October 2, 2008
Forget the symbolism of having a working mother of five on the VP ballot -- show me the work/life balance policies
I wanted to avoid writing about Sarah "How Does She Juggle It All?" Palin and what her candidacy might mean for working women. This isn't a political blog; it's a career blog. And entire oceans of ink have been spilled on Palin's work/family balancing act already.
But in honor of tonight's the VP debate, I've decided to break my silence. Besides, yesterday's Associated Press article "Some moms are asking: Would Palin help us as VP?" brought up some points too juicy not to share.
No matter what you think of her religion, politics, or evening news interviews, it's impossible to ignore the symbolism of having on the VP ticket a working mom with her domestic plate piled sky high. But so much media coverage of What Palin's Candidacy Means For Women misses the point.
"How dare she take such a demanding job when she has a special needs infant?" obviously isn't constructive; this isn't the business of anyone but the Palin family. But assuming that Palin's rockstar-like political rise (despite her ultra-challenging family life) is undoubtedly good news for all working moms is equally naïve.
Palin has a stay-at-home husband, a job that let her bring her infant to work, the ability to breastfeed at work, flexible work hours, and a support staff she could delegate to. Do you?
From the AP article:
"Look at what she had: preset pay, health care, paid sick days, a salary high enough so her husband could help care for the baby," says [Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, cofounder of online political action group MomsRising]. "Unfortunately that is not the case for most working mothers."
I'm glad the AP published this article. It's important to remember that the workplace perks of pols only trickle down to us little folks when they -- and the employers we work for -- enact policies that actually grant us those perks. (Do you have the same health coverage as McCain or Obama? I certainly don't.)
According to Fast Company, for the first time in a presidential election, "both presidential candidates have made work/life flexibility part of their official economic platforms."
I'll be watching the debate tonight to hear more about this -- and to see what concrete, detailed promises the hopeful veeps have for working stiffs who need a bit more balance in their lives.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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