Friday, May 18, 2007

Boston Boards

Where do I start?

...I have heard numerous opinions of people telling me not to go into law.

Not the best reason to choose one's career; externally motivated people are at the whim of others and tend not to end up as "leaders."

The only choices I feel I have, if I want to be happy at my job, are law or social work.

Do not later, then, complain about the so-called gender-wage gap; why?

I'm not in it for the money.

Because, to an extent, apparently, greater than that of women, men are "in it" for the money.

I'm not in it for the title or the prestige.

I repeat: you will have no logical basis, later, to complain of any so-called gender-wage gap.

I also want to have a family, and I want to share responsibility for housework and childcare with my husband.

Good luck with that. Why not eschew children and focus on a career? Why not outsource--a nanny and a maid? Why not let the husband, if he so desires, spend his "household dollars" on a nanny and a maid? Will he be a free and equal partner, able to allocate his time and money as he sees best fit (under your proposed regime)?

If Johnny has to stay home from school with strep throat or the stomache flu, I want to stay with him for half that time, and have my husband stay for the other half.

Then both of you will suffer in your careers; further (and this is, admittedly, a gross generalization), you risk some level of resentment from the husband, who may derive joy from the very fear you cite next:

I want my children's father to be more than just a wallet to them.

While you put it rather crassly, some men prefer to be "a wallet," i.e., to be a "breadwinner," a "provider." It is a tangible method of contributing to the overall success of the family unit (rather than to the desires of individual participants). Specialization is at the heart of effective economics, you know, division of labor and all (or don't they teach that anymore?).

not just the one that puts the roof over their heads and food on their table and shoes on their feet,

And what, pray tell, is wrong with THAT? Dear g-sh, we don't wanna have a man do THAT any more, now do we?

but one of the two people that goes to soccer games on weekends and takes them for ice cream after.

Nothing you have stated precludes weekend activity; indeed, in my experience, it is the dads who are involved in weekend sports--I don't see too many female soccer coaches (of teams of either sex), have never seen a female baseball coach (and we're talking Little League here, people; you know, volunteer type stuff). I see lots of moms in the stands (but no more than dads, really), and only dads on the field.

I'm just saying that the work women do should be valued just as much as what men do.

I infer, by this, that you mean valued monetarily. If so, then do the work that is valued thus. Law or social work... hmm...? Social work is valued, I would guess, by those receiving it (only, of course, they can't pay--but you get their undying gratitude; shouldn't that be "worth" something?). Law, on the other hand, has the potential to create value (think M&A); social work is a net drain, a "cost center," as it were.

Especially if they're doing the same work.

If men and women are doing the same work, then likely they are earning the same pay (although women often earn higher pay for the same work, they being in higher demand in the search for "diversity.") The difference is that some (you?) will define "same work" as something other than "same work," e.g., "equivalent work." You wanna earn what the crabbers make? Be a crabber. You wanna earn what big-wig corporate lawyers make? Be a big-wig corporate lawyer (and do what it takes). You want a plush chair in a nice office with convenient hours? Gee, don't we all--and that excess supply is what drives the wages down.

If I could hire a woman to do a job at 80% of standard pay--I would be rich! Fact is, in order to achieve the credentials and commitment I need to keep clients happy, my ratio of acceptable resumes is about 8:1 in favor of men ("Oh, 50% travel, you say? Gee, I guess I can't do that." "Oh, you prefer math & engineering in addition to top-ten MBA + JD? Sorry, I majored in sociology." "Oh, you mean I would have to relocate? I could never relocate; I guess I'll just stay right here, thanks.")

And if both parents are working, then they should share in housework and child care as well.

Maybe you like "housework"; maybe you revel in "child care"; maybe you will find a husband who also enjoys those activities (and somehow manages to have enough career ambition/earnings horsepower to meet your other needs). But what if your chosen spouse says "housework? Uh, can't we just hire someone? Oh, and I have a good lead on an au pair"? What then?

Easy solution #1: skip the children. If you can acknowledge that children are incompatible with the fullest realization of career goals (as is shown by the lack of a gender-wage gap among the "never married"), then you will never confront those issues currently ahead of you.

If you insist on choosing a family and refuse to acknowledge that that choice leads to a diminution fo your family's earnings capacity, well, the great g-d Adam Smith ain't gonna give a flyin'. Nor will D-rwin, for that matter.

Here's an example (and, from my experience--and likely yours--a fairly modal one): I think I am a fine housekeeper; heck, my grad-skool apartment didn't have cockroaches! My girlfriend (now wife) thought I was a pig, though. Fundamental sensory differences. "Hmm... that smells okay; I guess I'll wear it." "Hey, this food smells okay; I guess I'll eat it." That sort of thing.

To me it just. didn't. matter. And it still doesn't. And it never will. But because I love my wife, I now pick up my socks and put my shoes in a closet and leave my paperwork at the office and even clean the bathrooms. Additionally, out of the goodness of her heart, she allows me to do the things I enjoy: maintain the vehicles; mow the lawn; coach (girls) soccer; do the dishes. Oh, and pay the mortgages and tuitions, accumulate retirement benefits, and buy shoes for the children.

Interestingly, my wife (who has know me for at least twenty years) and I got together long before money mattered--and back when the prospect of earning anything substantial was not even under consideration; now, with the children and all, she has come to the honest realization that, heck, money does matter, and by gum I had better be doing all I can to maximize famiy income. She does her part: simplifies (and, hence, maximizes) my non-work life; raises the children; manages the home finances; etc. She is the micromanager; I am the macromanager.

[And before you go getting too many ideas: my wife was a College Democrat, a member of the Women's Coalition, and a full-on Management Consultant, back in the day. I have always been...just me. My views today are pretty much what they were when I was 12--in more ways than one--and I am happy to find that my way of thinking has led to greater happiness for, let's see, at least six people and counting...]

Life is about compromise--and marriage, more so. You just keep on with your supposed "ideals"; go ahead, no skin off'n my nose. But I have grown increasingly impressed with the familial and financial happiness awaiting those who know themselves and follow through with what makes them genuinely happy.

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