Making motherhood a career

Girls outperform boys in school; women are more likely to go to college and earn a degree. Men have been hit much harder by the recession and the changing economy. But a growing number of career women are choosing to make child-raising and home-making into a career, according to Emily Matchar’s Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity,

Disillusioned workers are “opting into a slower, more sustainable, and more self-sufficient lifestyle,”  writes Ann Friedman in a New Republic review.

The woman who leaves the public workplace is “the Brooklyn hipster who quit her PR job to sell hand-knitted scarves at craft fairs,” Matchar writes. “She’s the dreadlocked ‘radical homemaker’ who raises her own chickens to reduce her carbon footprint. She’s the thirty-one-year-old new mom who starts an artisan cupcake company from her home kitchen rather than return to her law firm. He’s the hard-driven Ivy Leaguer fleeing corporate life for a Vermont farm.”

Thanks to technology, the new homemaker can sell her crafts online and chronicle her quilting, baking and homeschooling projects online.

 “This lifestyle wouldn’t work if women were raising their perfect, happy, locavore children in the middle of the woods with no internet connection,” one professor tells Matchar.

From my point of view, the new homemakers are making their jobs a lot harder than they need to be. They grow their own vegetables, raise chickens and goats  (and slaughter their own meat!), weave, knit, quilt and sew and practice attachment parenting. Letting babies go diaperless is the latest fad. “Elimination communication” requires a a hyper-alert caregiver.

It’s hard to balance child-raising with a career in the U.S. But, women work less, earn less and are less likely to hold managerial and professional jobs in countries with family-friendly policies, writes Christina Hoff Sommers.

Sweden offers 16 months of paid parental leave, special protections for part-time workers, and state-subsidized preschools. Gender equality is government policy.

In a 2012 report, the World Economic Forum found that when it comes to closing the gender gap in “economic participation and opportunity,” the United States is ahead of not only Sweden but also Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Iceland, Germany, and the United Kingdom. . . .  Though the United States has fewer women in the workforce (68 percent compared to Sweden’s 77 percent), American women who choose to be employed are far more likely to work full-time and to hold high-level jobs as managers or professionals. They also own more businesses, launch more start start-ups, and more often work in traditionally male fields. As for breaking the glass ceiling in business, American women are well in the lead . . .

Mothers are much more likely than fathers to take long parental leaves and work part-time, according to a study by Cornell economists Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn.

. . . most seem to enjoy the flex-time arrangement (once known as the “mommy track”) and never find their way back to full-time or high-level employment.

Employers prefer to hire man, knowing they are less likely to take a long leave and then work part-time, add Blau and Kahn.

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Comments

  1. Stacy in NJ says:

    The following is complete bs:

    “The woman who leaves the public workplace is “the Brooklyn hipster who quit her PR job to sell hand-knitted scarves at craft fairs,” Matchar writes. “She’s the dreadlocked ‘radical homemaker’ who raises her own chickens to reduce her carbon footprint. She’s the thirty-one-year-old new mom who starts an artisan cupcake company from her home kitchen rather than return to her law firm. He’s the hard-driven Ivy Leaguer fleeing corporate life for a Vermont farm.”

    Can you tell this is from the New Republic?

    Yeah, no. Most working women who opt out aren’t faux new survivalists or hipsters or Yale graduates. They’re working and middle class women who find out something men have known for generations. Most jobs, careers if you prefer, are at best modestly satisfying and at worst mind-numbingly soul destroying.

    These types of articles that identify “working women” as living in coastal cities and having prestigious careers are self stroking material. They flatter the kind of people (women in this case) who are likely to read publications like TNR and have little to do with the masses of real women across America.

    • Exactly— And since for most middle class women, the money earned barely covers daycare, gas, clothes for work, eating out, and those random work expenses that pop up (Chip in $$ for Bob’s retirement gift! We’re buying a present for the boss for bosses day! etc. etc.), it makes more sense to cut back here and there and NOT work outside the home. Plus, the daycare provider is probably not as good a caregiver as you are, and pumping is a HUGE hassle.

      • Stacy in NJ says:

        And, once your children are high school or college aged, you can return to the work force. You might not be able to pursue a high powered position, but you probably won’t need to be a big earner (if you’ve been fugal in the earlier years) and can simply pursue something that interests you while still earning a few extra bucks. Life isn’t over after 40 or even 50. We’re living to nearly 80 now.

    • Crimson Wife says:

      Many times those “hobby careers” are socially acceptable covers for moms who want to be full-time homemakers despite having expensive educations. It’s a lot more socially acceptable to be an “artisan” farmer or to be an Etsy entrepreneur than to admit being just a SAHM.

  2. There’s also the issue of child care and what the choices are like. On a recent visit to an affluent area in the close-in DC suburbs, I witness what my family tells me is the usual weekday/weekend playground situation. During the week, it was almost all nannies and, on the weekend, almost all parents. It was impossible not to notice that the nannies rarely talked to their charges as their affluent professional parents did; they mostly talked on their cell phones and to one another (almost all in Spanish) and their interaction with their charges was mostly short instructions. If that situation becomes widespread, how long will it be before the “upper-middle-class advantage” disappears?

  3. Richard Aubrey says:

    The prospect of the on-line sales issue can be bewitching. Figure there are a third of a billion Americans. One tenth of one percent is, if my math is correct, just over 300,000. If you can net a buck from half of them every other year, you’re going to be pretty fat.
    I have a friend who figured out how to do that, from home, and is doing fabulously well. Problem is, it’s work, and it takes time. Still, most of it can be fitted in around feeding, changing, picking up from dance class, and so forth.
    Feminists, complaining about women not having careers like men implied that all men have days which start with a power breakfast catered by a five-star restaurant, followed by a really keen down-sizing–of somebody else–lunch at a private club followed by a management retreat to Tahoe.