Next, let's take a look at the broader problem, as Lawrence Summers described it, "beyond science and engineering."
He said he had discussed,
- "questions like this with chief executive officers at major corporations, the managing partners of large law firms, the directors of prominent teaching hospitals, and with the leaders of other prominent professional service organizations, as well as with colleagues in higher education."
Wow! And guess what?! They ALL found the same problem! Surprise, surprise! What IS the problem here? Summers said,
- About 20 to 25 years ago, the share of women in graduate schools increased substantially.
- Today, we are NOT seeing them in leadership positions in proportion to their earlier numbers.
- And, those that DID make it into leadership positions are "disproportionately either unmarried or without children."
So, what is the solution to the under-representation of women at leadership levels?
Is it "Leave the Child Behind?" Not likely. Is it, instead, "Pass family-friendly laws?" Historically, passing gender equity laws has reaped a quick and furious backlash which tossed out the same mandates at the very next change in administration. Perhaps it might be, "Put in those high-powered, intense work hours, there, girls! Tote that barge! Lift that bale!"
Maybe it's something else. Maybe we should start looking at the "Pay to Play" idea that men continually espouse everywhere. As in, "You want children? You gotta do a better job at playing Daddy, boys!"
In a recent LA Times article, Margaret Carlson cites one Census statistic that men have invested a whopping "one additional hour" of work a week to help out at home. Just enough to give the impression, without the substance, that they're trying to help. Who are we kidding here?
Perhaps we should look more carefully at this "learned helplessness" talent that too many (not all!) Daddies pick up - from kibbutzim to Kansas City. It looks as if some women recognize that too many men have stayed in the Dark Ages of parenthood, while women have moved out of the cave. Women have evolved to meet contemporary societal and parental demands. Too many men simply have not evolved.
We even encourage them. Count the number of commercials you've seen in the past several months where She is vacuuming the house, tending the child, cleaning the kitchen, while he - in his Hanes His Way or with the Hoover switched to Silent Mode or with the Pampers Baby breezing by him - is sound asleep, snoring on the couch. Aw, isn't that cute?
- "Get up and help out, Macho Man!"
Oh, but you get more with honey than .....
I think I'm going to be sick.
When you talk with men, they nod knowingly and admittedly about their "learned helplessness" --- if they fake ignorance of a task at home long enough, they know the woman of the house ultimately will say in disgust, "Oh, just let me do it!" while he walks away to the couch, hiding a smirk.
The more genuine men will at least argue rightfully that "She doesn't let ME do it MY way. So, I let HER do it HER way, all by herself."
And women are doing the same think with reverse roles in the work place. "He doesn't let ME do it MY way. So, I let HIM do it HIS way, all by himself."
Come ON, people. Where's the adult in this conversation? Where's the emotional intelligence? Where's the emotional maturity?
Try to think of this as "first contact" with an alien species. You both have to survive on this planet together, so start coming up with the hand signs that show some peaceful and purposeful indications.
Especially in the home, where it takes two to tango and at least two, equally present, adults, today, to help this child emerge as an intelligent, caring member of society.
But, damnit, this also applies in those major corporations, those large law firms, and the other professional firms, those teaching hospitals and medical centers, those prominent professional and charitable and religious service organizations, and - yes - in all our educational and communications insitutions. We've got to stop pretending that everything is honkey-dorey there, when we all know that the top tier sucks - for men AND for women.
How come you have to hunt to find 50 "family-friendly" firms among the top 1000 firms in the nation where the employees consider them "great places to work". What about the other 21,999,950 major firms in the country? Are they just as bad as the top 1000?
If women were smart enough to make it into the majority ranks of higher educations, graduate programs, law and medical schools and other qualifying platforms for leadership, then they are ready, willing and able to walk through the front doors of our public and private companies and organizations. Maybe those firms are just not that great places for ANYONE to work anymore -- after all is said and done - not for men and certainly not for women and so probably not for families, either.
Maybe THAT's the discussion we should be holding with Summers' top tier colleagues.