I’m always delighted to see studies showing that men do an ever-increasing share of housework and childcare. My husband and I do equal amounts of both in our household nowadays, and it’s nice to know that we’re not an anomaly in this way. (We perhaps are anomalies in our lack of multitasking — in particular, I am completely incapable of it — and so our time spent multitasking is far, far below the average.) However, two recent events at work have reminded me that we still have a long way to go when it comes to the work-family balance:
- At work, there is a long-running speaker series called Women We Admire, “in which women [...] share their insights about career, workplace challenges and work-life balance.” These are all accomplished women who are at the tops of their fields. Yet at the recent talk I went to, the audience was at most 10% male.
- I am also starting an affinity group at work for other parents — there aren’t a ton of people at work with young kids (let alone in the Bay Area), and I thought there could be a lot of interesting, focused meetings. What schedule flexibility do we have? How are the labor and delivery departments at the various hospitals in our different health care plans? What on earth do you do with school-aged kids in the summertime? The sign-ups are finally starting to roll in, and so far only two men have signed up. TWO.
To be fair, the majority of my co-workers are women. But men are underrepresented in both cases above. Apparently, when a woman works outside of the home, there’s a work-life balance she has to achieve. When a man works out of the home, it’s business as usual!
How can this be changed? Is the framing language the problem? Or is it another symptom of the bigger problem — that women’s issues are considered to be “special issues”, and not issues faced by, you know, HALF THE DAMN POPULATION?