I’m a lot like Sheryl Sandberg, or at least her public persona. Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you I’m a hard-driving, productive, leadership-prone woman who believes it is critically important for women to be confident, unashamed of their talents, and serious about careers they want. I have worked my ass off to achieve the c.v. I have, and I have enjoyed it. But the truth is, I intentionally lean out of my career. A lot.
A good friend is facing a book deadline of her own, and I offered to be her book nag, and so I found myself sharing with her my tips on how to manage writing a book when you’re also a mother. . . .
The mate and Bob the Builder pulled off more of the mantle. This, in turn, exposed what was obviously once a chipmunk nest, as well as evidence of what might have been former nests of small birds. They’d been sneaking in through the siding, into this warm space between the mantle and the outside of the house. I tackled it all with barbecue tongs and the shopvac. Thunk, thunk, thunk, went the acorns up the vacuum tube. Then, last week, came the bat.
I often say, honestly, if the woman I was before I had a child could see the woman I am now, there is no way she would have a kid. That woman was so intense about her work, so used to having her schedule at her control, so used to napping, eating, watching a movie, and having sex whenever she felt like it, she would be horrified to see herself as me.
So, I find myself thinking what at first blush feels like a very un-feminist thought: Enough already with the special exceptions in academia for women who choose to be mothers.
We’re supposed to laugh at her desperately trying to get home through a hurricane to get to her daughters’ recital. We’re supposed to snicker at her reeling off, to her assistants, what she needs done in the next ten minutes.
No, not that kind of pot. I’m talking about a Le Creuset 3.5-quart French oven in the red-orange color they call flame. That’s the pot that made me give up tenure.
You can’t be at work and be with your kid. Period.
An idea: Get university counsel to reclassify faculty offspring as intellectual property of the university. Then also use the offspring as naming opportunities. The latter has the added benefit of reminding faculty members, each time they call their children’s names, of their duties to the university.
Once you get tenure, you’re depressed to learn the job doesn’t actually slow down, and you’re powerless to change the system. And now there’s lots more expectations for promotion to full, and no one thinks it is okay to just live with the associate position.