Thursday, February 28, 2013

Women on top

As a corollary of my post yesterday on women in Westminster, Penelope Trunk has an interesting (if rather depressing) post on the official death of telecommuting at Yahoo.
People telecommute so they can decrease the conflict between work and personal life. Brigham Young University shows that people can work sixty hours a week as a telecommuter and still maintain low conflict in this area because of the flexibility that telecommuting enables. 
Mayer doesn’t want to work with anyone who is working sixty hours a week. She is in Silicon Valley where an 80-hour week is full-time and 50-hours is part-time. In fact, women who have taken the mommy track at big law firms have been saying for a decade that at top firms, 50 hours is a part-time week. 
You can draw two conclusions from this, one cheering and the other less so. The first is that the gender wars are pretty much over:
Women graduate college at a higher rate than men and women earn more money than men. Until there are kids. 
But the second is that once there are kids, you have a choice. You can get to the top of your profession. Or you can see your kids grow up. When I joined a Magic Circle law firm (all those years ago) I looked at the partnership and saw that most partners had two things in common: their wives stayed at home; and they weren't their first wives. Getting to the top means sacrificing pretty much everything in your life except your job (whether that's corporate law or international cricket). For whatever cultural or biological reason, women are currently much less prepared to accept this sacrifice.


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