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Our Glass Ovaries

On January 21, 2014, in Discrimination, Employment Law, Heather Bussing, HRExaminer, by Heather Bussing

If women want to run companies, we need to start our own.Remington first day

If women are tired of being discriminated against, we need to stop working for companies and people that discriminate.

If we don’t want to be harassed, we can’t work for harassers.

If we are sick of making less money, we need to ask for raises. And if the money doesn’t come, we need to work somewhere we are paid what we’re worth.

I know. You’re thinking: I can’t. I have bills to pay and kids to feed.

But what are the alternatives?

We could fight for women’s rights and pass more laws. So far, we have all kinds of laws that make very little difference because laws do not change attitudes.

We could work diligently and prove to men that we are just as smart, capable, tough, and creative. We’ve been doing that for quite awhile now too (forever). There are some great women leaders who have sacrificed family, time, and sanity to prove that women are worthy. I am grateful. But it still hasn’t significantly changed the way businesses run, or increased the number of women leaders.

And there’s one big reason. Actually, two small ones: ovaries.

No matter what the laws, business opportunities, rhetoric, fairness, or hopes, women have to choose between babies and work.

I graduated from law school almost 30 years ago, and did not have children until I was well established in my career. The women who came before me mostly chose not to have children. For the past 50 years, we have tried to figure out how to work like men, run a house, develop new skills, get groceries, pick up dry-cleaning, and be a mommy. We are still overworked, underpaid, and exhausted.

Is it getting better? Sure.

But the answer is not to outman the men. We have to quit trying to beat them at their own game, and stop trying to succeed in systems that don’t really work for anyone, including most of the men.

Instead, we need to redesign work so it actually works for the way we live our lives.

The societal structures are in place. Attitudes are changing. We have the technology. But we can’t wait around for promotions or permission. We have to figure out what works for us, and then do it. We have to make choices that work for our personal circumstances and quit thinking it’s not good enough.

Mostly, we need to stop judging each other, and support the choices other women make in their lives, families, and careers.

There are many ways to do this right. It’s your life. What works for you?

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