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13 posts from September 2008

September 04, 2008

Don't bring babies to work

      By now, most of you know that Sarah Palin, candidate for vice president, went back to work four days after giving birth. Yet, Palin, Governor of Alaska, supposedly set up a crib for baby Trig in her office. If you could bring your baby to work, would you do it or do you think babies and workplaces don't mix?

      WorkItMom.com posed the question and I agree with blogger Robyn Roark's response:  "I understand the need to have flexible options for working parents. I believe that the image of corporate America should include on-site childcare, a family-friendly culture, an understanding manager, a flexible work force, and better benefits. But is bringing your baby to work the answer? I don’t think so."

     I really think it depends on your workplace, the age of the baby and whether your baby will be supervised. Bringing a baby to the office may work well in small companies where the culture is more informal. But most of the time, co-workers are annoyed when a baby cries or babbles while they are trying to talk shop with a customer.

      I think it's much easier -- and more professional -- to work from home with baby. Fortunately, some workplaces are seeing the benefit in allowing that arrangement and more moms are negotiating for it.

       If Sarah Palin pulls off bringing her baby to work in the White House, I'll be thoroughly impressed. Maybe she'll even pave the way for it to become more accepted. But can you imagine how foreign heads of states would respond should baby Trig shriek during a call on international trade policy. It all boils down to this question: should babies be allowed in the workplace? And, should dads be able to bring them, too?

September 03, 2008

At-home moms return to the workforce

      The recession is pushing at-home moms back into the workforce. Their timing is lousy.

     Challenger, Gray & Christmas reports the summer of 2008 saw the highest number of job-cut announcements since 2002. Employers now have announced 667,996 job cuts, year to date.

     So what's a mother to do? How does she compete against downsized workers with up-to-date skills?  Should she answer questions about the gap in her resume? I asked a few experts for their advice.

      * Wow them with an amazing cover letter, says Career Coach Debra Brown-Volkman. She says the letter should include:  I am writing to you today because... I like your company because... Here are relevant examples of what I have done that match with what you are looking for...Here's why I am a good candidate... Here's my contact information...

      * Use the mom network, says Nancy Collamer of JobsandMoms.com. "Moms are master networkers when it comes to their children. If they need to find a reading specialist for their child they could take care of it in five minutes or less. Apply the same networking savvy to yourself.

      *  Do research on what positions in your industry are paying in your region, says Ilyse Shapiro founder of  My PartTimePro.com. "Don't look at what you made 10 years ago and don't be afraid to apply for high paying jobs. You don't want to sell yourself short.

    Some at-home moms who are going through the interview process, they told me they are frustrated by the questions they are asked about gaps in their resume, their lack of tech skills or the hours they are willing to put in. I think these are fair questions, do you? Do you think a man who took time off would be asked the same questions?


September 02, 2008

Sarah Palin took on too much

   For working mothers like me, who strive every day to prove we can juggle it all, Sarah Palin makes us nervous. It's Mommy Wars on a whole new level.

     I worry that how Palin does in this race, or how she does in the White House, will reflect on the overall ability of working mothers. Personally, I like the woman. I saw her on television and found her appealing and her story compelling -- a hockey mom who's making a difference in government. She's just the kind of woman I would write about and hold out as a mom who does it all. She could do a lot for family policies in this country.

  But even while I impressed with her, I worry that the latest news that Palin's 17-year-old daughter is pregnant means superwoman was just too busy with politics to influence what was going on in her home. The New York Times today says Palin has set off a fierce argument among women about whether there are enough hours in the day for her to be a mother and take on the vice presidency and whether she is right to try. Is she right to try?

   I think there's a limit to how demanding a job a mother with such intense family obligations should tackle.  Don't think I'm naive.  I know a male candidate would never be subject to similar scrutiny. 

    I can't say for certain that Palin's daughter would have avoided the pregnancy if Palin was a stay-at-home mother. But I'm convinced Palin is taking on too much. Even before I learned her daughter was pregnant, I wondered how this woman could raise five kids,  be a significant part of their lives, and pursue the vice presidency. It's a lot to handle, especially when her youngest is a newborn with Down Syndrome. Her husband works full time as a commercial fisherman and an oil field production manager and he makes time to squeeze in training for his hobby, snowmobiling. Who is supervising homework?

       As a woman, I'm grateful for what Palin has accomplished. She has broken the glass ceiling by becoming part of the Republican ticket. Going forward, I'm confident she will accomplish a great deal either as governor or vice president. But I'm willing to bet money that those accomplishments come with a price tag.  They always do. I say the kids will pay the price. I hope I'm wrong.

    What do you think about the latest news that Palin's 17-year-old daughter is pregnant? Will this add fuel to the debate on working mothers?