Monday, October 03, 2005

What are you majoring at Yale? I am getting my MRS

Mom sent me another article on more Yale women throwing in the career towel. She ended it with "Just give the word and you can have this life."

Ivy League could become Wifey League

Who says you can't have a career and be a good mom? For most of history, men did. Now, Ivy League coeds are saying it for them.
Some of the most brilliant women at the most brilliant colleges are declaring that they will end, or at least curtail, their careers once they have children. So says an article that ran on the front page of yesterday's New York Times.

"My mother always told me you can't be the best career woman and the best mother at the same time," said one Yale sophomore, declaring she expects to be a stay-at-home mom by the time she is 30.

Leaving aside the fact that life is chock-full of potholes, even for Ivy League grads, what's incredible about this attitude is how demeaning it is - to women.

I speak not just as a mom who works. I speak as a woman who went to Yale just a few years after the first women were admitted. How we laughed at the reason we had been excluded for so long. Yale's mission was to educate a thousand leaders every year, the old rationale went. But if it started admitting women, it couldn't do that because women would never be leaders.

How ridiculous, we women snorted. Of course we would lead, right alongside our male counterparts.

But now it seems that many of the young ladies bright enough to get to Yale are proving the old guard right: Some of them will lead, yes, but about 60% of them hope to be home with the kids.

Not that that's not an important job. Before you fire off that biting E-mail, let me state that motherhood IS hugely important. My kids trump my career, for sure.

But the idea that to do right by them I should bid goodbye to the working world? I haven't seen any proof. I challenge you to sit in a room with 20 children and tell me which ones stayed home with grandma, which ones went to day care and which ones had mom at home full time. Kids go with the flow. Neither working nor stay-at-home motherhood has a lock on perfection.

What most stay-at-home moms do have a lock on is this: wealthy husbands. So, whether the bright young things aiming for uninterrupted motherhood admit it or not, they are aiming for a good catch, too, a la 1952. I suspect they did not put this on their Why I Want to Go to Yale applications.

Of course, 10 or 20 years after they've been at home and are ready to reenter the job market, they may be shocked to learn that a yellowing diploma does not open doors, no matter how smart its owner.

On that day, summoning all their education, leadership and credentials, these mild-mannered moms may just take up where their feminist foremothers left off: Leading a revolution, this time on behalf of returning women stonewalled by the working world.

And, as with the any great revolution, this will be better late than never.

I think what she says makes sense. I mean think about it. It is like going clubbing. Once you get your groove on you get to know everyone and are able to get past the doorman and be able to get free drinks through some mild flirting. You leave the scene for awhile and then come back, you are not going to be able to get in because you don't know the doormen or the bartenders. It's common sense. Just because you have a Yale degree doesn't mean the world will open its doors for you. Women shouldn't confuse it for a lottery ticket.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

PP, I am so pleased. This was a great column! You really gave an issue some thought, quoted a source (watch out for copyright infringement, though - probably better to just link rather than quote so much), and gave an opinion at the end that made it clear you spent some time thinking about the issue. Kudos.

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