Monday, November 14, 2005

MMO Essays: Why can't men be more like women? By Nandini Pandya

MMO Essays: Why can't men be more like women? By Nandini Pandya. This is a terrific piece ruminating on the costs and benefits of care-giving, talking especially about the ways women are differentially paying the costs. She comes up with some suggestions for change, among them this one:

"Many women would gladly settle for 75 percent pay if they could work 75 percent of the 40 hour week. Creative flextime, and job sharing arrangements can make this a viable option. In fact, I know this can work, because I have been fortunate enough to work with managers (yes, most of them men) who have seen the benefit of having a committed, passionate, dedicated and oh-so-grateful employee even though she is available only 75 percent of the time."

As always there's great stuff at Mother's Movement Online. This essay by Nandini Pandya (which I found through a link from Miriam Peskowitz's blog) is smart and helpful.

And yet. Why does even smart, committed feminist Pandya assume that it's women who will want the flextime? Why not men working 75% time for 75% pay?

Right now I'm working 100% (or more) of 40 hours a week for 100% of the salary in our house. Mark would love part-time work, but if you think it's hard for women to negotiate that, try doing it as a man. And yet creative types like Mark are among the most likely to want part-time work in some ways: pay some bills, make some art, run some errands--it's the way his life really should be organized.

There's so much more over at MMO that I need to spend some time there myself now. I may be back with more about it later.


Sandra said...

I think the reason she assumes women would want it is because they would! Sure, some men would like it, but there are a lot more women than men who stay at home with kids and eventually see their careers shrivel and die.

Of course there are stay home dads, too, but how many of them are still home when the kids turn 12, 14, or 16? The number of women who actually lose their careers by dropping out "temporarily" is undoubtedly much, much higher than men.

Libby said...

Yes, I know, but I still think if there were social support for men staying home (part time, especially) they might want to, as well. How many men do you know who hate their jobs? Or who wish they had more time to spend at home, but can't because their jobs demand it? That's what I meant to say. "Stay at home dads" does indeed sound temporary, and most often is, but it might be more permanent if there were ways that we as a society supported that choice.

zambuling said...

I agree that nothing has radicalized me more than becoming a mama. My husband and I both struggle against expectations for work and career, and our own desires for how to raise our children. I wanted to be the primary caretaker when they are young, but at the same time, not being able to pursue my intellectual interests during the light of day was driving me batty.

Three months ago I started a full-time academic position--one that still enables me to be flexibile. I can be with my kids two days a week (but I need to work most evenings and each day during the weekend to get my work done). And my husband relocated with me and told his company he wanted to work 3 days. They were supportive (but with the understanding that this was temporary). It's been wonderful for his relationship with the kids, our relationship (I am still so giddy at having a real partner at home and with the kids).

I think it's the pressure that is put on people at work (both men and women) to NOT choose "flexibility" (parental leave options, flextime) over fear of harming their careers, that is responsible for the dearth of these options in our society. My husband just happens to be a valued employee and I happened to find an academic job where people don't blink when I bring my kid in to the office for meetings.