The other day, I read an article in a financial section of an Israeli newspaper directed at religious readers. The article talked about the "glass ceiling", and some religious businesswomen told about their experiences and perceptions. I take a real issue with a few things that they said, such as (translation from Hebrew – mine):
"The work force must understand the unique potential of women, and create a cultural change within it that will allow women to advance and fulfill their personal potential."
The truth is that no one out there owes you anything; no one has to "understand your uniqueness". As an employee in a competitive world, it's up to you to prove your value.
"The feminine sand clock is running out and cannot be turned back; a woman who misses out on the years when her children are young can never bring them back again." (So far, I completely agree) "The work force, though, must make a change of attitude, which must allow the turning back of that sand clock, and let women start anew at the age of 40. Then, when most of this woman's children are not so little anymore, and she can work the same hours as men, the job market must open the way for her, in contrast to the situation today."
So, basically, the attitude is as following: I will spend my 20 or so years of utmost vitality dedicating all or most of my time to my children (so far, so good), and then, at the age of 40 and beyond, the work force must be waiting to embrace me with open arms, despite the fact that there are many younger, ambitious candidates with fresher educations. Does that make sense? Not in a competitive world.
Sorry, ladies, but it doesn't work like that. As an employer, I probably wouldn't favor a 40-something woman with little to no work experience. Sure, if I interviewed her and thought she can be a valuable employee, I would hire her (though if I opted for someone with little experience, I probably would at least want them to be young and eager). But I certainly wouldn't see myself obligated to cater to her wishes and life goals, or to adjust myself to her biological clock. And if someone passed a legislation trying to force me to do just that, I would see it as extremely unfair and hindering the productivity of my business. Equality means everybody has a chance to prove themselves; what you ladies are talking about is mollycoddling.
Today, women have equality of opportunities. No one will deny them access to higher education, even in traditionally masculine fields; no one is supposed to refuse to interview them for jobs because they are women. But beyond that, ladies, you have to prove yourselves. And if you realize you are missing out on things along the way (like the precious years at home with your babies), then it's you who must reevaluate your priorities, not the rest of the world.
It goes without saying that I think it's extremely unfair a woman in her forties must feel pressured to go out and compete with fresh college graduates. I also believe the notion that a woman isn't needed at home after her children are out of babyhood is a completely false one. If home is the right place for mothers, it's beyond a doubt the best place for grandmothers as well. The logical next step of life for a mother of grown children wouldn't be to dive into full-time work in a competitive corporate world, but rather, to pursue creative outlets in her home, things she was unable to dedicate her time to when her children were younger. She will also have more time to open up the doors of her home to others, spend time with her older children, and serve in her community. If her husband is a few years older than her, he might be approaching retirement, or at least able to slow down at work, which will enable them to spend time and do various projects together as a couple. A mother of older children certainly isn't idle – she is simply beginning a less frenzied but equally exciting period in her life.
Of course, if you happen to be homeschooling and had your last baby at 40 years old, you will be kept very busy until retirement age anyway!
An even more "brilliant" feminist notion mentioned was that men should be mandatorily sent home early, so that they won't be able to pull longer hours, therefore favorably competing with mothers who hurry home to their children. Ladies, you are certainly determined to make logic and reason bend to your plans, rather than the other way around, aren't you? "I don't want to put in long hours, but I don't want anyone competing with me either; therefore, those who are able to do more work shouldn't be allowed to because it just wouldn't be fair!"
My mother is an engineer. She spent most of her working years in the
, a country that is no longer on the map. In the USSR , salaries for engineers (indeed, almost for everyone) were very low, and it virtually didn't matter whether you worked harder or for longer hours than your peers. Of course, this didn't make people want to work hard. It made them want to slack off. Did this principle of "equality" provide a better economical model? No. It simply didn't work. Healthy, real-life competition is a cornerstone of good economics. USSR
Finally, let's not forget those hard-working men who put in long hours without complaining. Some do that because they are competitive by nature and want to be on top of things. Others do it because it's simply the only way to survive in the field they happen to be in. Does it come at an expense of time they could have been spending at home with their wife and children? Certainly. But they do what needs to be done to provide for their families, without demanding that everyone else do back flips in order to accommodate their preferences. They also don't get all that hype about "fulfilling your potential"; most men work because they have to work and that's it. Working has always been hard, ever since it was defined in the Bible as a curse of "toiling by the sweat of your brow". It's only the feminists that want to try and make us forget it.