Sunday, May 20, 2007

Wanting Both, Revisited

I wrote the post "Why Can't I Want Both" last week and a new post on Ms. JD echoes a lot of the same sentiments. This one especially focuses on the "And why is it assumed that kids will so fundamentally change me and my goals, but not JP?" point I made. Here's the bulk of the Ms. JD post:

I graduated from law school on Friday. Woohoo! Only not so much, because I spent half of commencement stewing over the less-than-inspiring words of our commencement speaker. About halfway through her speech, our speaker, an extremely accomplished public interest lawyer and mother of two, changed course and addressed her comments to the women in the graduating class. "You can have it all, as long as you are willing to compromise," she encouraged us. I know I have to compromise. But I think I'm going to have to compromise, because I'm an adult, not because I'm a woman. And as far as having it all is concerned, I'd probably have to compromise a lot less if all the men in the audience were being asked to listen up too. Maybe if people were telling them that they would have to compromise to get what they want, they would be more prepared to do so?

I thought the contributor made excellent points. Of course there will be compromise, but it's not because I'm female, it's because I'm (going to be) a parent. JP will also be compromising because he's going to be a parent too. I'm so thankful that I have a husband who was raised by two working parents and who fully expects to do (and does!) his share of all the housekeeping and child rearing duties.

This is one of my complaints with the women's initiates hosted by law schools and firms. I think women's programs are important and I've really enjoyed them- coming from a family without career women, it's been great to hear the stories from women lawyers and have the opportunity to network. However, always advertising programs about the work/life balance in terms of women's issues holds us back from achieving that much sought after balance. Programs and initiatives aimed at helping women balance children and work need to be "parenting initiatives" and firms need to offer them as such. It doesn't help me be a lawyer and mother if the firm is flexible with my schedule, they also need to be flexible with my husband's. If I'm allowed to leave early to finish work at home, but it's frowned on when he does, I will always be the one starting dinner. I will always be the one who can stop to run errands on the way home. I will be the one doing the balancing. Until my husband is seen as the other, equal half of the parenting team, I won't just be comprising, I'll be miserable (and so will he!). I think firms would have greater success at retaining women if they helped all parents balance their work and home life.


  1. *standing ovation*

    I would have complained to the administration about the speaker - just to let them know how the school can support PARENTS going forward and not just women. I'm really disturbed she did that - it's one of those small but really meaningful things that build this culture of "women struggle to have it all, men do whatever they were doing."

  2. I agree with the point of the post. But there are some issues that are unique to women. For instance, for those women who do choose to breastfeed, accomodations have to be made. I known of at least one firm here in town (medium sized city in the midwest) where there's a room set up for women who breastfeed (they use it to pump their milk during the day).

  3. THANK YOU!!!! So competely true (we were just talking about this in one of my sociology classes on "Inequality"!)

    **Hope everything is going well! I'm sure work/errands/things are getting done ;)

  4. I agree that speaker should have addressed the compromise shizz to men and women. I feel compromise falls less on the party unfortunately (man or woman) who has the longer hours and makes more money. In some ways, sure that makes more sense -- the one who has a less demanding job has more free time to pick up on more household duties etc. But here's the problem, one party wanted a less demanding job b/c he or she values their free time and misc. activities outside of work.

    I dunno. Balance and compromise is hard. I'll see how it goes when the kids come.