Thursday, July 16, 2009

Work-Life Balance

Balancing home life and work life seems particularly tough for women because the expectations placed on us are different from men. I've often wondered if men spent time at their desks looking at their family pictures and wondering what the kids were doing now, or how much the baby would change by the time they got home. I think a lot of men do, in fact, worry about such things, but that society at large has made it easier for men to justify not being home.

For women, particularly well-educated women, it's a tighter rope to balance. We excuse women in poverty for not being home with their kids, since the money is necessary to sustain the family. But, it seems like, once you reach middle income, and, particularly, upper incomes, women receive less support for the myriad decisions they must reach on a daily basis. To work or not to work? What kind of work? Part-time or full-time? Contract? Freelance? The decisions seem endless and daunting, and no matter which path you choose, there will be those who disagree (sometimes strongly) with the path you chose.

I thought about all this while reading this post on Jack Welch's statement, "There is no work-life balance, only work-life choices." The statement is blunt and harsh and angers many women, who feel torn between the halves of their lives, but I think there's a lot of truth to it. Do we want companies to be more accommodating to employees' needs? Sure, but the company isn't in place to accommodate your family; that's something you have to do. And maybe that's where looking for the right fit is better than trying to force a fit.