The Career Track Vs. The Parent Track
For many women childbirth doesn't just herald the beginning of a new phase of family life, it also means being shifted to the Mommy track from the career track. On the Mommy track you are perceived as being less committed to your job and the quality of your work. Career advancement slows down...as does salary advancement...and you may start getting less desirable assignments and fewer opportunities to grow in your job. 

On the surface, the Mommy-track seems to be a uniquely female experience. After all, no one assumes that a businessman who becomes a father for the first time will AUTOMATICALLY be less interested in his career. In fact, often these fellows are perceived as being more career-oriented...after all, they now have a family to support. 

If you look beneath the surface of the Mommy-track there's an even more insidious attitude about parents, families and work lurking there. Despite the good economic times of the last ten years, corporations expect everyone to put in more hours, be more productive, benefit the company more than they ever have. This expectation comes with an attitude of "If you are willing to work hard, you'll be rewarded (or maybe we'll just let you keep your job)." For men the expectation is that raising the family is a hands off affair and Dad can afford to, even WANTS to put in all those extra hours so he can provide more goodies for the kids. For women the assumption is that they will become good little worker bees without the needed COMMITTMENT to get ahead...expendable and forgettable in the world of the bottom line. 

But why should ANYONE spend 50+ hours a week working for a corporation that ultimately has no loyalty? It may be a cliche, but the truth is, how many of us will wish, on our death beds, that we had spent more time with the boss? 

Corporate America seems to want us to become a nation of workaholics, dedicating all of our waking time to furthering the goals of profitability and shareholder dividends. But what's in it for us? Is it reasonable for us, male or female, partnered or single, parent or non-parent, to be expected to live our lives for the corporation, forsaking our family and personal life? And in the long run is it worth it for the corporation? Does it really make for a happy workforce that is more skilled, more productive and wanting to do a good job. 

My personal belief is that it's a short-sighted solution to problems that ultimately originate with poor business decisions and long-term planning at the level of upper management. And it asks those who have had no say in making those bad decisions to pay a very steep price for the incompetence of others. 

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