Monday, October 10, 2005

Where are all the women?

How many blog posts can I title this way? I've been thinking over the last day, since my last post, about the fact that most of the women I met from my class were staying at home with children. I wasn't so much disappointed with them as with the world we live in which gives them few options. And the more I think about it, the angrier I get. Here was a collection of smart women, all of whom could contribute something valuable to the work force, but here they were, at home "by choice." I'm sure that many of them will return to the work force later, when their kids are older (most are under 5 now). But think of all that they and we have missed out on.

Given my own tension between work and home, I know that I easily could have been one of them. I am happy with my choice though I do often wish for shorter hours with the same rewards, the same opportunities for professional development. It seems to me unfair that the choices we are given are so limited and limiting. Perhaps more of us could request better work arrangements or seek out part-time opportunities, but that's a risky proposition for most people.

I fell asleep last night watching Desperate Housewives (which I haven't seen since its premiere) and the blond woman, what's her name, is now working in an environment hostile to parents. The situation is exaggerated for comedic effect, with the boss voicing what many bosses only insinuate. And that's the situation many of us are in. The environment isn't unfriendly per se, or at least not blatantly so, but when you have to leave early to pick up a child or have to use a vacation day to stay home on one of the many in-service school days, you feel the pressure and the guilt.

And unfortunately, as my career develops, I find myself interested in opportunities that require even more of my time and energy. How far to take this? How do you develop a career and children too? It's a dilemma many women choose not to face, by opting out of the career part. In some ways I envy them, but in many more, I feel sorry for them, and sorry what we've missed.