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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

changing the work culture « Previous | |Next »
July 6, 2012

In Why Women Still Cannot Have it All in The Atlantic Anne Marie Slaughter argues that under current work arrangements it is not possible for highly educated, well-off women to combine professional success and satisfaction with a real commitment to family. The 16 hour days at work that are required are too long if they want to raise children and lead a balanced life. It leads to a one dimensional life.

The reason is the system of work, which is one of inflexible schedules, the conflicts between school schedules and work schedules, unrelenting travel, and constant pressure to be in the office. Given this kind of work culture--- arrive early, stay late, and always be available---it is possible women can have high-powered careers as long as their husbands or partners are willing to share the parenting load equally (or disproportionately) that means they have put work ahead of family to achieve their work-life balance.

But why not change the work culture to allow easier integration of work and family life? More working at home, greater use of video-conferencing,and changing the assumptions about adapting the work culture to allow for the routines of family life through family -friendly policies offer ways to begin to challenge the assumptions underpinning this male culture and the view that women can have it all.

As Eva Cox observes inarticle at The Conversation:

This notion [that women could have it all]is a media myth that somehow translated the idea that women should not be excluded from any sphere on the basis of sex into the sexy but fallacious view that we could have it all.

She says that feminists need to point out that we want to take on our share of decisions and jobs, but not until the structures and cultures change in recognition that is not the good way to run the country or other organisations.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 3:23 PM | | Comments (1)


"The reason is the system of work..."

I don't mind if a feminist-dominated movement wants to rethink the way we go to work. For my money, there is altogether too much hierarchy, bullying and pointless rule-making in the workplace. But women need to be clear about what they are trying to do.

Historically, feminists have basically fought for "a slice of the action" - a bigger place for women in the traditionally-organised workplace. If, now, they want to change the workplace, fine, only they need to be clear about the changed objective. That should involve a fruitful and no-holds-barred discussion of what's wrong with today's workplaces.