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blogging on flexibility in the workplace

Telework and Promotions: New Study Emphasizes Need for Results-Focus

Thanks to a new study pubished in MIT Sloan Management Review this week, we have some fun new terms to discuss today. Except, they’re not really new. 

If you haven’t read any of the multitude of articles (like herehere, and here) about this study, then here’s a quick overview. The study argues that office workers and bosses are heavily influenced by “passive face time,” the mere presence of someone’s face in the office on a regular basis. The data shows, whether consciously or unconsciously, managers focus on presenteeism when it comes down to performance reviews and promotions.

Now for the new, fun terms:

You Can Do What Mayer and Slaughter Do

What’s stunning about the reaction to Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All” and the news that new Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is pregnant is the size and scope of the reaction itself.

And I can explain that reaction with a screen shot.

Those two tweets.

The first one she sent broadcasts competence “I’m a new CEO tomorrow.” And the second one suggests warmth and caring “I’m going to be a mom.” Right next to each other. Tweeted within 7 hours of each other.

A woman who embodies competence AND warmth and caring. In our collective cultural subconscious that does not compute. And that combination has people’s heads spinning and their tongues wagging.

“Can I Have it All?” is the Wrong Question

When I speak to groups of young women and men, more and more frequently the question I get isn’t “Can I have it all?” it’s “Should I have kids at all?”

Young women and couples watch as friends have children, and see new mothers and fathers completely stressed out juggling work and family, marriages unraveling, bank accounts strained, careers derailed, and hobbies and exercise and sleep and friends pushed aside. They wonder if they really want to sign up for that.

Couples that already have one small child ask me a different question, “Can we afford to have another child at all?” They know from experience what having a child means, and they are thoughtfully and fretfully adding up the childcare, the bigger house, the college education, and the possibility that a second child will be the straw that breaks the back of at least one of their careers and thinking the math just doesn’t make sense. They want me to double check their calculations.

In a big sisterly way, I tell these women and men to consider an option they probably haven’t – have one child.

“Working Maternity Leaves” Aren’t the Solution

This blog was cross-posted from Womenstake, the National Women’s Law Center’s blog.

On Monday, the news broke that a pregnant woman is now leading a Fortune 500 company—an important and exciting milestone. Before being appointed CEO of Yahoo this week, Marissa Mayer disclosed her pregnancy to Yahoo’s Board. When she announced her pregnancy publicly on Monday, she praised the Board for its “evolved thinking” in hiring her anyway – that is, for not violating the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

I’m not so sure following the law is all that praiseworthy, but here’s what made me cringe as I read the otherwise great news of a pregnant woman breaking through the glass ceiling:

On Having It All

Excerpted from full piece at The Huffington Post

Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All” published in The Atlantic has struck a collective nerve, breaking readership records on the magazine’s website and generating all manner of buzz.

I admire her courage to speak out on the subject, given that she was once director of policy planning at the State Department. And I appreciate her acknowledgement that high-achieving women in places of power in our country have been complicit in contributing to the prevailing sentiment that women who don’t have it all must not want it all.

But, the reason she’s hit a collective nerve is because she’s tapped into the employee side of the inequitable work-life balance. Readers everywhere identify with her struggle to have it all and are happy that a high-powered woman has admitted it’s hard to manage career and family.

My Advice to Women Who Give Advice to Women

Cross-posted from The Huffington Post.

By now, you’ve probably either read or read about Anne-Marie Slaughter’s Atlantic essay in which she recounts from personal experience why she believes women cannot “have it all” and calls on all of us to recognize the conditions that must change to make it possible for women to thrive in careers and motherhood.

As someone who has been writing about this issue for three years, I read her essay with relief. Finally! Now, at last, we can have the dialogue we should have been having for the last few decades instead of all the bogus “Mommy Wars.” How can we make the workplace more friendly to women — and men — with family obligations?

Slaughter versus Sandberg: Both Right

First, thanks to Anne-Marie Slaughter for peeling the band-aid off an open wound of American womanhood. It’s our dirty little secret: balancing work and family is still impossible for elite American women because of the way we structure work, family, love, marriage, careers, masculinity, and dignity.

Yes. It’s that bad. Fifteen years ago, when I began to write Unbending Gender: Why Family and Work Conflicts and What To Do About It, I thought that all we needed to do was to reshape work and careers. The key problem for women, I pointed out, is that workplaces still are designed around an ideal worker who starts to work in early adulthood and works, full time and full force, for forty years without a break, taking no time off for childbearing, childrearing, or anything else. The result is a clash of social ideals. The ideal worker norm clashes with the norm of parental care: the widespread and uncontroversial sense that children need and deserve time with their parents.

The Gifts Mothers Really Want

My favorite Mother’s day gifts from my sons were their original stories, songs and poems. But what I needed when they were infants and toddlers was something children can’t deliver: affordable time off when they were born and when they were sick.

So for all those candidates and elected officials interested in the women’s vote and eager to prove their support for motherhood and families, here’s a sampling of what mothers want and need, not just one day a year but every day:

The right to care for a sick child or personal illness without losing our paychecks or our jobs. Moms need leaders to actively support the right for workers to earn paid sick days and champion local, state and federal policies that would guarantee this protection. Make sure no one has to choose between being a good parent and being a good employee — and that no one has to serve you flu with your soup.

Earth Week is for Mothers

by Rachel Sarnoff, Executive Director & CEO
Healthy Child Healthy World

Happiest Babies Are Soothed by 5 S’s

Can simple soothing take the place of sugar? That was the takeaway from a new study published this week in the journal Pediatrics. In a study involving more than 200 infants, researchers found the “5 S’s” baby-calming tactics worked better than the sugar-water supplements traditionally given to infants after experiencing pain, according to ABC News. The 5 S’s tactics were developed by Dr. Harvey Karp, a founding board member of Healthy Child Healthy World and author of “The Happiest Baby on the Block” book and video series. Yet another reason to “shh-shh-shh”!

Carcinogens in the House

The question no one is asking about Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg

The world is sludging Sheryl Sandberg. What is “sludge?” you ask? Read on!

This story has been buzzing around the internet this week, and it’s been driving me crazy.

Pete Cashmore of Mashable writes in this article:

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg recently set off quite a debate in the tech world when she told an interviewer that she works a 9-to-5 schedule:

“I walk out of this office every day at 5:30 so I’m home for dinner with my kids at 6, and interestingly, I’ve been doing that since I had kids,” Sandberg said in a video posted on “I did that when I was at Google, I did that here, and I would say it’s not until the last year, two years that I’m brave enough to talk about it publicly. Now I certainly wouldn’t lie, but I wasn’t running around giving speeches on it.”

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