Tuesday, September 20, 2005

New Day, Same Old @%#&

Today's New York Times ran an article that it has run before.

This one had a different title, and a different author. But the same message.

Many Women at Elite Colleges Set Career Path to Motherhood by Louise Story.

What I would like to see is a follow-up article of one of these women actually IN the position they are describing, 10 or 15 years from now, bun in the oven, having worked their arses off for 60 or 70 hours per week at some top law firm for the past 10 years, having just made or about to make partner, and enjoying the fruits of their hard work.

I am not a Harvard grad, but I am doing some serious cost-benefit analysis right now in deciding if, when, and how much FMLA leave to take next year and even though my university (and department) is extremely flexible, it is, no less, a serious cost-benefit analysis.

A counter-article would have to consider:
1. lost earnings and benefits (especially if the women are not married to a wealthy spouse or, for some political limitation, cannot marry their spouse and therefore enjoy the benefits that accrue from his/her labor force participation),

2. lost experience toward promotion and higher future wages (there are many academic articles out there that show that both men and women lose a significant amount of salary/wages over time in their career even if they take a short leave)

3. both of 1 and 2 should be measured with compounded interest

4. the possibility that (gasp) they won't PREFER to be a stay at home parent with their little darlings,

5. the possibility that (gasp) they may actually get some personal fulfillment from work

6. the REALITY that law firms don't employ people part-time (or that few firms offer this sort of flexibility)

7. and, finally, again, why it is that men just don't seem to even CONSIDER such a cost-benefit analysis.

The Harvard/Yale part of the story (and there is ALWAYS a Harvard/Yale part of the story) just highlights the drama in the choice these women are planning on making while ignoring the privileges accorded to the individuals.

For a longer discussion, check out the post at Crooked Timber.

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