By Rachael Ellison
I was called by Momasphere and Park Slope Parents Career Network (both fabulous Brooklyn based groups), to participate in a panel discussion of Sharon Lerner’s latest book, “The War on Moms: On Life in a Family Unfriendly Nation.” It was a great event and sparked some important discussions on work-life balance and the challenges facing moms today.
In addition to the author, I was joined by two amazing and accomplished pioneers in the work-life field, Anne Weisberg and Sherry Leiwant. Both were truly fascinating resources and brought great insight to the issues facing moms today. The book told some heartbreaking stories of mothers in America today struggling to maintain careers and households in the absence of adequate policies to support them. Here are a few of of my takeaways from the discussion:
- We’re working with a flawed system, but we have choices. One of Lerner’s objectives was to call attention to the inadequacies of the American system (e.g. limited and unpaid maternity leave, lack of childcare subsidies, lack of flexibility in the workplace, disproportionate division of housework responsibilities falling on woman) particularly in comparison with other countries. I agree with her assertion that it’s more than difficult for moms in this country due to a intricate web of societal factors and systematic failures. That being said, I resent the implication that we are victims of some kind of attack and are left with such limited options. I think we, as individuals, have the opportunity and ability to empower ourselves in the process of developing our careers and having families. I do believe the system needs to change, but in the meantime we each need to make informed decisions and develop creative, individualized solutions for ourselves.
- A new kind of corporate career path is on the horizon. I have not yet had a chance to read her book, Mass Career Customization, but I can’t wait to learn more about Weisberg’s work. She and her colleagues at Deloitte are piloting a program that will give every employee a framework for dialing up and down their hours, travel demands, and responsibilities as their personal needs change over the course of their careers. Instead of a corporate ladder, they are calling it a corporate lattice. A review of the book is coming soon!
- Meanwhile, it’s WAY too quiet out there. One of the audience members, a former architect of 15 years turned freelance photographer, asked if there were any programs designed to teach adolescents about READ COMPLETE ARTICLE HERE.