An article in the New York Times today examined, and not very critically or very well, certain life expectations of female students at Ivy League colleges. The young women quoted in this article intend to put parenting (i.e., mommying) above their career goals. A choice to parent instead of pursuing a career full speed ahead is perfectly legitimate. However, apart from the seemingly innocent and insular "individual choices, this article disturbed us to our very core. In chief, we raise two critiques.
(1) We are disturbed about the institutional impacts of rich women taking up spots in elite institutions because they have the option and privilege to do so but will not make full use of their degrees. When education is as competitve and expensive as it is now, why not leave the class spots open for people who will use their degree? This is especially concerning to us because so many of the students quoted in this article plan to become lawyers. In our opinion the legal profession needs more public servants and more students from underrepresented backgrounds. Another related issue is that when many women express these preferences it adds credibility to assumptions that all women will eventually choose the "mommy track." This is damaging to women in the law and other professions. I'm not arguing that everything will change if women just realign their preferences with equally disturbing second-wave feminist viewpoints but until people start demanding more gender equity, nothing in the workplace is going to begin to change.
(2) The viewpoints in this article implicitly assume that all women have the choice to stay at home with their children. While maybe some of these Yalies from the burbs can rely on their daddies to pay for their whole education, college and law school, and then rely on their husbands to foot their bills, not all women find themselves in their Manolo Blahniks. From comments like these, "My mother's always told me you can't be the best career woman and the best mother at the same time," Ms. Liu said matter-of-factly. "You always have to choose one over the other," the judgment that is very clearly being made is that women who have to be both a career woman and a mother cannot possibly be good mothers, or good career women. The disturbing part about all of this is not that women who choose to stay home are making a politically incorrect choice. What bothers us is the lack of recognition that is is a very privileged choice. And this article presented women who showed an almost total lack of understanding of this fact. Making matter-of-fact statements that it is impossible and unrealisitc to expect to be a good mother and a career woman screams at low-income and single mothers "Hey! No matter how hard you work, you won't ever be as good at being a mother as we are because we can afford it!" The fact of the matter is that it's not realism telling women they can't do both well: It's women like Ms. Liu and the others quoted in this article spouting the short-sighted and self-aggrandizing career or mother dichotomy.To close with the words of Rortina, "Q.E.D. MF."
For the whole article check this out.