Thursday, August 16, 2012

'Women Can’t Have It All'

Não se iludam. As mulheres que conseguem conciliar a vida familiar com uma carreira de (muito) sucesso ou são super-mulheres, ou são ricas e têm quem as ajude a tomar conta dos filhos, ou têm uma profissão que lhes permite estabelecer os seus próprios horários. Quem o diz é Anne-Marie Slaughter, que depois de dois anos a viver em Washington, longe da família, deixou o seu emprego no Departamento de Estado dos EUA para poder acompanhar os dois filhos adolescentes em casa, New Jersey. E até hoje é olhada de lado por muitas feministas que não percebem como é que ela foi capaz de dar um tão mau exemplo às jovens.
O artigo que ela escreveu na edição de julho/agosto da revista The Atlantic é, mesmo que não se concorde com tudo , um bom ponto de partida para discutir as políticas de conciliação trabalho/família.  Sei que pode parecer um bocado estranho eu estar aqui a citar uma pessoa com opiniões tão conservadoras, mas infelizmente parece que esta batalha pela família tem sido uma causa da direita. Sim, há aqui umas ideias  que talvez sejam demais para mim e ela deixa bem claro que está a falar de mulheres que, como ela, pertencem a uma elite, rica, educada, com hipóteses de chegar mesmo ao topo da carreira. Mas, por outro lado, muitos dos problemas que ela aqui aponta são comuns a todas nós, em maior ou menor escala.
E também por isso convém ouvir a dirigente do Facebool, Sheryl Sandberg, citada no texto, que declarou numa entrevista que sai do trabalho todos os dias às 17:30 para jantar às 18:00 com os seus dois filhos, de 6 e 8 anos, e perceber como durante muito tempo se sentiu culpada por não estar no escritório a trabalhar àquela hora, como todos os outros. Portanto, só o facto de estarmos a falar nisto, sem medo de sermos acusadas de estarmos a pôr em causa os direitos conquistados pelas mulheres, já é um ponto positivo.
Não, não queremos voltar ao tempo em que as mulheres ficavam em casa e passavam o dia limpar o pó e a tratar das crianças. Mas gostaríamos de, se tivermos as capacidades profissionais para tal, podermos progredir na carreira sem termos que nos comportar como homens, sem ignorar a nossa família e sem fingirmos que não gostamos de estar com os nossos filhos.
É verdade, as mulheres não conseguem ter tudo, pelo menos para já. Mas podemos tentar mudar.

Vale a pena ler tudo, mas como o artigo é mesmo muito longo, deixo aqui um resumo:

"(...) What poured out of me was a set of very frank reflections on how unexpectedly hard it was to do the kind of job I wanted to do as a high government official and be the kind of parent I wanted to be, at a demanding time for my children (even though my husband, an academic, was willing to take on the lion’s share of parenting for the two years I was in Washington). 
(...) Women of my generation have clung to the feminist credo we were raised with, even as our ranks have been steadily thinned by unresolvable tensions between family and career, because we are determined not to drop the flag for the next generation. 
(...) I still strongly believe that women can “have it all” (and that men can too). I believe that we can “have it all at the same time.” But not today, not with the way America’s economy and society are currently structured. My experiences over the past three years have forced me to confront a number of uncomfortable facts that need to be widely acknowledged—and quickly changed.
(...) Before my service in government, I’d spent my career in academia: as a law professor and then as the dean of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Both were demanding jobs, but I had the ability to set my own schedule most of the time. I could be with my kids when I needed to be, and still get the work done. I had to travel frequently, but I found I could make up for that with an extended period at home or a family vacation. 
I knew that I was lucky in my career choice, but I had no idea how lucky until I spent two years in Washington (...)  For two years, I never left the office early enough to go to any stores other than those open 24 hours, which meant that everything from dry cleaning to hair appointments to Christmas shopping had to be done on weekends, amid children’s sporting events, music lessons, family meals, and conference calls. I was entitled to four hours of vacation per pay period, which came to one day of vacation a month. 
(...) In short, the minute I found myself in a job that is typical for the vast majority of working women (and men), working long hours on someone else’s schedule, I could no longer be both the parent and the professional I wanted to be—at least not with a child experiencing a rocky adolescence. I realized what should have perhaps been obvious: having it all, at least for me, depended almost entirely on what type of job I had. The flip side is the harder truth: having it all was not possible in many types of jobs, including high government office—at least not for very long. (...)
It’s possible if you are just committed enough.
(...) To be sure, the women who do make it to the top are highly committed to their profession. On closer examination, however, it turns out that most of them have something else in common: they are genuine superwomen. (...)  These women cannot possibly be the standard against which even very talented professional women should measure themselves. Such a standard sets up most women for a sense of failure. (...) What’s more, among those who have made it to the top, a balanced life still is more elusive for women than it is for men. A simple measure is how many women in top positions have children compared with their male colleagues. Every male Supreme Court justice has a family. Two of the three female justices are single with no children.  (...)
Sandberg thinks that “something” is an “ambition gap”—that women do not dream big enough. I am all for encouraging young women to reach for the stars. But I fear that the obstacles that keep women from reaching the top are rather more prosaic than the scope of their ambition. My longtime and invaluable assistant, who has a doctorate and juggles many balls as the mother of teenage twins, e-mailed me while I was working on this article: “You know what would help the vast majority of women with work/family balance? MAKE SCHOOL SCHEDULES MATCH WORK SCHEDULES.” The present system, she noted, is based on a society that no longer exists—one in which farming was a major occupation and stay-at-home moms were the norm. Yet the system hasn’t changed.
(...) These “mundane” issues—the need to travel constantly to succeed, the conflicts between school schedules and work schedules, the insistence that work be done in the office—cannot be solved by exhortations to close the ambition gap. I would hope to see commencement speeches that finger America’s social and business policies, rather than women’s level of ambition, in explaining the dearth of women at the top. But changing these policies requires much more than speeches. It means fighting the mundane battles—every day, every year—in individual workplaces, in legislatures, and in the media.
It’s possible if you marry the right person.
Sandberg’s second message in her Barnard commencement address was: “The most important career decision you’re going to make is whether or not you have a life partner and who that partner is.” (...) Still, the proposition that women can have high-powered careers as long as their husbands or partners are willing to share the parenting load equally (or disproportionately) assumes that most women will feel as comfortable as men do about being away from their children, as long as their partner is home with them. In my experience, that is simply not the case.
Many factors determine this choice, of course. Men are still socialized to believe that their primary family obligation is to be the breadwinner; women, to believe that their primary family obligation is to be the caregiver. But it may be more than that. When I described the choice between my children and my job to Senator Jeanne Shaheen, she said exactly what I felt: “There’s really no choice.” She wasn’t referring to social expectations, but to a maternal imperative felt so deeply that the “choice” is reflexive.
(...) To many men, however, the choice to spend more time with their children, instead of working long hours on issues that affect many lives, seems selfish. Male leaders are routinely praised for having sacrificed their personal life on the altar of public or corporate service. (...) It is not clear to me that this ethical framework makes sense for society. Why should we want leaders who fall short on personal responsibilities? Perhaps leaders who invested time in their own families would be more keenly aware of the toll their public choices—on issues from war to welfare—take on private lives.  (...) Regardless, it is clear which set of choices society values more today. Workers who put their careers first are typically rewarded; workers who choose their families are overlooked, disbelieved, or accused of unprofessionalism.
In sum, having a supportive mate may well be a necessary condition if women are to have it all, but it is not sufficient. If women feel deeply that turning down a promotion that would involve more travel, for instance, is the right thing to do, then they will continue to do that. Ultimately, it is society that must change, coming to value choices to put family ahead of work just as much as those to put work ahead of family. If we really valued those choices, we would value the people who make them; if we valued the people who make them, we would do everything possible to hire and retain them; if we did everything possible to allow them to combine work and family equally over time, then the choices would get a lot easier.
It’s possible if you sequence it right.
Young women should be wary of the assertion “You can have it all; you just can’t have it all at once.”  (...) People tend to marry later now, and anyway, if you have children earlier, you may have difficulty getting a graduate degree, a good first job, and opportunities for advancement in the crucial early years of your career. Making matters worse, you will also have less income while raising your children, and hence less ability to hire the help that can be indispensable to your juggling act. (...)
These considerations are why so many career women of my generation chose to establish themselves in their careers first and have children in their mid-to-late 30s. But that raises the possibility of spending long, stressful years and a small fortune trying to have a baby. (...) And when everything does work out? I had my first child at 38 (and counted myself blessed) and my second at 40. That means I will be 58 when both of my children are out of the house. What’s more, it means that many peak career opportunities are coinciding precisely with their teenage years, when, experienced parents advise, being available as a parent is just as important as in the first years of a child’s life.
Many women of my generation have found themselves, in the prime of their careers, saying no to opportunities they once would have jumped at and hoping those chances come around again later. Many others who have decided to step back for a while, taking on consultant positions or part-time work that lets them spend more time with their children (or aging parents), are worrying about how long they can “stay out” before they lose the competitive edge they worked so hard to acquire.
You should be able to have a family if you want one—however and whenever your life circumstances allow—and still have the career you desire. If more women could strike this balance, more women would reach leadership positions. And if more women were in leadership positions, they could make it easier for more women to stay in the workforce. The rest of this essay details how.

Changing the Culture of Face Time
(...) The culture of “time macho”—a relentless competition to work harder, stay later, pull more all-nighters, travel around the world and bill the extra hours that the international date line affords you—remains astonishingly prevalent among professionals today. (...) But more time in the office does not always mean more “value added”—and it does not always add up to a more successful organization. 
(...) Being able to work from home—in the evening after children are put to bed, or during their sick days or snow days, and at least some of the time on weekends—can be the key, for mothers, to carrying your full load versus letting a team down at crucial moments. State-of-the-art videoconferencing facilities can dramatically reduce the need for long business trips. These technologies are making inroads, and allowing easier integration of work and family life.  (...)
(...) Changes in default office rules should not advantage parents over other workers; indeed, done right, they can improve relations among co-workers by raising their awareness of each other’s circumstances and instilling a sense of fairness. 
Revaluing Family Values
While employers shouldn’t privilege parents over other workers, too often they end up doing the opposite, usually subtly, and usually in ways that make it harder for a primary caregiver to get ahead. Many people in positions of power seem to place a low value on child care in comparison with other outside activities. (...) Consider the following proposition: An employer has two equally talented and productive employees. One trains for and runs marathons when he is not working. The other takes care of two children. What assumptions is the employer likely to make about the marathon runner? That he gets up in the dark every day and logs an hour or two running before even coming into the office, or drives himself to get out there even after a long day. That he is ferociously disciplined and willing to push himself through distraction, exhaustion, and days when nothing seems to go right in the service of a goal far in the distance. That he must manage his time exceptionally well to squeeze all of that in.
Be honest: Do you think the employer makes those same assumptions about the parent?  (...) The discipline, organization, and sheer endurance it takes to succeed at top levels with young children at home is easily comparable to running 20 to 40 miles a week. But that’s rarely how employers see things, not only when making allowances, but when making promotions. (...)
Redefining the Arc of a Successful Career
The American definition of a successful professional is someone who can climb the ladder the furthest in the shortest time, generally peaking between ages 45 and 55. It is a definition well suited to the mid-20th century, an era when people had kids in their 20s, stayed in one job, retired at 67, and were dead, on average, by age 71.
It makes far less sense today. (...)  Women who have children in their late 20s can expect to immerse themselves completely in their careers in their late 40s, with plenty of time still to rise to the top in their late 50s and early 60s. (...) Along the way, women should think about the climb to leadership not in terms of a straight upward slope, but as irregular stair steps, with periodic plateaus (and even dips) when they turn down promotions to remain in a job that works for their family situation; when they leave high-powered jobs and spend a year or two at home on a reduced schedule; or when they step off a conventional professional track to take a consulting position or project-based work for a number of years. I think of these plateaus as “investment intervals.” (...)
Rediscovering the Pursuit of Happiness
One of the most complicated and surprising parts of my journey out of Washington was coming to grips with what I really wanted. I had opportunities to stay on, and I could have tried to work out an arrangement allowing me to spend more time at home. (...) But I realized that I didn’t just need to go home. Deep down, I wanted to go home. I wanted to be able to spend time with my children in the last few years that they are likely to live at home, crucial years for their development into responsible, productive, happy, and caring adults. But also irreplaceable years for me to enjoy the simple pleasures of parenting—baseball games, piano recitals, waffle breakfasts, family trips, and goofy rituals.  (...)
Women have contributed to the fetish of the one-dimensional life, albeit by necessity. The pioneer generation of feminists walled off their personal lives from their professional personas to ensure that they could never be discriminated against for a lack of commitment to their work. When I was a law student in the 1980s, many women who were then climbing the legal hierarchy in New York firms told me that they never admitted to taking time out for a child’s doctor appointment or school performance, but instead invented a much more neutral excuse.
Today, however, women in power can and should change that environment, although change is not easy. When I became dean of the Woodrow Wilson School, in 2002, I decided that one of the advantages of being a woman in power was that I could help change the norms by deliberately talking about my children and my desire to have a balanced life. Thus, I would end faculty meetings at 6 p.m. by saying that I had to go home for dinner; I would also make clear to all student organizations that I would not come to dinner with them, because I needed to be home from six to eight, but that I would often be willing to come back after eight for a meeting. I also once told the Dean’s Advisory Committee that the associate dean would chair the next session so I could go to a parent-teacher conference. (...) 
Seeking out a more balanced life is not a women’s issue; balance would be better for us all. (...)
Innovation Nation
As I write this, I can hear the reaction of some readers to many of the proposals in this essay: It’s all fine and well for a tenured professor to write about flexible working hours, investment intervals, and family-comes-first management. But what about the real world? Most American women cannot demand these things, particularly in a bad economy, and their employers have little incentive to grant them voluntarily. Indeed, the most frequent reaction I get in putting forth these ideas is that when the choice is whether to hire a man who will work whenever and wherever needed, or a woman who needs more flexibility, choosing the man will add more value to the company. (...)
[But] Losing smart and motivated women not only diminishes a company’s talent pool. (...) Experts on creativity and innovation emphasize the value of encouraging nonlinear thinking and cultivating randomness by taking long walks or looking at your environment from unusual angles.  (...) Space for play and imagination is exactly what emerges when rigid work schedules and hierarchies loosen up. (...) Seeing the world anew through a child’s eyes can be a powerful source of stimulation. (...)
The books I’ve read with my children, the silly movies I’ve watched, the games I’ve played, questions I’ve answered, and people I’ve met while parenting have broadened my world. Another axiom of the literature on innovation is that the more often people with different perspectives come together, the more likely creative ideas are to emerge. Giving workers the ability to integrate their non-work lives with their work—whether they spend that time mothering or marathoning—will open the door to a much wider range of influences and ideas.
Enlisting Men
Perhaps the most encouraging news of all for achieving the sorts of changes that I have proposed is that men are joining the cause. (...) These young men have not yet faced the question of whether they are prepared to give up that more prestigious clerkship or fellowship, decline a promotion, or delay their professional goals to spend more time with their children and to support their partner’s career.
Yet once work practices and work culture begin to evolve, those changes are likely to carry their own momentum. (...)
Going forward, women would do well to frame work-family balance in terms of the broader social and economic issues that affect both women and men. After all, we have a new generation of young men who have been raised by full-time working mothers. Let us presume, as I do with my sons, that they will understand “supporting their families” to mean more than earning money. (...)

I would never return to the world of segregated sexes and rampant discrimination. But now is the time to revisit the assumption that women must rush to adapt to the “man’s world” that our mothers and mentors warned us about. (...)  If women are ever to achieve real equality as leaders, then we have to stop accepting male behavior and male choices as the default and the ideal. We must insist on changing social policies and bending career tracks to accommodate our choices, too. We have the power to do it if we decide to, and we have many men standing beside us. (...)"

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excelente post, tantas vezes penso neste tema. T.

12:35 PM  
Blogger Maria do Mundo said...

Muito bom!
Trabalho numa profissão que requer muito de mim em termos intelectuais e, ao fim de algum tempo percebi que não poderia ser excelente profissional e muito boa mãe e esposa! Pus a família em primeiro lugar. Sou uma profissional mediana!E com orgulho nisso!

2:34 PM  
Blogger Mafaldix said...

Temos de ter a oportunidade de deicidir que tipo de mulheress/mães/profissionais queremos ser. Eu não me imagino a ficar em casa sem trabalhar, mas a minha família vem antes da minha vida profissional e é a minha prioridade. E se em Portugal houvesse uma lógica de part-time óu de horário corrido sem pausa (8-16) era o meu ideal!

3:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

E isto não tem que se aplicar necessariamente só às mulheres, certo?
e já agora porque é que um excelente profissional é aquele que está 10 horas ou mais no escritório?
Acredito verdadeiramente que se pode ser um excelente profissional trabalhando 7 horas por dia. Se for preciso mais de 8 horas diárias para se ser o tal excelente profissional algo deve estar mal na gestão da empresa ou na gestão do trabalho.

3:17 PM  
Blogger Fashion Faux Pas said...

Quando o meu filho nasceu decidi que não voltaria a trabalhar a tempo inteiro, para poder acompanha-lo e estar presente para ele. Cada mulher sabe de si, mas muitas mulheres têm a incapacidade de aceitar que haverá mulheres que são mais felizes, mais realizadas, mais serenas e competentes a cuidar dos filhos e do lar do que a lutar por uma carreira profissional. Não somos todas assim, claro que não, mas eu por exemplo sou e ando farta de ser criticada e achincalhada por isso. Não, não sou uma tolinha que não consegue dar um passo sem um marido nem se consegue sustentar a si própria - tenho anos de experiência profissional a provar o contrário - mas sim, sou muito melhor mãe, esposa, mulher do que sou como profissional do mercado labora - até porque não há profissão que me preencha como o cuidar do lar e dos meus me preenche. Infelizmente as politicas deste governo estão a tornar insustentavel a minha opção de vida, apesar de estar desempregada há mais de um ano não vejo perspectivas de arranjar trabalho nenhum.

10:48 AM  

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