why women opt out or may become developers or programmers instead of sysadmins, dbas, network managers, etc. In my classes, the women who planned to have families someday went for the development/programmer jobs, even though they might pay less, because they didn't want the on-call requirements hotter jobs require.

Posted by: fract'l | July 19, 2006 7:09 PM

To SAM,

I understand exactly what you are saying. I did not have the opportunity to go to college, went right to work out of high school and have WOH ever since. I always expected to be able to support myself and didn't plan to have children. Therefore, I did not attempt to live a less expensive lifestyle and did not save for a time when I would take off from work. Lo and behold, the biological clock began ticking. By the time the children arrived, we were not in a position for one of us to stay home. And I have always regretted it. I do want my daughters to have more options, yet it is a difficult line. Children do not have adult brains and don't always interpret things the way we intend. If you emphasize that they may want to stay home someday, they may indeed interpret it as "I won't work so hard because I'm going to quit work anyway". I have teenagers who already question working hard in some subjects. "I hate math. I won't need it to teach elementary school. Why should I take a harder level?"

I struggle with the amount of debt they will take on for college. We are doing what we can. Community college before transferring is what we would prefer. But, we put the kids in a good school district and the pressure from the other kids to go to a "good" college is unbelievable. YOu would think that the CC is teaching at a kindergarten level the way some parents view kids who go there. So my daughter is so insistent on going away that she probably will and will graduate with lots of debt. It's kind of hard to be able to stay home with children if you are starting your adult life out with debt. As a poster above pointed out, having a good education doesn't guarantee a high paying position.

I just hope that my daughter matures enough in the next year or so to really improve her grades so that she will qualify for more scholarships.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 19, 2006 7:13 PM

Interestingly, Department of Labor statistics on women in the workforce do NOT discriminate between full-time and part-time employment. This means that women who work part-time and women who work full-time (and those who work 80-hour weeks!) all count the same. The one-party-a-month-Pampered Chef Consultant looks the same on paper as the overworked full-time-plus IT consultant, who looks the same as the mom doing day care from home.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics simply doesn't have a place for people like me in their system. I am lucky enough to work part-time from home, so they count me as a worker. However, I consider myself a stay-at-home-mom. So, am I who THEY say I am, or am I who I say I am?

This whole thing makes me wary of anyone who uses BLS figures to "prove" much of anything. Outdated methodologies create outdated results.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 19, 2006 7:47 PM

Fract'l, I've been managing technical staff for over 10 years and I don't really see a correlation between programmer/developer track atracting more women as compared to DBA/Sys-admin. I do hear your theory that DBA/Sysadmin may do more 24hr support than programmer/developer, but that really isn't the case at large companies that are organized to support clients vs support product/service lines.

Long story short, at big, client-centric companies our developers are on 24-hr call to support their functions as much as sysadmins are on call to support an o/s or job schedule.

My most senior, managing technologist is a 30-something female with 2 kids under 5 years old. She's a programmer and DBA by training and has learned the sysadmin/managed services stuff as she's needed to. She's in the office by 10am and gone by 6pm, but I can reach her whenever I need to. And, she's so organized and detail-oriented that I NEVER need to. I'll go into battle with her on my team any day.

I do agree with your theory that CompSci (and computer engineering and MIS and other technical) tracks are designed to weed out those who won't spend hours and hours cracking a problem. IT is a field where you fail several times before you test and de-bug your way to success, and it takes a certain temperament to flourish under that constraint. I don't know that men are "better" in that environment, but I have seen more men choose to stay in the field.

(Oh, and while we pay our entry level sysadmins more than programmers, the programmers have a salary ceiling. Both have to do some amount of management to exceed about $120k.)

Posted by: Proud Papa | July 19, 2006 10:05 PM

...meant to say the programmers have a *higher* salary ceiling.

Posted by: Proud Papa | July 19, 2006 10:09 PM

To the 7:13 poster: As a mother, teacher, college grad, debtless person, I urge you to NOT take on debt for your daughter. No matter how much you love her. If you CAN afford to pay her tuition at the local CC, you might sit down with her and show her the numbers. If she takes out loans, how much she will have to repay for how many years, etc. Teenager are notoriously stupid, however, as was I, and she may not get it, but occasionally they do listen. Or have a respected adult talk to her about it. We have been telling our kids since day 1 that they were living at home and going to a local school. We even bought a house with extra amenities for that purpose. Will it work? Will I want them around? We shall see--the best laid plans! Sidebar on the teenager actually listening: my sister's daughter was telling me that she was going to buy a 15 thousand dollar car. She had 9K in the bank and was financing the rest. She was going to get a job while going to college. I told her that I didn't get my first new car (which was a mistake) until I was much older than she was, and if she bought a decent used one for 5K, she could have some actual savings and even take a trip to someplace cool! And do you know what? SHE LISTENED TO ME! It was so cool.

Posted by: parttimer | July 19, 2006 10:39 PM

I understand exactly what you are saying. I did not have the opportunity to go to college, went right to work out of high school and have WOH ever since.


everyone in this country has the opportunity to go to college. It's all in what you are willing to do to get there.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2006 7:05 AM

* everyone in this country has the opportunity to go to college. It's all in what you are willing to do to get there.*

You're right. I wasn't willing to go to school part time for 13 or more years in addition to working full time because I needed to support myself and help out my mother who was living in poverty because she was a traditional 50's SAHM who was left high and dry by my father when he walked out and left her with 3 kids, no support, and no job skills. Sorry if I think of this as not having the opportunity rather than just not being willing to do what it takes.

My sister chose that route because she thinks the education is paramount, and she is single and childless. If I could have worked parttime and gone to school, I would have, but I wasn't willing to live a life of only work and school for that many years while neglecting my personal life.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2006 7:36 AM

"Fract'l, I've been managing technical staff for over 10 years and I don't really see a correlation between programmer/developer track atracting more women as compared to DBA/Sys-admin."

I hear you. I was speaking to CSProf's initial statement that women stayed out of CS. For my undergraduate degree and the women I was in class with, my statement about development/programmers is true. (It was believed the job was interesting but you were less on call). I was thinking, later, that in my graduate classes, it's not true that women opted out of any specialty. This is strictly personal experience, a small test group.

I work for a large concern, and I agree--our developers/analysts are on 24 hour call also--but I'd also have to say that in my group, they're called less often than I am. Just goes with the specialty.

Posted by: Proud Papa | July 20, 2006 7:47 AM

Oops. I guess I'm not going out of my way to make any system changes this morning! The previous note was from me, to Proud Papa, not from Proud Papa.

Oh, and while my company is client-centric, my tech group is product/service support.

Posted by: fract'l | July 20, 2006 7:52 AM

to parttimer,

it sounds like your children may not yet be teenagers. My daughter is chomping at the bit to be on her own and out of the house away from the mean parents. There is a real possiblity that she would move out and share an apartment with a friend if she attended the CC, which would probably result in her quitting school when she realized that she could do nothing other than pay rent.

So, we have decided to let her live on campus, paying what we can and borrowing the rest. She is restricted to schools in state within a certain distance to reduce transportation expenses.

She won't be the only person with student loan debt, and we won't be the only parents either. I am able to make an ok living, but now you can't get your foot in the door without a degree and the difference in earning power is vast, so yes we will go in debt even though we wish we didn't have to.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2006 7:52 AM

To 7:52 am poster:

It sounds like you have done everything that you can to figure out the finances, scholarships, loans, etc. But in any event, through work I had reason to familiarize myself with some of the loan repayment programs available through the Department of Education. There's all sorts of things in terms of consolidation, repayment plans based on your income, etc. That's not to say you (or your daughter) don't ultimately have to pay it all back with interest or have your credit record ruined forever, but just be sure to look into the various repayment options. They really seem to be surprisingly flexible. The website is www.ed.gov or www.studentaid.ed.gov.

And there's nothing wrong with state schools. We plan on making the same requirement of our children. I don't know much about the community college system or the ability to transfer from a community college to a four-year college. I know some state four-year colleges are setting up programs to automatically accept community college students who have kept up a certain GPA. I think William and Mary, in Virginia, may be one of them. W&M also has a program of grants for state students with high academic potential but low economic resources. See www.wm.edu/gateway/. I do not know where you live or what your daughter's grades are, but other schools may have similar programs.

Posted by: Sam | July 20, 2006 8:44 AM

I used to teach at a Community College. From my experience, the kids who took their courses seriously and got good grades (A or high B) were able to transfer out at the end of 1 or 2 years of CC, many with full or partial scholarships. If they seemed intellectually curious and willing to do the work (instead of skipping class/ sleeping in class/ plagiarizing papers-- a RAMPANT problem) then I had no trouble writing good recommendations for them to good 4-year colleges. All the better if they were able to achieve the GPA to take honor's level courses (if available at that CC). Community Colleges cater to a wide variety of backgrounds and abilities, so the student really needs to work to show that they're serious, instead of just doing the minimum necessary to pass the class.

Posted by: Ingrid | July 20, 2006 9:33 AM

I wish I knew why more women don't go into CS/IT, and even more why the women who are there tend to be lower-ranking than the men. Women may be well represented in IT and the pay differential is almost nil according to studies I've seen, but if you go to a tech conference, almost all the participants (whose companies paid for them to be there) are male. In the ten years or so that I've been attending such events, I'd estimate that the average female (technical, not marketing support for a booth) attendance is about 2%. Sometimes less, depending on the show. And there are almost no female speakers.

One thing I have noticed from the limited pool of women I've been able to observe is that the women, if they last, tend to work themselves to death more than the men. This is of course only the people I've known and what I've seen.

About it being more flexible... perhaps. Well, probably, compared to a lot of jobs. However, "IT" covers a great deal of ground. My IT job is very flexible but it's also very unusual (and "flexible" sometimes means that I'm working very late or very early). My girlfriend's IT job is semi-flexible because she does not need to be in an office most of the time, and when I worked at a very large software company people typically came into the office to work--not really flexible at all.

Posted by: Woman in IT | July 20, 2006 9:42 AM

Your story is sad, but sorry it's not unique, so don't act like you couldn't go to college and don't complain about your life. I get so tired of listening to people say I can't do it, and have a couple of kids and then whine because they have no money. Even if it took you 13 years to get through school you would have only been 31, you could have started a career and then had some kids. the life you have is the life you made. Why can't you go back to school now?


And parttimer, way to control your kids by keeping them at home. They don't need to be adults and go away to college.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2006 10:17 AM

Thanks, scarry! :~) I appreciate the welcome.

Since we are staying way off topic, I can add my data point to the women in engineering discussion. Maybe this topic should officially morph into that one.

I am an Aerospace Engineer in the Space Program, and from my experience women have drawn near even in math and many of the sciences, but for some reason they make up still very small percentages in Engineering. This has always been a puzzle to me. Outreach efforts in the discipline have made some headway, but I'd be surprised if women make up even 15% of the Engineering degreees even now. It was probalby at 5% when I graduated.

I know many women in the field well, and they don't complain about conditions. If anything, the desire to offer advancement for females seems relatively high, probably because of their scarcity.

Of course, because lots of folks like the space program, many of the women come here through other degree majors. One of these days maybe the attraction to the engineering profession will finally overcome it's stumbling block in the female lexicon.

And please hurry ladies--I'm tired of looking around at the same guys all the time!!

Maybe the WP blog section can include a spell check function for us posters, like some other places do. C'mon, it isn't that hard or expensive.

Scarry, closing question. So just what is a guy's favoroite body part then?? ;-)

Posted by: TexasDadof2 | July 20, 2006 10:55 AM

To the 7:13, :36 :52 etc poster (give yourself a name, make it easier on us all!!)

I'll put in a plug for allowing your daughter to go to school where she wants to, even if it means taking on debt. I took on debt, and so did my parents, in order to go to the school that I knew fit my personality best, that would be challenging and exciting, and that had an excellent program in the area I wanted to study, and I am so glad I did. I worked while in school to defray the costs, and was able to pay off my loans just in time to take on new loans to go to law school. Debt sucks, but some debt is a lot more worth it than other debt. School debt, to my mind, is worth it if it means going to a school that gives you the education you need, crave, want, etc.

I don't mean to say that community colleges cannot fit that bill - they absolutely can and I know a lot of people who have gone on from CC's and done great. But if your daughter isn't happy there, and feels like she was forced to go there, chances are she's not going to feel motivated, invested, etc and may not apply herself the way she needs to in order to get the education she wants.

It sounds like you are struggling with all the 'right' questions, and as long as you are open, honest and engaged with your daughter on this, I think you and she will find the answer that is right for you both.

Good luck!

PS - I hope you can ignore the comments about the opportunities and choices you had regarding college - sounds like a tough situation that you handled well and trying to avoid for your daughter. Good for you.

Posted by: Megan | July 20, 2006 11:33 AM

Well, TexasDadof2, let me put it this way:

My husband ducks out of work early and tells his boss he needs to spend time with the twins.

We don't have children...

Posted by: Meesh | July 20, 2006 11:46 AM

To totally off topic about being 5 weeks pregnant (if it's not too late) --

Found out I was pregnant with my second child at 13 weeks. I had gone through infertility treatments for child #1, and was still nursing at the time I got pregnant with #2. Considering wildly irregular cycles were a major part of my fertility isssues, it NEVER occurred to me that I might have gotten pregnant on my own. In fact, I had already called my infertility doc to schedule an appointment to start cycle-regulating hormones.

I was a finalist for two very interesting jobs when I found out. I disclosed and didn't get either one.

So could someone "not know" at five weeks? That's only one week late from LMP, so absolutely. Stress alone can delay things.

Posted by: Derwood Mom | July 20, 2006 12:05 PM

To JustaMom and others lamenting the role feminism heaped upon them, I would like to point out that you may have misunderstood the message. Or you heard the message that the patriarchy sent in response to the feminist movement (i.e., they're not on your side and they're not like you).

Feminism taught us that women deserve to be well rounded in the same way man are (contributing to society, meeting peers, and financially supporting our own lifestyle by working). However, because we were taking on more responsibility, we would be unable to continue to be the sole childcare provider and housekeeper. So we as women had to ensure that we partnered with a person who understood that everything had to be split down the middle in terms of responsibility for the home. Ideally, that person would gladly take on more responsibility in the home to let the woman take on more financial responsibility.

The way this actually played out in our patriarchal society is women took on more financial responsibility and continued to take the majority of the responsibility for the child-rearing and housework. The reasons? Of the many, one is that men did not hear this message, and women did not do enough to educate men so that they could be included in the movement. So for them it was business as usual.

Now, before a bunch of men jump on me for being a man hater, I don't mean every man. I also don't mean every woman--I for one did not misunderstand the message.

I simply wanted to point out that feminism did not fail us--we failed feminism.

Posted by: Meesh | July 20, 2006 12:10 PM

Gee Texas dad,

You have everything I am looking for, engineer works in the space industry! Just kidding, you could be my husband,he has a similar job.

Oh and the body part, well I have to say that I met my husband in a hot sweaty factory during the summer time. He was wearing a lot of cut off shorts and shirts, so I'll let you guess which body part I like best! Oh, I'll just say it, i'm a butt girl.

I love it when you dads come one here and are funny, it makes the blog so much better!

Posted by: scarry | July 20, 2006 12:14 PM

Meesh--you go girl!! Were you bragging or complaining? :~)

Scarry--thanks again! Is your husband associated with GSFC, or HQ? That's assumes you are DC-based of course, as so many of the posters here are.

Actually, you inverted my question, though you raise another interesting one. I was curious which body part you ladies thought us guys were most interested in, since you suggested to Fof4 earlier it wasn't the female waist that men were most atrracted to.

But concerning the answer you did provide, it has been my unscientific personal belief for some time that most of you are "butt" girls. Perhaps the other posters will prove me wrong.

For I have five sisters, so perhaps I have some clue about how little men truly understand the female mind...though I admit most of you are clever enough to afford us the fiction that we are in charge of things. Diabolically clever, that...

Posted by: TexasDadof2 | July 20, 2006 1:05 PM

Scarry,
Many women like to pretend that they are looking at a man's butt, but what they are doing in actuality, is looking at the size of his wallet.

Of coarse, there is an optical illusion effect that goes both ways. A nice thick, fat, loaded wallet makes the butt seem a little firmer, and a nice tight little butt makes the wallet appear bigger.

My wife says she married me because I had big hands, which I suppose she thought that maybe someday I would become "handy".

And having shared that thought, It's time for me to go pump some iron at the gynm.

Posted by: Father of 4 | July 20, 2006 1:09 PM

"Interestingly, Department of Labor statistics on women in the workforce do NOT discriminate between full-time and part-time employment. This means that women who work part-time and women who work full-time (and those who work 80-hour weeks!) all count the same...I am lucky enough to work part-time from home, so they count me as a worker. However, I consider myself a stay-at-home-mom. So, am I who THEY say I am, or am I who I say I am?"

Since I learned of this way that gov't statistics report "working moms" and "SAHM moms" I've often wondered if the statistics thrown around really underreport SAHMs as a lifestyle. I know many women (myself included) who consider themselves "SAHMs" even though they do some part-time work, either at home or out of the home.

I see myself as a SAHM because I am "home" with the kids every day all day, except Saturdays and one weekday evening. I mostly spend time with other SAHMs (some who also work, some who don't). But I also work out of the home 10 hrs per week and do some freelance work at home, about a project every other month. So you could call me a WAHM or a WOHM too.

PT work is a huge gray area and there is a big difference between someone who works "part time" for 30 hours a week and one who works on the occasional project.

Posted by: Suzanne | July 20, 2006 2:04 PM

haha, you guys are so funny, you are right, I was looking at his wallet, but it was his future wallet because when we met he didn't have anything.

Texas dad, we are moving away from DC to MO where my husband is going to work for a defense contractor. Yeah, me no more city!

Posted by: scarry | July 20, 2006 2:32 PM

texasdadof 2


I think men are either boobs or butt. My husbad says he likes butt, but I don't have one. If I sit on a wood chair I can feel my bones!

Posted by: scarry | July 20, 2006 2:41 PM

I didn't say not to let the kid go where she wanted to go, and I didn't say I wanted to control my kids until they were 30. I just want them (poster's kid and mine) to have the facts. How much did you know about money, interest, rent and loan repayment when you were 18? Ask any financial planner, and they will tell you to save for retirement first THEN save for college. My daughter will be 17 when she graduates from high school. I think an extra year to mature and develop would be great, and I want to offer her that chance. If she really wants to go out of state, fine, but she had better have some good reasons and the desire to pay back loans. I am prepared to pay for in state tuition. My husband, on the other hand, says that if she gets into Harvard then she is going! I agree that some debt is fine, but going 100K in the hole for a degree that might top out at 40K ( I am thinking of my non-profit friends, not my lawyer friends)doesn't make sense when you can get the basics for a lot less. I don't want them to be saddled with huge loans for 15 years because I want them to be able to choose the noble jobs if they want. Who really knows what they want at 17 or 18? How many people are working in the fields they started in?

And last time I checked, the students at most universities were FAR from adults.

Posted by: parttimer | July 20, 2006 3:13 PM

Many top schools now have a sliding scale for which to base tuition on. For example, if an accepted student's parents make under 60K a year, they are not expected to pay for any tuition, and so on down the line. It isn't like this at every school, but definetely worth looking into. It's easier to apply to schools she's interested in AND state schools, and then weed out after you've found out your financial aid situation. I went to a private college, helped pay my way through it, and got an incredible job after school (yes, you can get great jobs from state schools, this is just one experience). Now, not only can I pay off my own loans, but I am helping my younger sibling financially and with professional contacts in his dream job field.

Posted by: Just a thought | July 20, 2006 3:27 PM

Actually, I think many of us underreport or overreport our working situations ourselves, depending on the circumstances.

The Dept of Labor considers me a 'working mom' because I teach one course a semester at our local college, even though I spend most of the day with our kids.

I tend to call myself a SAHM, unless I'm being pressured to sign on for some particularly loathsome volunteer opportunity, then all of a sudden it's "Oh, I can't! Don't you know? I work!"

Posted by: About Those Labor Statistics | July 20, 2006 3:29 PM

Excuse me, I meant to say Many top schools now have a sliding scale on which they base tuition. I submitted before previewing.

Posted by: Just a thought | July 20, 2006 3:29 PM

Scarry--thanks for your reply. Either way, it involves curves. Real curves. Now I'll bring it back around to where I was headed on the subject.

I think women as a group place way to much emphasis on thinness. Despite glamour magazines obsessions to the contrary, 99 out of 100 guys I've ever known prefer J-Lo type curves to Ally McBeal beanpole-ness any day. Yet far too many women are convinced that all guys want are skinny girls.

Maybe if we all work at it, we can convince (especially coming from Moms) our daughters that healthy bodies and generous curves are what make women feminine and attractive to guys.

Then we might end up with fewer Mary Kate and Ashleys (sp?) in the world. Here's to hoping.

Enjoy MO, scarry! Personally, after spending two years in DC, I was frantically ready to get back to Texas. Native San Antonians like me risk fatal Tex-Mex withdrawal living around DC. Even though Houston is still not San Antonio, they at least have a culinary clue.

Posted by: TexasDadof2 | July 20, 2006 3:33 PM

thanks texasdadof2,

I am from Northeast Ohio and I don't care for the city and the hectic pace. I've heard there is barbaque out there so I am super excited.

Posted by: scarry | July 20, 2006 3:45 PM

Monster gives "factoids" not stats but it lists Software Engineer as a good field for telecommuting, part-time, and contract work
http://jobprofiles.monster.com/Content/job_content/JC_ComputersSoftware/JSC_SoftwareDevelopment/JOB_software_engineer/jobzilla_html?jobprofiles=1

Their lawyer "factoids" list long hours...
http://jobprofiles.monster.com/Content/job_content/copy2_of_JC_LegalServices/JSC_Attorneys/JOB_022_attorney/jobzilla_html?jobprofiles=1

Posted by: csProf | July 20, 2006 4:02 PM

"* everyone in this country has the opportunity to go to college. It's all in what you are willing to do to get there.*

"You're right. I wasn't willing to go to school part time for 13 or more years in addition to working full time because I needed to support myself and help out my mother who was living in poverty because she was a traditional 50's SAHM who was left high and dry by my father when he walked out and left her with 3 kids, no support, and no job skills. Sorry if I think of this as not having the opportunity rather than just not being willing to do what it takes.

Posted by: | July 20, 2006 07:36 AM"

As someone who took exactly 13 years to graduate from college, financed it all herself while working full time and supporting a husband in grad school, and now has a great job with a BA, I can say with authority you had the opportunity, you just chose not to take it.

Posted by: PTJobFTMom | July 20, 2006 5:03 PM

"I can say with authority you had the opportunity, you just chose not to take it."

And taking the opportunity would help to ensure that if she herself were ever in the position of being a SAHM who is left by her husband, that she would have options for work that her mother did not have.

I realize that options can also be created by going straight to work out of high school, but this is one of the things that bothers me when people use the "oh, you have to continue to work in case your husband leaves you!" No, I went to college and graduate school and worked full time for 13 years before "opting out" so that if something awful happens, I *do* have marketable skills. Maybe I wouldn't be able to jump back in where I left off 6 years ago, but I could support my family. Most SAHMs are not in the same situation our 50's counterparts were.

Posted by: momof4 | July 20, 2006 5:16 PM

I've loved reading people's stories about their successes with part time work today. It's interesting to move beyond the eithor/or debate (SAH vs. WOH) and hear from women who've found creative ways to weave work and family into their lives.

Posted by: Friend | July 20, 2006 5:33 PM

Excuse me, I meant to say Many top schools now have a sliding scale on which they base tuition. I submitted before previewing.

wow, this is great, so people who worked hard to get ahead so their kids can have stuff can be punished. And their kids can take out student loans and be in debt, that's wonderful.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2006 7:47 PM


For uncensored news please go to:
www.wsws.org
www.onlinejournal.com
www.takingaim.info
otherside123.blogspot.com

McKinney votes stolen by Diebold; the electronic vote manipulation network and you

By Larry Chin

In her Georgia primary election, Cynthia McKinney has been forced into a run off election against a political unknown, a relative flea/cockroach, Hank Johnson. It has been confirmed that McKinney votes were stolen by Diebold machines that flipped her votes over to Johnson. Johnson's sole qualification is that he is not McKinney. That's enough for the powerful forces aligned against her.

It is no surprise that McKinney, an outspoken and vocal critic of the Bush administration, as well as someone despised by the corrupt leadership of the Democratic Party, is again facing the prospect of being removed by dirty tricks and criminal means. She was similarly removed in the midterm primary of 2002, when Bush Republicans, and the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), pulled out all the stops to replace McKinney with pro-war/pro-Israel/Republican-in-hiding candidate Denise Majette. (With Hank Johnson, here we go again.) McKinney is one of the only members of Congress to dare attempt an official inquiry into 9/11. McKinney was recently set up and scandalized in the halls of Congress, ridiculously accused of assaulting the security guard who harassed her. Few, if any, Democrats have stood by her side.

If McKinney does not prevail, it comes at another opportune moment for the Bush administration (and the Israeli lobby), and the Democratic leadership, all hell bent on removing any resistance to a full-scale war in the Middle East and beyond; resistance to the final destruction of US democracy.

For the naïve and deeply insane who continue to dream about "taking back America in November," get this through your thick skulls: there will be no vote. There has been no "election" since 2000. There will not be one now, or possibly ever.

The American vote count is controlled by four corporations, Diebold, ESS, Sequoia, and SAIC. All four are hard-wired into the neocon/Bush power structure.

The machines control the vote. BushCo. controls the machines. Repeat this over and over.
Until that changes, there is nothing more to say. You had better do something else.

Posted by: che | July 21, 2006 12:51 AM

To the poster at 7:47 pm who wrote: "wow, this is great, so people who worked hard to get ahead so their kids can have stuff can be punished. And their kids can take out student loans and be in debt, that's wonderful." I was going to write a longer reply explaining the point of financial aid, but then I realized, under your premise, if people "worked hard to get ahead," but their kids still needed to take out loans, then obviously their parents didn't work hard ENOUGH (since their kids still have to take out loans). As you so aptly phrased it.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 21, 2006 9:38 AM

"Maybe if we all work at it, we can convince (especially coming from Moms) our daughters that healthy bodies and generous curves are what make women feminine and attractive to guys."

Hooray for TexasDad! I say let's take it a step further and teach our daughters to love their bodies and be healthy and not worry so much about the guys. My personal feeling is that parents of daughters AND sons have to learn to love their own bodies, or at least not be critical of their bodies (or other people's, for that matter) in front of their children, if we want to help our children learn to have positive body images - not that this is enough alone to overcome all the other forces, but at least it's a start.

Posted by: Megan | July 21, 2006 11:02 AM

The nine-day trial made public other problems the academy usually keeps private. The testimony of several witnesses, some of them granted immunity, touched on sex, binge drinking, cheating and lying -- taboos at a school that tries to instill in its students the ideals of honor, courage and commitment."

This is from the front page of this paper. This is a place where the students are some of the best and brightest. Not that different in their behavior than the 'adults' at other schools. A couple of striking differences--the tuition and room and board is FREE and you are guaranteed a job when you are done! There--how is that for a solution to the economic crunch?

Posted by: parttimer | July 21, 2006 11:51 AM

If the machines did their job, then there wouldn't be a runoff in the election, would there? Mckinney would just have lost...

Posted by: Anonymous | July 21, 2006 11:53 AM

An elementary school teacher most certainly needs to know math - how else would he/she teach it to the students?
My theory for why people always say they hate math: most of their teachers, from a young age, hate it, so they pass it on to their kids.

Yes, my fellow classmates (I have degrees in math) seemed to have been 50/50 men/women, most of those who had dropped out of engineering - the profs, back in the 80s/90s were quite sexist, and that is my belief as to why women left. however, in today's environment, I would suspect that that's not as much the case, but who knows.

Posted by: atlmom | July 21, 2006 11:55 AM

Thank you, Megan.

Hope everyone has a nice weekend.

Taking my two kids to the beach this weekend. It may be hot in Texas (as elsewhere) right now, but we'll see if we can beat the heat.

Posted by: TexasDadof2 | July 21, 2006 12:04 PM

Hello:

Your article "Fewer Women at work" is fascinating and informative.

If more women stay at home to look after their children and take care of their husbands, perhaps, the children will grow up to become responsible, employed, productive law abiding citizens, instead of welfare parasites, hardcore drug addicts and criminals.

And if the husbands are well taken care of to meet their sexual and emotional needs, they will not be tempted to cheat on their wives which often leads to the break up of the family.

And besides, this can reverse the increasing ugly trend of American families' tendencies towards becoming dysfunctional with their repugnant consequences.

I am in favor of the mothers staying home to take care of the family and the husbands.

But not for free.

I will like to see a law enacted by Congress to reward mothers for not only staying at home to care for their husbands and children, but also for child bearing.

If you examine all the problems in the society with a microscope, you should not be surprised to find most originate from the consequences of dysfunctional families.

But the sad truth here is that the society never looks at the roots of its problems but prefers to cut the branches of the tree of the problems.

But the more it cuts the branches, the more they grow back bigger and stronger because the roots are still there, growing deeper into the ground.

It is foolish to cut the branches of the tree of problems.

The smart thing to do, is to cut the roots, and the tree with all of its branches of problems will die.

So, I hope Americans will vote for me as their next President, let me cut the roots of the tree of their problems with one swift blow. (Just kidding, I will never be a politician)

Maychic
http://www.maychic.com

Posted by: Maychic | July 23, 2006 2:41 AM

For everyone who uses their own experiences to decide that people had the same opportunities, maybe you should check out the history of financial aid in this country.
http://www.chessconsulting.org/financialaid/history.htm

There are grandparents and other parents of minor children who are over age 45 who read this blog. The world was a different place in the 60's and 70's than it was in the 80's and 90's.

In my own case, my parents were born in the early 30's and were raised with Depression-era beliefs that you shouldn't borrow money other than a mortgage and shouldn't do anything you couldn't pay for immediately. They were both high-school dropouts (fairly common back then) who wanted better for their children. The children graduated high school which made the parents proud.

There was no money to pay for college, so you went to work instead. The thought of borrowing for college was as inconceivable as growing a pair of wings and flying. Boys could still get good physical labor manufacturing jobs (auto makers and steel plants for example) and girls could be secretaries and bookkeepers and together they could still live a decent middle class life.

Even though I was a good student and took college prep courses in high school, no one ever provided information about how to prepare, apply, and pay for college - including the school guidance counselor. They asked each student what their post-graduation plans were. I told the counselor that I was planning to get a job, and the counselor never mentioned college as an option even though I was "college-material".

In my case, I did get a job with a company that chose to train entry-level employees for advancement as well as hire college grads for mid-level positions. I have worked my way up and now work side by side with (and make the same salary as) people with bachelor's degrees.

Late post because I have been away. Sorry for the length. It would be nice if people would take a statement that "I never had the opportunity to ..." and respond with options and solutions for everyone to have those options now rather than just attacking others.

Posted by: 70sgirl | July 23, 2006 11:01 AM

Hi all,

I have been hanging out and reading for a while. Thought I would jump in here with a different perspective. I am a single foster parent who works outside the home. I am in the final stages of adopting my daughter (who I have had in my life since she was 5 weeks old). I am fortunate because I have an advanced degree and work at a University. I have a lot of vacation and sick days and my children are in a daycare that is just 2 minutes away.

I love my work and would never consider staying at home. Because I support all of us it is not really an option and my benefits package (including retirement and fee tuition for my family) makes it undesirable.I don't, however, feel that it is really necessary for me to be at home all day with my kids for them to know that I love them and for us to build a strong family.

I have many friends that are both stay at home mothers and working mothers and pretty much it is individual choice based on your financial situation, marital situation, and level of patience! In my circle of friends we do try, however, to be cognizant of the fact that all of our realities are different and we try not to judge each other based on our lives.

I am often amazed when some of my older family members make comments like "oh, when you get married, you will be able to stay at home with the kids" or "when are you going to find a man to support you." As if. Many of the guys I have dated (including my current love interest) have expressed the desire to be house husbands or stay at home dads in the future. I have no problem with that. . . now convincing my grandmother might be a different story.

Posted by: creatingapath | July 24, 2006 4:13 PM

I should probably post this higher up on some other blog, where it'll get seen, but Leslie, can we please have a discussion on women who have taken substantial time as SAHMs and are now trying (with, without success?) to reenter the professional work force? Examples, anecdotes, studies? There is so much talk about the decision to leave, but no one ever tells how the story plays out later! Thanks!

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