I have a couple of things to say about this article. First, Sonia Sotomayor’s teeth are amazing. Like a force of nature. And second, this is totally depressing but not really that surprising to me. I’ve heard smart, hard working people (both men and women) say that it’s only fair that women earn less because they get to take maternity leave and don’t work as hard once they have kids. Which – AGH. I just am always dumbfounded when I hear these words come out of someone’s mouth. I mean, I get that if you don’t work as much, you don’t get paid as much, and you don’t advance as quickly — but the fact is that women disproportionately work less (or drop out altogether) and suffer the consequences. And this study pretty clearly shows that these are women who are just as qualified and skilled as their male counterparts.
As someone who recently cut back her work schedule (and paycheck) to try to find some work-life balance, I wonder if I’m part of the problem. Post-baby #1 I tried to bill just as many hours as I did pre-baby, but (1) there weren’t enough hours in the day, and (2) I ultimately decided I didn’t want to. I wonder if my choice to cut back is coloring some hiring partner’s feelings about working moms? Hope not. I’m just lucky I had the chance to try a part-time schedule. Lots of my friends didn’t have that option and felt like giving up their career was their only good option, and articles like this explain why.
Semi-related: I remember when I was in law school and beginning the hellish “fall recruitment” interviewing season, a woman attorney who I really respected told me two things that totally apalled me: one, I shouldn’t wear my engagement ring in interviews because it would be a red flag that I would be “one of those women” who gets all wedding crazy and isn’t committed to her career. And two, she told me that while guys could talk about their family plans or kids in an interview, women never could — for men, getting married and having kids is a plus and shows that you’re stable and grounded, but for women, it just shows that you have a distraction outside the office and won’t be as committed to your career. I have had that story in the back of my mind for almost a decade now, and I’ve seen more things that support those anecodotes than things that discredit them. Hello, my name is Jaded N. Cynical.
Anywho. I don’t really have any answers, but these articles just always get me fired up. I keep hoping that one day we just won’t see stuff like this anymore, about odds being stacked against talented successful women. Women who are raising kids, which society says is noble and important, blah blah blah, but doesn’t do much to back it up. I agree with Leonhardt’s optimism — things are bound to change, especially with incredible numbers of women coming out of college and grad school these days and employers beginning to see the benefits of flexible work arrangements. Here’s hoping it’s sooner rather than later.