M&Ms, Day Care….It’s All The Same,Right?

Go read Kelly’s post and chime in.

ETA: Also, if you enjoy approaching these kinds of issues from several angles, go read what Emma has to say about the same situation from the perspective of a working woman who does not have or want children.

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14 responses to “M&Ms, Day Care….It’s All The Same,Right?

  1. My sister pointed out that this issue seems to resonate more with woman than with men, and I had a thought about why. On-site daycare facilitates nursing, lets parents work longer hours and be more competitive, and helps parents achieve some semblance of a work-life balance. In general, these are not issues faced by someone who has a partner who will agree to put their career on hold (or, in the tech world, give up their career outright); these are mothers’ issues.

    Fucking Google, man. *shakes fist*

  2. I didn’t know where to find you, so I’m hitting your top post today.

    My name is Megan and I write a blog called Velveteen Mind, which you probably have never heard of, but I swear I’m not spam… would you email me, please? Wanted to comment on something privately.

    And good Lord does this sound spammy. I swear I’m not spam.

  3. Kelly: I mentioned that same point in an offshoot discussion. I know the article spoke of parents, and to be safe, we should all say “parents”, but this issue really impacts working moms. Having affordable, on site day care should in theory at least, reduce some of the obstacles for motherss to get ahead professionally. Men rarely give any of this more than a passing thought.

    Megan: You have mail.

  4. For some reason I can’t login to comment on the second (Emma’s) link so I’ll unload here.

    If you take that argument to its completion then why should we as a society offer public education at all? Shouldn’t it be pay as you go? The thing is that women are held back in the work force because of issues of child care and for the most part men are not. Women (especially of a certain age) are often overlooked for promotion and pay raises because it is assumed they will have children and thus either leave their position or will not put in the time of their male counterparts. To me if this were not the case I would be supportive of the benefits equity you all are discussing. And btw, both Sweden and Denmark rank top in the world for gender equity issues and I think this issue along with supported maternity leave are crucial in this. They may pay more taxes but they sure as hell seem to be a lot happier than most Americans.

  5. MT: I wondered that as well. And I believe that is sort of how the issue is addressed in Sweden–more along the lines of extended public education. And of course, they have more flexible parental leave time, too.

    I’m not in close contact these days with friends in Sweden, but having spent some time there, and in talking about related issues, I would agree that their overall quality of life seems higher. They do have other issues, of course. And Swedish mothers, while much better off in terms of gender equality, do tend to not have the same career success as men. ( They tend to work part-time, which probably largely explains the gap.)

    I think I may go track down a childless Swedish friend and ask her how these issues play out there between mothers and women who opt to not have children. I’m curious if the divide of opinion is similar, or if Swedes generally accept this as simply part of their system. (Which of course also includes more reasonable vacation time, health care, and so on.)

  6. PS I’d also be concerned about Google’s business model if the only way to offer quality in-house childcare to employees is to subsidize it to the tune of $37K.

    I’m sorry Karrie I’ll stop commenting now but it just pisses me off. This to me is one of the biggest issues today for women since you can find statistic after statistic of pay inequality across the board in all professions and it is rooted to me in our attitudes towards childcare and maternity leave.

  7. Sorry I was commenting before I read your comment above 🙂

  8. MT: No need to stop commenting. I think everyone involved enjoys a good discussion.

    I forgot that you need a log in to comment on Emma’s blog. I did let her know I was linking, so hopefully she’ll stop by.

    I also sent a message to a friend in Sweden, so hopefully she’ll stop by too and let us know if these tensions exist there as well.

  9. I think Emma’s response is somewhat typical of those without kids. I know that, as a feminist, my view of issues changed significantly after I became a mother, and a working mother to boot. The main crux of the article, for me, is that Google basically has daycare only for the wealthy, and that (as you and Mamatried point out) this is an issue that most affects women, particularly mothers of small children who have to work.

    It kind of reminds me, I had a boss whom I liked and respected. She was an older woman without kids, in general very supportive of women’s rights but downright hostile about maternity leave to the point that her staff generally quit after they got pregnant. She felt that it was unfair for women to get maternity leave (which was, frankly, just a guarantee that you’d still have a job in three months, not paid time off) when it was just a benefit for non-breeders.

    Later, the union we worked for decided to renegotiate benefits, and it was put to a vote: we could either continue to have free health care but the retirement age would go up by 10 years, or we could spend $20 a month and the retirement age would stay the same. The younger staff, who held the majority and who had no plans to retire from that job, voted for the free health care.

    I had the good graces NOT to point out the similarities.

  10. Google bolluxed this one. No doubt. But it has far less to do with gender and sexism than it does with class. The took a good on-site daycare that nearly all of its employees could use (thus creating a massive waiting list) and turned it into an elitist pet project of some vice president. Before they knew it, they were 37k in the hole per kid per year. That is batshit crazy. And rather than admit to a mistake, they have decided to dump the subsidy leaving the Google parents to make up the difference. What Google should have done was scale back costs and kept its daycare affordable for its employees. Perhaps if they had a fuller appreciation of just how critical good day care is for families they would not have been so careless.

  11. From reading the article it sounds like Google went over the top from affordable onsite daycare to something really unsustainable. I think that a cutback within the daycare might have been a better option.

    If my kids were in a daycare that suddenly went up by 37K, I would have to quit. That is our yearly house payment on a house in the Boston Metro area. There is no way even with a 6 figure income that our family could absorb that.

    It’s embarassing now to some extent but at every stage of my life, I have held some really opinionated feelings about how people other than ME lived. A guy I really liked at work would take off when his SAHM wife was really sick because they had 3 small boys. Like the guys at work, I thought he was under his wife’s thumb. Now I know that he was a caring husband – I could be dead and my dh would ask me to have dinner ready that night. 😉

    I see this issue from the perspective of childless employees as much the same. It’s the “breeders” choice to have kids is their general refrain but it’s also the childless employees choice not to. There are benefits to either side of the coin and it seems silly to start trying to mitigate all of them to make things fair. The benefits to parents specifically are often short term in nature.

  12. Isn’t that the truth? I remember thinking how people with picky eaters must just really spoil/cater to/baby their children and then I ended up with a child that rejects most everything (including ice cream!).

    I also would argue that if you can keep a woman working because she is able to find affordable, on sight day care then she will pay more taxes thus potentially lowering the tax burden for singles (for example the GI Bill has paid for itself 10X over because of increased revenue to the federal government through taxation)…just one more idea.

  13. Martina the Childless Swede

    Hi!

    I was asked by Karrie to contribute to this discussion. I don’t think that childless Swedes generally are critical of the state subvention of daycare etc. However there is a debate around the so called cafe latte-moms that refuse to move out to the suburbs of Stockholm and hang around with their screaming children in the coffe shops of central Stockholm. There is some kind of baby boom in Stockholm right now. I don’t live there myself but in a village outside a small town up in the far north of Sweden.

    My personal opinion is that childbearing, breastfeeding and having children have become some kind of ideology in Sweden, you are seen as very strange if you choose not to have children, as they are seen as the meaning of life for everyone.

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