Balance careers & motherhood? You’re missing something.
As you may have noticed – or perhaps didn’t notice at all - I spent pretty much all of last week offline. I was in another state, as part of a science-y retreat/orientation thing-y (details are not important, mmkay?) and as one of the themes was increasing/supporting women in science, I was among a bunch of very very interesting and ridiculously smart women. While we spent most of our time talking about, you guessed it, Science and pretty much generally being Great Big Nerds, there was this one theme that came out. One that isn’t, especially given some recent articles, new.
How do women balance careers and motherhood?
Is it possible? Can it be done? Any advice? What are the hidden consequences? What are the not-so-hidden consequences?
These are legit questions, and Really Important Things for up-n-coming women to be talking about. Even me – sure I don’t want kids, but I think it’s important to understand what other women are dealing with, and to think about other perspectives. Or maybe just find something interesting to blog about. Etc.
So, yeah, these conversations were totes fine with me. Way to go, thinking ahead n’ all. But one thing bothered me, time and again.
What about the partners of these women?
None of these women discussed their future choices as if they were part of a partnership – but all discussed the importance of being married, or were already married (and all were straight-identified, so to a man). It was consistently framed as decisions a woman had to make on her own. As in, by herself. As in, alone. As in, not as part of a discussion with her partner (despite the fact, last I checked, he had something to do with those kids in the first place…).
All involved, but did not outwardly discuss, the underlying assumption that her husband would not have to make such choices, or even wondered about children versus career. He was not a part of this conversation, these decisions. His path was already clear. There was no “we” in the dialogue.
I’m not ok with this.
If the next generation of women are still thinking that they are the only ones making decisions between careers and parenting (and there are some goddamn fucking decisions that must be made, especially in the society we live in – but that’s a whole ‘nother post), if they are unable to see their male partners as part of this - how are we ever able to truly find equality? Both in terms of what women are able to do, and what men are included in? How are we able to move beyond women as mothers, and men as bread-winners?
Men must be part of this conversation. If we are to ever reach equality, if we are to ever leave the gender binary behind, we must be able to talk about parenting as if it is the job of parents not just of mothers. We must be able to start talking about choices that must be made by all partners involved in child-rearing, not just the one identified as “mom“.
And, ya know, I bet if we checked, it just might be something men are actually interested in too – if we only asked.