No matter how you earn a living, chances are the stress of juggling work with family life feels like a Sisyphean task. Something has to give, and it’s usually your career. Especially if you’re a woman.
According to The Pew Research Center, “a significant share of adults have changed the course of their work life in order to care for a child or other family member, and women are much more likely than men to have done this.”
Anne-Marie Slaughter changed course work-wise for this very reason, leaving her job as director of policy planning at the US State Department for a career in academia because it was a better fit for raising her kids. Addressing the deficiencies in public policy that sparked her exodus, Slaughter wrote in “Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family”:
“The problem is with the workplace, or more precisely, with a workplace designed for the Mad Men era, for Leave It to Beaver families in which one partner does all the work of earning an income and the other partner does all the work of turning that income into care — the care that is indispensable for our children, our sick and disabled, our elderly.”
Let’s give policymakers the benefit of the doubt and assume they didn’t interpret the gonzo success of Mad Men as the longing for a bygone era.
And there is some good news:
- In the streets and on the presidential trail, everyday citizens are forcing politicians to acknowledge the pressures of finding a work/life balance, and to support the needs of family caregivers.
- And the media is paying attention, giving these issues more coverage.
And here are 3 excellent articles showing how the imperfect workplace affects every generation:
Brigid Schulte at The Washington Post
Millennials want a work-life balance. Their bosses just don’t get why.
“Lack of flexibility was cited among the top reasons millennials quit jobs. And nearly 40 percent of young workers, male or female, in the United States are so unhappy with the lack of paid parental-leave policies that they say they would be willing to move to another country.”
Jim Emerman at NextAvenue
At 65, I Still Want to Have It All
“The divide between working and caring is plaguing the way employers approach the need for work/life balance for people at all life stages.”
Claire Cain Miller at The Upshot/New York Times
The Great Divide in Workplace Benefits
“For a small, lucky set of parents, the work-family juggle is relatively easy. Their employers give them paid leave; nannies to accompany them on business trips; flexible hours; child and elder care; and even on-site haircuts and nap rooms. For the rest of American workers, life tends to be much more difficult.”
Just reading these articles will make you more aware of the demand for innovative solutions in a changing America.