Face Making

Artist Gwenn Seemel’s bilingual blog about art, portraiture, free culture, and feminism.

Baby-raising and the feminine condition

2011 . 09 . 21 - Comments / Commentaires (4)

It’s 2011. That’s 163 years after the Declaration of Sentiments was signed at Seneca Falls in New York, officially igniting the women’s rights movement in the United States. And still, women are not as successful as men in business. What gives?

Call me a cynic, but I chalk it up mostly to biology—specifically childbirth—as well as to the culturally created notion that women should be the primary care-givers to children.

These biological and cultural factors are persistent, impacting even the women who choose to circumvent them. An army of career-focused women can’t undo the harm of those who choose to become full-time mothers.

The problem is two-fold:

  1. Women who choose to quit their jobs in order to focus on family end up cementing the stereotype that women aren’t dependable in business and therefore aren’t worth hiring in the first place.

  2. Because women are taking time off for family during the prime career-building years of 30-45, they are not advancing in the same way as men are. The end result is that there are fewer women in positions of power in the business world than there are men. And when it comes to providing opportunities, those fewer women can only do so much to bring younger women up.

Clearly women should stop making and raising babies. It’s the only way any women are going to have a chance at succeeding in business.

Or maybe there’s something else we could do as a society…

dandelion fluff

Maybe instead of ending humanity, we could start valuing those who devote their time to raising the next generation—men and women both. What if the people who run businesses could find a way to give credit to those who make the future possible? What if the idea that women in general need a leg up career-wise because a lot of women forgo careers wasn’t controversial?

Hey, a girl can dream, right?

- The home studio / L’atelier à la maison
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- On being an artist and a feminist

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(4) Comments / Commentaires: Baby-raising and the feminine condition

-- Amanda -- 2011 . 10 . 10 --

Interestingly, I read somewhere that some businesses have started to see the value in hiring mothers because they have a lot of qualities and skills to bring to the workplace. Raising a family requires things like time management, planning, budgeting, diplomacy, patience and many other things that are helpful in business in a way that no other life experience brings. Clearly not many businesses have clued on to this yet, but the very fact that some are beginning to has to be a good sign, right?

Personally I have always been a motherly person (to the extent that it took me a long time to realise I was highly ambitious too and that the two could mix!) Now I have a baby I am happy to think of staying home with him full-time during his first year and only working part-time until he goes to school. But in order to keep not only my options open but to also give me that sense of achievement from doing something outside the home that pushes me, I plan on doing some voluntary work whilst raising him in these early years. Something that I might not have done as a job as I might not have the necessary skills as of yet, but something that will equally challenge me and give me those skills that I can transfer in the future to whatever job or career I go into.

It’s hard enough getting it into our own minds that career and family can mix, or at least I find it difficult, so I guess that’s why it’s so hard for society at large to see this. But slowly and surely I hope we get there.

Interesting post, as always, Gwenn x

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-- Gwenn -- 2011 . 10 . 12 --

Thanks Amanda!  I’m glad to hear that some businesses are catching on with regards to mothers and their special skills.  I wonder if the notion that women in general need a bit of a push in hiring because of the factors I mentioned above will ever be common sense…?

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-- Cathy Hasty -- 2016 . 07 . 26 --

Because I was the primary wage earner, I went back to work at 3 months with both my daughters but I was so lucky to have a position within a community with so much flexibility and support.  I offer the same support, particularly to the parents of young children who report to me (-kids are young till they are about 26!)  I wish society would see the investment in caregiving to young children as part of the fabric of a civil society.  There is loads of research that demonstrates that the early investment in children pays off HUGE dividends.

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-- Gwenn -- 2016 . 07 . 28 --

I’m glad you offer that support to parents, Cathy! So important. I’m convinced that this is the thing that could change the world for the better. The one change that would set off so many other positive changes. Empathy, understanding, living the values we preach.

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