Mommyism? Sexism?

14 Sep

Kelli Goff, a writer at and The Huffington Post, has a very interesting article about the new sexism: Mommyism.  She reports that U.S. Census data shows working women under thirty are out-earning their male counterparts.  Sounds like great news. right? Yes, definitely. But the women who are out earning their male counterparts are all childless. I find this a fascinating fact and one that points to an interesting dilemma for the modern woman.  Can we only be as successful as our male counterparts if we don’t get pregnant and have children? Is being “mommy tracked” a reality of the modern career woman?

I have to say I LOVE Kelli’s take on this whole issue. She concludes her article by saying:

The only way women are going to achieve true parity with men is by convincing the ones in our lives to help us do so. Instead of pressuring the men in our management offices to help us achieve work/life balance, how about pressuring the men in our homes to help out more with the kids?

I have always been strongly in favor of women owning their destiny and doing what it takes to make their lives and their futures completely their responsibility. I have never been one to complain or blame anyone else for something that I don’t get, or wasn’t given. I am a strong proponent of just doing what it takes to be successful. And I do believe that what it takes for a woman to be successful and driven in her career and to be a mother is involving the man who made her a mother, and as much extended family as possible.

I also think that women have to stop apologizing for what it takes to be a mom and be successful in their careers.  Just make it happen. In our last management off-site meeting a month ago, I had to sit in the back of the room, with my nursing shield on, and pump milk 3 times. I didn’t have a choice. I had to be in the meeting, the meeting was an all day off site, and I had to pump milk.  I didn’t apologize for what I had to do, I just made sure I was covered, and discreet (as discreet as you  can be with a motor whirring away in the background).  By just doing what I needed to do and not disrupting the meeting, no one can complain that my being a mother has affected my job or their jobs. I think this is the bottom line.  In business no one cares what the excuse is–at the end of the day it is just a reason something that should have been done did not get done. So figure out your personal balance, and make it work to accomplish everything that you need to do at work to keep advancing and moving your career along.

In a perfect world, of course, my feelings and advice work. Unfortunately, I know there are women who are not in jobs where they can make the choices about maternity leave (mine consisted of 2 weeks off, and then baby came into the office with me until he was 4 months old and ready to stay at home with a nanny) breastfeeding in the office, or pumping at meetings that I can make.  I run a company, I make those calls. To the women who are out there and not in my position, I say these are the things we need to fight for in order to combat “mommyism.” Fight for the right to be a mom and prove that you can still do your work. Fight for a better workplace environment that would allow a very young nursing baby to come to the office. Fight for better  pumping rooms that have workstations and allow you to pump and work at the same time. Fight for the right to prove that you have the support at home (from a man, your family, close friends, whoever) that you need to make sure your personal life stays personal. Fight for the right to make your own decision about how motherhood will affect your career.


One Response to “Mommyism? Sexism?”

  1. Tamara September 15, 2010 at 8:18 am #

    Amen! It’s so refreshing to hear someone advocate for high performance AND motherhood without suggesting that the 2 ideas are mutually exclusive. I only wish my last employer had such a progressive CEO. (Today, I kind of do…I work as an independent consultant. Taking a traditional mat leave wasn’t possible for me, but working from home and enlisting help from family is.)

    I’m going to think of you if/when I start to seriously consider bringing breast feeding to an end earlier than my original plan. I brought my kids, husband and in-laws with me to a board offsite this weekend, just so I could maintain my breast feeding routine. It wasn’t 100% effortless, but it was completely worth it. Should I feel tempted to wean early, I’ll reflect on your blog post and stick with it.

    Thanks for the great example and continued encouragement

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