Women in the western world are actually very lucky in many ways. Now there are so many choices for women – education, full time career, part time work, family, no family, travel, etc.
But for men there does not seem to be so many choices. Many women of my acquaintance have decided to take career breaks, to leave work and raise a family, to work part time and pursue a hobby or education.
However, amongst the men of my acquaintance those who make similar ‘lifestyle’ choices are in the minority. Instead men seem to have a linear set of options: get an education, get a job, perhaps have a family, retire, die.
The multiplicity of ‘lifestyle’ options seems to be passing many of them by. I wonder why?
One thing that the big focus nowadays on so-called ‘family friendly’ workplaces (including maternity/paternity/parental leave) has overlooked is that this excludes the many people who for various reasons do not have children. The question is ‘what about us’? While parents are getting time off, more ‘family friendly’ rosters are implemented (etc.) who but the childless are left holding the fort in this 24×7 world of work?
Not meaning to sound grumpy here, but what is an employer going to give me in return for coming to work every day, not leaving early, working unpaid overtime, covering so-called ‘family’ un-friendly shifts, etc?
The other annoying thing is that I’m not considered part of the ‘family friendly’ world because it only counts children not other relationships. So tough luck if your only family is another adult (like maybe a few gay or lesbian couples out there?).
In essence these ‘family friendly’ policies are rewarding those with offspring and punishing those without. The sooner employers start to see this the quicker they will stop the inevitable revolt amongst the childless. In fact, the revolt may already have begun:
There are a number of womens’ groups that I participate in, several of these are related to women in technology. The feeling seems to be that hardly any women are in positions of influence and that there is something wrong with this.
There was a recent article by Bob Weinstein (Monster.com “IT Glass Ceiling: Permanent Barrier or Temporary Obstacle for Women”). There has been some discussion online about this article, saying things like “Wonderful. An article by a man suggesting that if women just acted more like men, they could get ahead just fine. Men have been in charge long enough, and look where it’s gotten us: shaky economy, environmental collapse, a culture of fear.
I can’t help but think that if women were encouraged to approach everything as women being women and not masquerading as men, things might be different. ” (kittiarra).
This got me thinking – should this lead us to rehash the old women are better than men farago, the idea that men have stuffed up the world & if only they’d let women run things everything would be beautiful?
Or is it an insight into the power structures of our organisations? That is, the power structures remain predicated on people devoting their lives to the company, usually (if they are men) supported by a full time carer (stay-at-home wife).