By Irisneida Rodriguez
According to the Morton College student demographics, females accounted for 57.2 percent of enrollees for the 2016-17 school year. I began wondering how many of us have, or plan to have children? How many of us have or will be affected by maternity leave or simply any other time needed off during the initial childbearing years? How will that impact our earnings and status in the workplace?
These are all questions that I find myself thinking about because one day I want to have children but also have a professional occupation. And so, adding to my worries, lies the thought of how will I successfully balance the work and housework (which includes, but isn’t limited to childcare).
I heard of the term “leaning in” in my Sociology class. After reading a few articles on the topic I came to an understanding of what it is and if it’s the right thing for women to do. This social phenomenon has been in headlines for a few years now. The term came about from a book published in 2013, written by Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg. The book was titled, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.
A quote from Sandberg’s mentions,
“I have written this book to encourage women to dream big, forge a path through the obstacles, and achieve their full potential”.
Ultimately, the goal of the book seems to be to motivate women to “lean in”, meaning, to work hard and take their role at work serious to earn a lead occupation, promotions and raises. What are the consequences of leaning in?
An article titled “The Real Reason Women Should Lean In” by Liz O’ Donnell, published by the Huffpost, presents how leaning in at the start of the career (or job) can be beneficial later. O’ Donnell goes on to present a personal anecdote of how leaning in since the start of her career has allowed her to keep her job and ask for more work flexibility. For example, she mentions joining management team meeting via Skype and later says;
“If your employer doesn’t know that they can trust you to get work done anywhere, anytime, they’re less likely to grant you flex accommodations”.
To O’Donnell, building a trustworthy, reliable, efficient and valuable image of yourself in the workplace will help once you’ll need those days off or flexibility whether it’s to care for children or even elderly parents, it is worth “leaning in” for.
An article titled “Recline, don’t ‘Lean in’ (Why I hate Sheryl Sandberg)” by Rosa Brooks, published by The Washington Post in 2014 she stands against the idea of “leaning in”. She mentions her hate for Sandberg isn’t anything personal, but because before she changed her ways and was convinced to “lean in”, she “had a life, had friends, family, children, hobbies, occasional vacations and eight hours of sleep.” Now, she was miserable and had spent too much time building her network that became too tired and felt “boxed in”.
In Brook’s point of view, leaning in is like a trap. It is making women tired and eventually want to drop out of their professional occupation. Brooks claims,
“If we truly want gender equality, we need to challenge the assumption that more is always better,”
She also argues that we must stand against the assumption that men don’t suffer as much as women when they’re exhausted and have no time for family or fun.” To back up her arguments Brook’s mentions that women work that “double-shift” because they do far more housework and childcare than men do.
To lean in or not to lean in: that is the question. This corny trope came to mind, but it really is a matter that should be of concern to not only us women but men as well.
This topic is related directly to the institution of the family can be sociologically analyzed by the symbolic-interaction perspective. How will your romantic relationship be affected by having little to no time for care when your partner is constantly busy with work.
What is your take on being expected to work extra hours as a sign of being a better worker than someone else? Are you supporting her career? How will you and your household be affected if your partner is earning below what she should be?
Ladies, what are your takes on this matter? Why is parental and family leave unpaid for many in need, even if it’s highly likely and inevitable in most occasions? In my opinion, what this says about our country is that ubiquity in work valued over the personal lives of human beings.
A Pew Research Study of 2013 presents that the percent of 25 to 32-year-olds with at least a four-year college degree has been steadily on the rise since 1993 (when both gender categories lied at about 25 percent). Women have surpassed men with 38 percent compared to 31 percent.
We can expect more women to join the professional workforce and take on lead positions but will leaning in have what we consider “successful” results without damaging the family arena? Or is leaning in motivating and encouraging more women to work to their full potential and earn benefits but feeling incompletely happy in their personal lives?
Photo from Wikipedia