Mama Bee: Getting Honest About Part-time Work

Thanks to The Mama Bee for her thoughtful blog post, Getting Honest About Part-time Work. Drawing on my USA Today column yesterday, TMB makes the case that work time is me-time if you love your job, that putting serious effort into your career often advances you to the point of having more clout and control of your time, and that working part-time involves serious financial trade-offs. I’m glad to help get these discussions going!

I’ve also been fascinated by some of the discussions going on elsewhere with people claiming that my figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics must be wrong. Usually the commenter says “This can’t be right because I spend tons of time with my kids…” But of course the thing about broad studies is that one person’s experience does not make an average wrong. Sure, plenty of part-timers spend tons of time with their families. But others don’t. I’m also sure there are some part-timers making six figures a year. But this doesn’t mean the average woman would.

One thought on “Mama Bee: Getting Honest About Part-time Work

  1. Laura, you hit the nail on the head here. The large number of commenters who say that their lives have been enhanced by part-time work aren’t wrong — not by a long shot. They have made a decision based on their values and economics, and if it works, that is a wonderful thing. But they are not “average.”

    What I take issue with is the idea that part-time work would improve the lives of all — or even most — women. Those who have commented on your USA Today article and my blog represent a small, educated, resourced group. Their experience is not likely to reflect that of vast numbers of women for whom part-time work has more serious financial and career consequences.

    We need to recognize these downsides and think about how we can change the workplace to a) keep more women working full-time, but flexibly; and b) rectify the disproportionate penalty many women will face if they do consider a part-time option. This is not “mommy-wars” as some have suggested, it’s just facing the truth so that we can find tenable solutions for both women and business.


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