By lawblogger • March 23, 2008•Other Career Issues
I was shocked to read Monique Doyle Spencer's article in the Boston Globe, Working women, where did we go so wrong? The title should give you an uh-oh feeling, but I was completely unprepared for Doyle's topic sentence: "I think we women ruined the workplace." In a nutshell, her argument is that wolmen responded to their opportunities to finally work in high-power jobs by working harder than their male counterparts without demanding salary increases when, according to Doyle, they should have worked the same hours as men and demanded equal pay. Consequently, her argument goes, women blew an opportunity to create a more livable profession for everyone by not demanding said livable professio in those early days and instead playing into a workaholic norm.
Am I alone in wondering how pioneer women, who were battling stereotypes and prejudices about whether they deserved their jobs or could hack it in a man's world, could have stayed in the game if they'd refused to put in extra hours and instead demanded higher wages, flexible work hours, and 45-hour weeks right from the get-go? Doyle states that "we were supposed to demand equal pay, not whimper through our year-end review. We were supposed to 'smarten' the workday. If your job takes you more than 45 hours a week to complete, you are going to too many meetings that you shouldn't be at." Apparently Doyle is unfamiliar with law firms, where you actually bill hours and may not be able to meet your firm's required billing time if you only work 45 hours a week. Also, why is a woman's responsibility to "'smarten' the workday"? What does that even mean?
Doyle goes on to task women with the job of creating part-time opportunities for both men and women. How? Doyle takes a hard line: "We were supposed to figure out how to do that." Great, if only those pioneer women had Doyle around for strategic consultation back in the good old days. The article goes on with more ranting about what women should have done (no suggestions as to HOW) and then ends with the priceless gem: "I think we should celebrate National Women's Month with a big apology to our mothers and daughters for blowing the biggest opportunity in history to create real change."
Well, this woman feels no need to apologize. I feel strongly that Doyle is full of it in suggesting that women in those early days had any power to change the system, and I think she is naive to suggest that these issues are solely women's issues or soleley women's responsibilty to change. Men have just as big a stake in raising productive members of society and spending valuable time with their children. Men have an equal interest in efficient work environments and work/life balance. It's sexist to assume that women are alone in needing or valuing these things, and it is ignorant to think that anything can change without men and women working together.