OK kittens. If you are a true KT friend and fan, you know that I make my own rules. I might have said a while back that I am banning all talk of stupid studies about moms and work and imposing judgment on all of us. I believe I even threatened to ban you from my blog if you sent me a link.
C’est vrai. I did. And I meant it at the time. But I am the queen of the land, the kitty of the blog, so I can lift self-imposed bans on a whim. I can even rewrite the rules. It’s fun being the supreme dictator of your own blog. And so today, I am going to rant about an op-ed in today’s NYT that a dear KT friend and beloved fan, emailed to me.
The title of this ridiculous piece is “Off to Work She Should Go”:
And Ms. Hirshman, in her infinite wisdom, attempts to wax poetic on all the reasons that women are “opting out” of the workforce when they have children, all the potential harms this brings to society and business, and how this trend is particularly true for those with husbands in the top 20% of earning power.
I’m really left wondering, why did the NYT even run this piece and what is new and original about anything she is saying? Far as I can tell, it’s the same old story, different day.
And what is my beef with it today?
One beef I have with this piece is this – the reasons that women “opt-out” of the workforce cannot be lumped together in one general category. Sure, I studied marketing. I put on my brave statistics hat and went off to graduate school and learned how to analyze data and create categories and name groups of people to target them with products. But see, running the data and understanding the emotions and REASONS why women make the decisions they do – are two different things.
There is no emotion in data.
There is more emotion than anything else in having a newborn and deciding to leave that baby in someone else’s care all day long while you go off to work.
Furthermore, what really gets me in this ridiculous op-ed piece is Hirshman’s assertion that the wealthiest women forgo returning to work because it’s the easiest decision. How is deciding NOT to return to work, the easiest decision?
Not only does that claim undermine just how difficult and exhausting it is to stay home with your children full-time, it also suggests that these women are just flippantly turning their backs on the careers that they have spent a decade building up, not to mention all the years spent earning undergraduate and graduate degrees to help develop these careers.
Last time I spent an entire weekday alone with my child, instead of jetting off to work, the last thing I found myself thinking at the end of the day was “well, now that was an EASY and RELAXING day.”
And so, my advice to all these brilliant professors and statisticians and talking heads who have yet to provide any helpful advice to new mom’s out there, is this: spend a little more time TALKING to the very people you are writing about. Running the data isn’t giving you the full story. And furthermore, everyone’s story is different.
Sometime I’d like to read a piece on the emotion of having a child, the difficulty in not raising that baby fulltime because you have to go to work, or the complex set of reasons certain women decide to step out of the workforce. We aren’t marketing categories, we aren’t making incredibly complicated and difficult decisions because they are easy, nor are we worried about carrying the weight of being business role-models for future generations on our shoulders when we have our own child at home that needs her mommy.