What Hope Is There for the Rest of Us?
My heart sank when I saw this article on the front page of The Washington Post.
"Michelle Obama's Career Time Out."
Front page coverage presenting her as a high profile victim of the balancing/opt-out discussion.
I'm not upset by Obama's decision to take time off from her career for family reasons -- so many of us have made that decision (I'm NOT going to call it a "choice"). After all, her husband is running for that POTUS job. Gotta be just a teeny bit of pressure there on the family.
But I know other people will be. It will only be a few media minutes from now when our same-gender critics take this one up and try to make it into a rallying cry for staying in the workplace, no matter what, to advance the cause of the sisterhood.
I'd like to see her tale used as a rally for something different.
If someone as high-profile as Michelle Obama can't negotiate a workplace accommodation, then where does that leave the rest of us?
I can only hope that somehow her husband Barack Obama can use this to illustrate as a campaign issue why more workplaces need to shift the view of what is workable for professional people, women AND men alike.
It's not about women not being able to suck it up and stick it out. It's about dragging employers kicking and screaming into the 21st Century and understanding that we're not living in a 1950's world anymore.
Maybe they won't get it until more women leave the workplace and they see their bottom lines plummeting when half the qualified work force steps off the track and businesses are left scrambling for qualified replacements.