Thursday, August 4, 2016

Women in the Workplace - Feminism, 40 Years Later

She's in the middle of a bidding war for her services.  Two departments in the same institution want to hire her.  At the end of each interview, she was asked to hold off on accepting the other offer until  a competing bid could be presented.  It's a lovely place to be.

We were kvelling about how wonderful she is, about the fabulous future in either situation, about how proud of her I am.  And then I wondered how she would manage to juggle the two.  What would she say to an offer that would give the others time to respond?
Mom, I'll use my go-to response, the party line: "I have to talk to my husband before I make a final decision."
I was stunned.  That was not a response that had occurred to me.
Mom, we're a team, a partnership, and we're in this together.  I'd never make a big decision like this without talking to SIR, and he would do the same with me.
How times have changed.

Forty years ago, I, too, needed a job so that my family could move forward.  I interviewed and accepted the offer and then called my parents and TBG.... in that order.  True, this was before cell phones and I knew that G'ma and Daddooooo were at home and that TBG was in class, but none of that was factored into my decision to accept a paying job on my own, without consulting anyone else.

I think that if I'd said I have to talk to my husband the offer would have been rescinded on the spot. Forty years ago, as women were bullying our way into the professional workplace, independence and self-reliance were more important than family values.  I wanted to appear confident and self-sufficient and capable of holding my own in a male dominated environment.  I certainly did not want to be perceived as needing my husband's approval before I could act.  I certainly didn't want the fact that I was a newlywed to impinge on the hiring decision.

Little Cuter and SIR look at it from a different perspective.  They and FlapJilly are a cohesive team, working together to better their lives.  There are no uni-lateral decisions.  In our why-is-planning-this-wedding-so-hard year, I suggested that she kidnap SIR and elope.
MOM!  That is NOT the way to start a relationship!  There are two of us involved here!
They are equal partners, and they lose nothing by consulting before deciding.  It is an accepted and agreed upon fact that they are equivalent, that they share power and authority.  Consulting a spouse is polite.  It's an integral part of the little community they are creating.  There is no loss of status or respect implied when she says that she must share the decision with her husband.

How times have changed.  No one is asking if her husband will allow her to work (yes, I was asked that).  She asked about work/family balance in every interview (I pretty much had to guarantee that I didn't want to have babies right away).  How times have changed.

As TBG says, our actions cleansed the pipes in the hiring system.
As always, when I write about someone, I check the facts/attitude for accuracy.  Little Cuter suggested that this is just the tip of the iceberg, that she's not sure I covered everything or that I got it all right, but she was too tired to think about it tonight.

So, this is Part One.


  1. Interesting. I'll have to think of this one. I would have never felt I wanted to run it by the husband, but then again, I'm older and divorced so...

    1. I wonder where the age cut off is? Somewhere, there's a generation in the middle, right?


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