I could not let Sarah Garrecht's column ("Gender is merely one aspect of a person," April 12) discussing gender as a defining characteristic of a person go uncommented. While I agree with most of her statements on gender discrimination, I feel that I must comment on her statement regarding motherhood and career. I agree that it is possible to be successful both as a mother and as a professional. However, Ms. Garrecht's comment that "busy mothers can, and do, work busy schedules and handle both jobs with grace and competence" is the type of misleading opinion that has been hyped by feminists for decades that results only in injury to the women who try to handle these two full-time jobs.
The fact is that it is near impossible to juggle these two jobs. This is not an opinion that is spoken aloud by men or women today. Somehow, we have allowed the question of whether or not it is possible to juggle motherhood and a career to become equated with whether or not women have the ability to be successful both as a mother and as a professional. There is no doubt in my mind that all women have the ability to be successful at both of these jobs. (There is also no doubt in my mind that men have the ability to be excellent fathers and professionals). However, it is near impossible to be successful at both of these jobs at the same time in today's workplace. The facts are that to be successful, you must work 40 hours or more a week, be available to travel, minimize sick days to care for your sick child, miss your child's performance in school plays and events. The definition of being a successful parent has to include plenty of time to share in your child's life, be active in his/her schooling and be physically present to provide a model for him/her to emulate. So motherhood and a career are always at odds with one another.
I believe that it is only once we, as women, stop accepting the unproven statement that we can "handle both jobs with grace and competence" that we will be able to change the way in which both men and women succeed in the workplace. We need to recognize that our children require as much time as our jobs and focus on making flex-time, half-time, home-based work and other alternatives to the norm in the workplace. We need to support fellow workers who choose this route. As future managers and supervisors we need to be ready to promote employees, based on their abilities, not on how much time they spend in the office, or how dedicated they appear to be to the economy.
In an utopian world it might be possible to juggle motherhood and a career. However, the employers of this utopian world would value family priorities as high as corporate profit. This is not the world we live in today. We need to recognize the impossibility of this juggle and from there work towards changing from our society so that we can have it all.
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