Office Rants


Just read an interesting post on fellow colleague Alexandra Levit’s blog.  She discusses that getting up the corporate ladder may not be as appealing as it used to be.  While I agree that once you’ve had a child your priorities shift, I do not think that you shelve your potential upward mobility all together. Yes, what is important to me now is flexibility with my schedule, ensuring I get home from work in time to put my son to bed, etc.  But I’m also interested in the next step that I want to achieve at work. I’m not just coming to work to spin my wheels and keep busy. I want to continue to learn, have new experiences, and hopefully, one day, be promoted.
It’s just that finding the balance and an employer that can help you do this that is the toughest part.

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Some background- my friend (F) and her husband just bought a new home and are trying to have a baby.  She’s recently transferred positions and is really happy in her job.  Things seem good.  However, she dotted line reports to a very senior-level woman (SLW) in her organization who’s been in the working world for quite some time and has a stellar reputation in her field (i.e. she puts the fear of god in you.)  So, casually, she gives my friend some advice about trying to work and be a mom. (The conversation below is based on a true story.)

F: Yeah, my husband and I are hoping to have kids soon.
SLW: Hmm, that is interesting. (Pauses.) Why would you do that? You are on the “up” escalator here.
F: I don’t quite understand.
SLW: You are on the UP escalator- see? If you have kids now, and get off the escalator for a little while, well, you’ll never get back on.
F: Well, how did you do it, SLW?
SLW: Ha! I “outsourced.”
F: (Thinks- What the ?!?)
SLW: Yes, well, I hired a nanny full-time; my husband didn’t work, and well, when my kids were old enough, I just sent them to boarding school. And see, now I made it to the top of the escalator! I’m a success!
F: What did I get my self into?

My friends and I think perhaps this conversation is a result of a generational gap between SLW and F. SLW is “old school” in the true sense. Or is she? Is this how women think still? How can we make this life work if our own kind don’t believe it can?

Perhaps we need to educate the “old school” in the ways of the new- case studies, examples of how women are able to work and still have a normal family outside of work. It can be done.

My husband reminded me yesterday of one of my biggest complaints when pregnant- riding public transportation. Ever tried it?? Never have I encountered ruder people then when I was very pregnant riding the subway (“El”) to my office in downtown Chicago. Of the hundreds of times I took the El, I can count on ONE hand the amount of times someone offered me their seat – or even a pole to lean on.  And guess who the ones were who actually did offer me a seat – you guessed it – women.

Men: what’s the deal? We know you don’t know what it’s like to be preggo, but if you see a woman waddling her way onto the train, can’t you stand up!? Please!

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