21.12.11

THE WALLS BEGIN TO TREMBLE.

Seven years ago in Cold Spring Shops:
Presumably the set of social institutions that involved Dad working, Mom minding the kids, and parents staying together for the sake of the children, which takes advantage of the Say Aggregation Principle to ensure that one wage earner could support a family, and which makes unilateral dissolution of marriage less attractive, are not the set of social institutions envisioned in these discussions. There are, however, other institutional changes to consider, including reduced reliance on the treadmill career path, which might in fact be productivity enhancing as people might have less reason to look for ways out of productive but extremely time-consuming jobs.
An anecdote in USA Today is not validation.  But it's not reason to back down, either.
Tiffany Willis of Dallas has spent years climbing the corporate career ladder, working up to 70-hour weeks and pulling in about $60,000 as a middle manager.

She describes herself "as that mom sitting at the top of the bleachers at my kid's Saturday-morning football game on my cellphone for a conference call with my laptop."

She walked away from the pressures, paycheck and prestige of jobs she called "meaningful and important" earlier this year and refuses to return, no matter how many offers come her way.

"I will never go back to the corporate world," she says. "I want to own my life."

A new nationwide survey shows that Willis, 44, may not be alone. A women and workplace survey from More magazine shows that 43% of the women surveyed say they are less ambitious now than they were a decade ago. And only a quarter of the 500 women ages 35 to 60 say they're working toward their next promotion.

And forget about the corner office: 3 out of 4 women in the survey — 73% — say they would not apply for their boss' job. Almost 2 of 5 — 38% — report they don't want to put up with the stress, office politics and responsibility that often go hand in hand with such positions.
What intrigues is the reaction of the women of the fevered brow.
More Editor-in-Chief Lesley Jane Seymour says she's hoping that the survey, conducted in June, is more a reflection of the stress and negativity of difficult economic times and not a permanent trend.

"We're bemoaning the lack of women in top Fortune 500 companies or women in political office," Seymour says. "We're sliding backwards, and here's your answer. It's because we have thrown ice water all over ambition."
We're all underemployed compared to our ancestors who had cows to milk and fields to plow, with no mechanical assistance. We're rich enough that scaling back ambition doesn't have to mean starving.
Willis says she's not surprised about results showing more women backing away from top corporate positions.

"It's not worth it. I had what I called my 'heart-attack jobs,' and I strongly believe they took years off my life," Willis says. "I have been referred by people for other (management) positions, and I tell them no amount of money is worth it. I don't care if they offered me a million dollars."

Willis is now a freelance writer who also teaches a course at a local community college and says her plan is to remain a contract worker.

As a single mom, she says she and her children "have downgraded our lives and our expenses" and "we're going to live differently."

The flexibility of being able to meet personal and professional demands on her own terms makes any lifestyle changes worth it, she says.
She gets specific.
Willis predicts the trend of women opting out of high-pressure jobs will continue.

"We women enjoyed it for a time, but now we've had time to see the toll that it takes on us and our families," Willis says.

Still, the trend isn't just about women trying to manage children and professional demands. The survey found that only 15% say that household or child care responsibilities have held them back in their careers. Interestingly, while 62% of women with children say they would take more free time over more money, a larger number of single women — 68% — say they would.

Seymour says she's concerned about women who have no intention of getting a corner office or seat at the corporate boardroom table.

Women have been shown to be positive forces not only for promoting world change, but also for driving bottom-line results. As the economy struggles "if we back off from promoting women, we're just shooting ourselves in the foot," Seymour says.

Willis disagrees that women are backsliding and should make the choice to fight for top-tier jobs. She says women are simply making different choices and believes that young, unmarried and childless women will continue to seize those opportunities. As for herself, she doesn't rule out re-entering the corporate management when her children are grown.

"Women will continue to be powerful, but it's not going to be with a two-hour commute and a corner office," Willis says. "It's all about letting women make their own decisions about what's right for them and their families."
Meredith Lepore of The Grindstone agrees that freedom to choose matters.
It is wonderful if you would rather work less to spend time with your family but if you want to get that corner office, and there are most definitely women who do, it is okay to work as hard as possible and devote a lot of your time to do that. It is your time and you get to decide what to do with it.
The problem is, very few people are able to do both, and the positional arms races and the destruction of private lives will go on.  Robert Franklin of Fathers and Families weighs in.
Time and again, survey after survey finds that women in a position to do so tend to opt out of paid work.  Usually that’s to care for children, but the Moresurvey shows that it’s just as likely to get out of corporate life.  Various studies have shown the same thing about female attorneys, MBA graduates and those in careers in science, technology, engineering and math fields.

My guess is that women further down on the educational and economic totem poll are just as likely to opt out when it’s feasible for them to do so.

What this suggests is that women are proving to be fairly resistant to much of the social engineering that’s been going on for the past 40 years or so.  Despite an astonishing array of cultural messages saying that motherhood is a snare and a delusion, and that a woman’s true place is in the corporate boardroom, women are saying ‘no.’  They’ve dipped their toe in the water and found it too cold for their liking.
That's a possibility. I'm not going to get into the custody battle and culture wars implications of that post today. I wonder, though, whether some of the discouraged workers of the ongoing Great Reset are using the straitened economic circumstances as occasion to say no to the most demanding employers.  What's the point of doing the work of four people for twelve hours a day on half your previous salary if "downgrading your expenses" doesn't rule out Internet access or a functioning car or clothing for the kids?

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