Tuesday, April 27, 2010

More On Court Appointed Mom

Kate Harding has a long response to Peter Beinart's call for a mom on the Court. Hers is a considerably more in-depth response than mine, she points out many of the flaws of Beinart's piece (which I too found really annoying), and it's a very good read. Here's Harding's kicker:

"Look, I'm all for seeing more mothers in positions of power, and I think Diane Wood would be a fine choice for the Supreme Court. But the problem here is not a lack of role models. It's an overwhelming lack of support for working mothers and respect for female ambition. And the idea that the success of childless women is somehow sending the wrong message to little girls -- who are still, after all, growing up in a society where 80 percent of women eventually have children (and among the other 20 percent are women who were infertile, who were prevented from adopting for one reason or another, who never found the right partner and weren't up to the challenge of single motherhood, etc., not just women who chose to be childfree, as Beinart claims) -- is absurd. In fact, it's sending a very honest message: That the expectations placed on mothers and on highly ambitious professionals are both so demanding that it is actually incredibly difficult for women to "have it all." A job and a kid, sure, that's possible. But kids and a Supreme Court appointment? Well, two women have already pulled it off against all odds, but the odds still suck. Seeing Wood on the court would not change that."


Carolyn said...

This is exactly where ur roadmap comment hits. Even if it were to happen, it doesn't change all the obstacles that make it a long shot in the first place. On a different level, at my completely unglorified tier (?) of the academic ladder I have very few mother role models, and the ones that exist - there is just no way to replicate what they did or even the circumstances they did it under. And what I am doing, with the flexible nature of my job - that I can make my own albeit crazy and probably life shortening hours, I am a case study of my own. Whatever works, and it's just the (lucky, suuuuuure) nature of the job. It would be amazing to see part time work valued more especially considering that people who love their jobs usually work >100% anyway! I vascillate btw being annoyed by being told/lamenting that women with family obligations can't get as much done and feeling like we *should* be superstars bc how else are we going to prove we deserve what we've earned. ugh. The most ironic part is that here the work ethic is so much more relaxed that I am currently considered a work horse while privately wondering/worrying about how slow the pace can be. I spend minimum 6 hours of time with my kids a day and I am practically an absentee mother ;) of course women only began to vote in the last 30 years...ramble ramble.

Robin Aronson said...

I think so....it's not that the lack of women in powerful positions doesn't tell us something. It does. It says how hard it is. But I think as you and Harding say, it's really hard and what one person does isn't exactly replicable. It's unfortunate that Beinart's post putting the mom on the court thing out there was so poor.

And, um, really? 6 hrs a day with your kids? During the week? And husband in school? That's amazing.

Carolyn said...

Hey, call it mommy guilt. The reason I'm at work right now...at least my commute is 3 min by bike and you really can't beat that! When kindergarten starts will be a whole new story; but that's just the (ever changing nature of) the thing.

Robin Aronson said...

Wow thank goodness for the three min commute! Of course the question Beinart could ask would be what's the critical mass of women with kids in positions of power that would effect systemic change? and where does that start. Since Elliot's hanging on my back now I can't really engage...the whole kids-balance thing takes on a whole other meaning when kids hang on you!