Share this Job
I read an article about why women can’t have it all. It makes sense and is something I’ve been saying for years: If you are going to have children, they absolutely have to be the priority in your life. The article was speaking specifically to highly educated, seriously ambitious women. I’m talking to you guys, too, but more so to the rest of us.
It’s not that you can’t have a cool job, maybe even a demanding job if you are the kind of person with uber-energy. Most of us, even those of us with good energy, find a full-time job, parenting, taking care of ourselves (exercise, new shoes, social-emotional connections, learning opportunities) and a little entertainment to be the full extent of what can be done. And, then, we try to do more because “everyone else is”. Except everyone else isn’t. And, sometimes, those that are doing more are paying a price with their family that doesn’t seem fair to me.
Women try to plan their child-bearing and rearing to maximize promotions and advancement even though they will take some time away from business. Having kids early has problems – you don’t get started in business with your peer group, although your children will be out of the house by the time you are in your mid-forties and there is lots of time for business advancement then – if you can get in. Having kids later has the problems of biology not always cooperating, time out just as things are taking off, or your child’s adolescence right when you are most busy with work.
I have a suggestion. Why not make the work week 56 hours. That’s 7 days a week, 8-hour days. Law offices, advertising firms, large corporations where the top people are all working 56 hours a week anyway would get recognized and paid accordingly – which often happens now. The hours could be distributed however the employee preferred but like a truck engine with a governor on it that prevents speeding, the employee would be required to stop and get some balance at 56 hours. This is not radical.
Where I get a little, teeny bit radical is the suggestion that most of these jobs would be shared. Each person in the job share would be expected to put in 27.5 hours per week. Hours could be organized in whatever way was best for the job-share partners, the company, and the client. Salaries would be paid at full-time levels for the 27.5 hours. These folks would have a little bit of leeway to put in overtime – if their job-share partner agreed to release some of their hours to them. The highest number of hours that could be worked for that job would be 56 hours in aggregate.
Tadaa! Women would be able to have it all because they could fulfill their parenting impulses, desires, responsibilities, commitments, and not be penalized, or thwarted, in their ambition. The lid on 56 hours of work for everyone, and recognition for the job done by job-share partnerships, would level the playing field. Women would find it much easier to serve on boards, be Heads of State, hold responsible government positions, or be chief executive officer in a large corporation, because the work would get done. Because the school play that is happening on Thursday afternoon at the elementary school can be part of the week with work eddying around the “interruption”.
I think, once upon a time, that society thought that people should be home for dinner with their children and companies, firms, all manner of productive organizations supported this. For the middle class. For those wanting to be in the wealthy or elite class entry needs to come with ways to still show up for dinner.
Maybe a full-time job-share is the way to go.