One of the hardest things about being a working mom is that workplaces are often still in the “Mad Men” paradigm, despite the shift in social composition over the past 60 years. As two authors, Barbara and Shannon Kelly, point out, the work world and corporate culture still have not adjusted to the fact that many employees don’t have someone at home to cook and clean. When we get off work, we still have to do that, which means we can’t work 18 hour days, day after day, even if we want to. We have to eat, and wash our clothes. And if we’re parents, especially moms, we have to take care of our children.
But Bloomberg doesn’t want to hear about it, and the recent August 19th ruling allows Bloomberg to keep its head in the sand. The judge, (a woman!) acknowledges discrimination occurred, but determined that it’s perfectly legal to fire (or not hire) someone who can’t be there 24/7, specifically mothers and even women who were deemed likely to get pregnant.
Beyond being completely sexist, the judge in this case also upheld a slave mentality that many corporations insist their employees adopt. Nothing can come before the corporation, it resembles the State in 1984: its interests reign supreme. Who raises the children of the corporation? And who raises her children while she raises someone else’s? Be reasonable, people. Someone’s gotta do it. We’re making child-rearing such a low priority in our society, it’s almost forgotten. Those who do it are poorly paid, and garner little respect.
My daughter, who is seven, informs me that the seahorse has it all figured out. With seahorses, the male carries the children in a pouch, like a kangaroo. (“Can you believe that?” she asked me.) Then, I’m told, once the children are born, they just swim away and may never see their parents again. Then the parents can go back to work.
But what about the quality of the work? Maybe employees with richer lives, with children and clean clothes and the time to exercise, could contribute more with less. There’s something Bloomberg should consider: it’s not always about the number of hours logged in at your desk. Few employees are busy the full eight hours anyway. (I know I’ve never been at a job in which I didn’t fill many hours with soul-sucking boredom.) Maybe moms, used to juggling a lot of disparate issues, are sharper, on their games, and hence more capable, competent. Your loss, then, Bloomberg, but sadly our sisters are still out of work.