Were you told to suppress your high ambitions?

by Grace aka costofcollege

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and one of the most successful women in the field of technology, has urged women to “lean in” to achieve ambitious career goals.  She wants us to break down barriers, both external and internal, so that more women will be represented in leadership positions of business and government.

A truly equal world would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes.

I was struck by Sandberg’s own struggle with self doubt.

My entire life I have been told, you know, or I have felt that I should hold back on being too successful, too smart, too, you know, lots of things.

She grew up in an affluent household, the daughter of a doctor and a college teacher.  Presumably she enjoyed many advantages and abundant encouragement from that upbringing, yet she remembers being told to tamp down her ambitions.

I am a bit older than Sandberg and grew up in different circumstances, lacking the advantages of her upper-class upbringing.  Yet I don’t remember being told to hold back on my accomplishments.  Sure, there were times when I was discouraged from pursuing lofty ambitions, but it seems those were the exceptions.  It’s a bit puzzling why Sandberg felt so constrained and I did not.  Was I just oblivious to the negative messages all around me?

Have you or the women you know been told to hold back on being too successful?  Do you think you may be sending that message to your daughters or other young women?  Does society send that message?  If so, why do some women seem to ignore this negative directive?

Should we be encouraging women to lean in to create a society where they run half our countries and companies while men run half our homes?

Sadly, Sandberg’s husband died unexpectedly earlier this month, leaving her a widow with two young children.  She has returned to work on a modified schedule.  She “will not be doing any traveling for the time being and will adopt a slightly modified schedule that fits with when her children are at school”.

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287 thoughts on “Were you told to suppress your high ambitions?

  1. CofC,

    Presumably she enjoyed many advantages and abundant encouragement from that upbringing, yet she remembers being told to tamp down her ambitions.

    Sandberg was born in 1969, in Washington, D.C. Her family moved to North Miami Beach when she was two. Her mother, Adele, gave up studying for a Ph.D. and teaching college French in order to raise Sheryl and her two younger siblings, David and Michelle. Her father, Joel, is an ophthalmologist.

    If her mother had it in mind that Sheryl should aspire to be an affluent North Miami Beach doctor’s wife/SAHM then it certainly fits that she would have warned her about trying too hard at anything other than her looks, if she wanted to land a rich husband.

  2. Oh hell yes. My mother frequently told me not to try for big goals because “she couldn’t bear to see me disappointed.” Monster.

  3. I was not told to suppress my ambitions, but then again, I wasn’t encouraged to have ambition, either. My parents provided no guidance in how to think about my career or family.

  4. I think in an ideal world men and women would be able to split home and work about 50/50 each. The problem is that many Totebag type careers are not conducive to 2 people working 30 or even 40 hours a week each. There’s sort of a multiplier effect and one person makes 4 times as much working 65 hours a week as he or she would doing 40 hours per week. This ends up strongly encouraging one parent to scale their career way back when kids come along.

    Now, if you pick your field more carefully and choose something that is conducive to part time work or at least more family friendly hours, it’s a different story. But limiting yourself in that way at college age is pretty much the opposite of what “Lean In” encourages.

  5. I was told I could be what ever I wanted to be. except a rock star or make a living singing or playing saxophone :)

    I agree it would be ideal for both parents to scale back at work to help at home. Doesn’t seem to happen for many reasons.

  6. Interesting. Growing up in the 60s with 4 older sisters, they were always getting the encouragement to push themselves to achieve the highest levels of success. Much of this came from my mother, who was smart, but as a young woman 80 years ago (she’d be in her mid-90s now), her desire to become a doctor or engineer was tamped down. (Instead she went on to become a college professor.)

    My sisters had different views. One sister (still married) had three kids by age 21. Even more of them later. Two others went on the marriage track. Sororities and meeting and marrying frat guys. The last one, well, she’s the smartest of all, but is hopeless. None of them did a damn thing career-wise. Eventually, all of them went back to school. All have had rewarding, lucrative, meaningful careers, and I admire them all. Every single one of them could buy and sell me (if they had any use for me).

    I, of course, was born and raised to be a lawyer come hell or high water or any other preferences I may have had. While I have had some success along the way, my sisters have all been extremely successful– even the hopeless one. I am proud of them all.

  7. I wasn’t told that in so many words, but it was just understood that girls didn’t have big careers. I have no lingering ill will because of it – it was how my mom was raised. She was a very talented artist, but was not allowed to go to the art school to which she was accepted because “nice girls don’t go to art school.” As a parent, my mom had no idea what to do what to do with a strong-willed daughter. I’ve mentioned before that throughout high school, whenever I was busy my mom would encourage me to stay home from school so I wouldn’t be tired, and would take me to get a haircut or whatever. When I got accepted to my dream school and was jumping up and down, she put her hands on my shoulders and said “remember, there’s a lot more to college than just getting an education.” She didn’t want us to be egghead-types (an occasional high school slam). She wanted us to be middle of the bell curve with lots of friends. From her perspective, that was the key to a happy life, so that is what she was pushing us toward. When we bought a car to replace our Miata after our first child was born, she said “oh honey, at this rate you’ll be working forever.” I had to explain to her that yes, I would be. Now she is fully supportive. She’s seen SAHM daughters of friends go through divorce after never having worked, and she understands more that life isn’t always the path that has worked so well for her. But even though she supports my career, she has always praised my decision to aggressively pursue the flexibility I had.

    I corresponded with a Christian Brother who was my high school Calc teacher until he passed away. He would alternate between mailing me magazines with female CEOs on the cover and telling me he looked forward to seeing my picture there and scolding me for working with small kids, saying by the time I knew whether it was a bad idea it would be too late to undue the damage. So he did explicitly tell me to tamp down my ambition once I had kids.

    In the end, those are just voices in the background. You have to figure out what works for you. My husband thought I could cure cancer if I would only apply myself. But with the learning and developmental struggles my kids had, they needed a lot, and made my own decisions based on what made me happy. Now that they’re independent, I’m very seriously considering starting over with a new career requiring a phd in math. I just need to find my own tuition money. So leaning in can ebb and flow over a career.

  8. My mother encouraged us to go to college (she never finished, although she has a genius I.Q.) but there was no career advice because my dad is a blue collar business owner and my mother has worked at the same place for 45 years. And we’ve all sort of played it safe and not done too much. I think a lot of this is more to do with personality than parental encouragement or lack there of (none of us are Type A). My one friend from college who really did climb the corporate ladder ultimately changed jobs because she did not want to travel as much as the job needed her to (young kids at home, who even though her husband handled things, she legitimately wanted to see more of).

  9. My parents pushed me, but the culture around me did not. I was in junior high and high school back when feminism was still kind of new. People were still seriously debating whether married women should work AT ALL. At my parents parties, I heard men in my father’s department say things like “we will never hire a woman because they aren’t aggressive enough for physics and besides it would take a job from a man who needs it”. In my school, mediocrity was enough for everyone, but especially it was enough for girls. There were only a few girls in my HS calculus class.

    But… my father made me take all the math I could take, even when I insisted I hated math. He told me I always had to push myself. When I spoke at his service last year, I said that one of the best pieces of advice he ever gave me was “take all the math you can”, and I added, look how it paid off for me.

  10. Rhett- read it and have seen plenty of real-world examples. But even the “slacker” men were still working 50-60 hours per week. And I’m sure there was still plenty of travel and office emergencies of the type that would make it difficult for the other parent to also work 50-60 hour weeks.

    The only dual career couples I know with kids and schedules like that have 2 nannies for around the clock coverage and household staff to handle their cooking, cleaning, and errands. Not everyone is able to or wants to live that way.

  11. My mother had to sneak behind her father’s back to apply to college. She was accepted to a High Prestige state flagship university, and then had to convince him to let her go. He wanted her to go to secretary school. She finally was allowed to go, but had so little family support, and was so full of self doubt, that she quit after 3 years to get married. She did finish, years later, and got a graduate degree too. She never allowed any of us to even consider not going to college.

  12. I was never told to hold back, and I think it was expected that I would get accepted to certain high schools or colleges. The career, and the travel followed too. They never pushed, but they always seemed to be interested and proud of my accomplishments. They did seem surprised when I decided to stop working full time. It was the first time that I sensed what are you doing, are you sure?

    As for the Business Insider article, that was definitely going on in ibanking. It became much easier with blackberries, and now it is super easy with virtual desktops. We always knew when someone wasn’t savvy enough to turn off the “sent from my blackberry”, or you could hear a dog barking on a conference call. One of my old managers used to take calls in garage to insure we wouldn’t hear his kids, but we eventually figured it out.

    if an employee has staff in multiple office or cities, or travels – I think this isn’t new behavior.

  13. Agree with Rio on the multiplier effect.

    I never was told to tamp down my ambitions, BUT I wish my parents or anyone, really, had told me to nurture relationships and network, schmooze, etc., because that stuff is important. Being an introvert with a capital I, I was always shy, scared to go to networking events, etc. (I would even eat lunch in my dorm room when I was a freshman in college because I didn’t want to risk not seeing anyone I knew at the dining hall.) Then for work, I always felt like putting your head down and working hard should be enough to succeed, but in many cases it’s the opposite.

    As a side note, both my parents are introverted too, so I think networking wouldn’t have been something they thought of to recommend.

  14. My maternal family philosophy stemming from WWI is that women need to be educated enough and have some work experiece so that if their husband dies, they can support their family without HAVING to marry the first man that comes along that can support them. I think you can see the mixed message that while very forward thinking of a parent with girls born in the early 1920’s is not not a forward thinking for a grandchild born in the 1960’s.

    In many jobs the people’s personalities (both management and worker bees) is what allows flexibility more so that some level of work/life balance can be obtained. I have worked for bosses who required you to be in your seat 7.5 hours a day, on a very rigid schedule, and to account for the time to proved that you worked every minute for the pay you received. I have worked for bosses that needed you to get 37.5 hours in a week, but didn’t really care how you got them in as long as the work was appropriate quantity and quality. Clearly it is easier to have balance with the second type of boss.

  15. I did not learn to network until I was 30. My father was a physician, so networking wasn’t important to his career. My mother was a SAHM.

  16. When I was little I proclaimed that I would become an elementary teacher. My dad told me to not become a teacher…over and over again. At some point in high school he told me that he didn’t want my earning potential to be capped and my career to be determined by a school board. He definitely didn’t want me to settle. Of course, looking back, he never mentioned that raising a family with teaching hours has its advantages, or that going into business I would still encounter a ceiling. Although that ceiling is self-imposed for the time being. He definitely wanted his little girl to fly away and control her own destiny.

  17. I corresponded with a Christian Brother who was my high school Calc teacher until he passed away.

    (Ob. Finn): You seem so bright, I’m surprised he had to keep teaching you high school Calc until he died.

  18. My dad didn’t want any of us kids to be in a dangerous career. I recall specifically that he did not want us to be in the military, work in a convenience store, or deliver pizzas for safety reasons.

    My dad sacrificed a lot of career growth and opportunities to focus on family. My mom worked part-time once the youngest kid was in elementary school. But both of my parents came to ALL of our games. Even though they were very involved with attending our stuff, they were the opposite of helicopter parents. They just truly enjoyed spending their free time watching our activities. My dad continues to go all over to watch the grandkids’ games. An ideal day for him is going to 4 different activities for the grandkids and seeing everyone. I didn’t realize that this wasn’t normal for most people growing up until I got to college. A lot of my friends had parents with hard-charging careers. It wasn’t necessarily bad, just different. The way I was raised though has shaped my career. I think of myself as Type A-/B+. I can be Type A+ for a few weeks at a time, but not for very long. I then go back to being more Type B. I am probably one of the ones in the article that are faking like they work more. It hasn’t hurt me much. Granted I’m not climbing the corporate ladder quickly. I am achieving though pretty high on Rhett’s metric of dollars per effort measurement. I’m in one of those corporate roles making a decent living working with nobody who has a degree from an Ivy.

    My dad is now retired. He had success in sports in college. He told me that when he would see what others gave up personally for career success, he would think to himself that he had already earned his varsity letter. I repeat that quote a lot when I struggle with giving up some of the outward accolades that I could achieve professionally and accepting good enough.

  19. One of my first memories is of playing blocks with my dad and him telling me that I could be anything I wanted to be and that girls could do any job boys can do. I was like “even farmers?” because all of my little people farmers were male. My grandmothers were both college educated and worked and lived independently before marriage, so I was never held back or given discouraging messages by anyone in my family.

  20. I still remember my high school math teacher who told me that I wasn’t supposed to be good at math (which I was) because girls aren’t supposed to be good at math.

    My parents definitely encouraged me to get good grades so I could get into a good college. They didn’t have any helpful career advice or contacts or networking. I remember feeling at a loss when I was in college trying to figure out what to do next that didn’t involve getting a PhD and becoming a professor (this was the route my parents took).

    My mom was a stay-at-home wife who had to go to work after my parents divorced. She never adjusted to this change in lifestyle – which I’m sure subconsciously influenced my decision to keep working after we had kids. It never really crossed my mind to stay home with my kids (maybe in part because I made more than DH – so if one of us was going to stay home, it would be him – and he wasn’t going to do that either).

  21. I feel like my generation of women were told that we could do anything and be anything. What I wish someone had thrown in was advice to think about the kind of life I wanted and make choices accordingly. I always wanted to be a SAHM if I had a family, but I worked like that wasn’t going to happen until it did. 15 years on the other side of it, I don’t regret staying at home for a minute, but now that the kids are getting older, I do wish I had made choices that might have allowed for more flexibility over the years. If I could do it over, I would have studied nursing as it allows for so much flexibility in choices (clinical, corporate, research, education) and lots of opportunities for advanced study. I am smack dab in the middle of a mid life/SAHM crisis so I’ve been thinking about this a lot!

    I think it is also important to add that coming from a family of educators, not for one minute has anyone felt that my expensive education was being “wasted” because I wasn’t using it to earn a wage. I’m a so grateful for that. Being well educated makes your life better, regardless of what you do with it.

  22. My mother had a high powered career, dad was a small business owner. Between the two they worked a ton and their free time was spent socializing. Childcare, housework including daily cooking was all outsourced. My mother cooked on holidays and special occasions.
    With these role models, school, college, jobs came easy but a big shocker was when the kid #1 came. I hadn’t thought through our schedules and who would be responsible for hours other than day care hours, sick days, school work etc. It took me time to realize that either one of us had to scale back or we had to outsource childcare and house work completely or should not have had kids in the first place. I am happy with the flexibility I have and though I like my work, I like spending time with my kids too.

  23. I was never told to tamp down ambitions. My dad told me to major in math because very few women do and he thought it would help me get whatever job I wanted. It would have been helpful for someone to talk to me about balancing family/career. Maybe I would have chosen differently.

  24. “My mom was a stay-at-home wife who had to go to work after …. She never adjusted to this change in lifestyle”

    Got me to thinking…if I were to lose my job and never recover or we divorced (nothing points to that), I could see the same thing happening to DW, even though she works at ~60%. She’s been at that pace for so long that moving to FT work would really be a shock to her system.

    On the other hand, if I just died, she’d be fine continuing the current gig given life insurance she’d get immediately, social security survivor’s benefits and retirement money she can access.

  25. “If her mother had it in mind that Sheryl should aspire to be an affluent North Miami Beach doctor’s wife/SAHM then it certainly fits that she would have warned her about trying too hard at anything other than her looks”

    Yeah, that makes sense. Although most of mothers around me when I was growing up were happy SAHMs, somehow I never felt the pressure to follow that path.

  26. I was encouraged by my mom to make sure I was not financially dependent on a man. I was also encouraged to find a career that had some flexibility or part-time potential for when I had kids. Not lean-in, but better than the prior generation. My maternal grandmother was beside herself that my mother graduated from college and wasn’t engaged yet, and then horror moved 250 miles away from “home” to SF with her friends. My paternal grandmother upon hearing that my ex received a promotion right before we got married, exclaimed – great! now BAM can stay home and have kids. She obviously didn’t know me very well. She had a really hard time that of all her grandkids – 6 boys and 2 girls, I was the most educated and successful by traditional measures, although not the “happiest,” I am also the only divorced one so far and I am sure she thought that was not a coincidence. I never did understand why she wanted me to replicate her life when all she ever did was complain about it. She should have been an accountant, had a great aptitude for it, kept a true double entry ledger system for the family business and then for her household accounts until she was in her mid-90s – she would have been much happier if she had worked.

  27. I may as well take credit here for encouraging DW to “lean in.” I think if I had been a more traditional husband with more traditional gender role expectations, she would have all the excuse she needed to cease paid employment. But we’ve made our peace with the idea that she wants periodic reassurance that she can quit at any time, but for the immediate future, this arrangement is advantageous for everyone. I was putting my lunch together in the kitchen this morning when she commented that her boss sent an early morning email requesting something as high priority and, “it’s a good thing I didn’t have something scheduled this morning” which is a subtle way of saying “this involves tradeoffs that you don’t always acknowledge.”

    I responded that I was heading to work and would see younger guys with engineering degrees working full time who weren’t making what she’s making working part time, and that this request would take her an hour, tops, so chin up.

  28. I find it interesting that so many seem to believe “in an ideal world men and women would be able to split home and work about 50/50 each”, yet when push comes to shove it’s the women who overwhelmingly decide to curtail their careers in favor of child-rearing, certainly in the case of highly educated parents.. I guess it follows that people believe the only reason this happens is because of outside cultural factors, not from any differences between mothers and fathers.

  29. I was raised by a mom very similar to PTM’s, whose brains and ambition were forcibly diverted to teaching, nursing, or secretarial school; she chose teaching as offering the most independence, and then aimed herself at the “highest” rung on that particular ladder. While she loves her job tremendously, she still chafes at the constraints of her time, so I was adamantly and vociferously raised to go after whatever kind of career I wanted, as long as it was challenging and made full use of my intellect. Which is just as limiting in its own way. I like how tcmama said it, about being the Type A-/B+; I’ve just never been as hungry as she is. Unlike her, I do consider quitting, but then I do the same Rhett analysis and realize I’ve got a heckuva good deal going here and reclaim my sanity by taking an afternoon off to bake my daughter’s birthday cake or something.

    So, no, I never got those messages at home. And I (almost) never got them from my teachers, either, who generally were really happy to have a smart, interested kid, and who encouraged me to go be whatever I wanted. For me, it was the social aspect that we talked about last week or so — that it was ok to be smart but not too smart; that the worst thing you could do was be the guy who ruined the bell curve for everyone.

    This is the part of Rhett’s article that resonated with me: “Sandberg says she eventually realized that women, unlike men, encountered tradeoffs between success and likability. The women had internalized self-doubt as a form of self-defense: people don’t like women who boast about their achievements.” I definitely learned not to brag, or even mention stuff, and to downplay it when it came out. I also developed a self-deprecatory sense of humor as a complete defense mechanism — people don’t tend to jump all over you when you beat them to it. It is a very strange dichotomy, to be the smartest kid in class by a longshot, but not able to believe you are, and skating by socially only by hiding the evidence and downplaying your accomplishments.

    And then you go out in the world and you still have to get along with others, but now the biggest payoff goes to those who are good at bragging and self-promotion and putting themselves forward and taking risks. And I was just not very good at that, at all. My only saving grace was that little bit of social cluelessness that meant I didn’t read all of the cues about stuff I was and wasn’t supposed to do (i.e., open my mouth in meetings when I was the junior notetaker), which I think came across as the kind of “mental aggressiveness” that my employers wanted.

  30. “If I could do it over, I would have studied nursing as it allows for so much flexibility”

    Or teaching. Over the years I’ve heard this from quite a few of my female peers.

  31. cost of college, I think it is an interesting question about why so few men feel the need to spend more time with the children? My husband would like to see more of them but that means getting home at say 5:30 instead of 7:30. He is not interested in any real cutting back of his career. He works hard and likes it. Maybe he doesn’t feel the need because he knows I am here? I’ll have to ask him if he would feel differently if we were both getting home at 6:30 or 7? I know that I didn’t feel like I should be at home for my kids, I wanted to be at home. I also know that my husband could no more be a SAHD than a monkey.

  32. My parents never gave me much guidance about career, and I knew I was financially on my own for college, with no backstop if things didn’t go well. I resonated with LfB’s analysis of the difficulties of chasing jobs, and I’m a bit younger than she is, I think.

    I knew I wanted more money than my family had growing up and chose chemical engineering because it appeared to pay well from the US News and World Report in my high school library and lots of scholarships were offered in the college catalog compared to the apparent number of graduates. (I didn’t realize how few people who entered the major actually graduated.) Plus, I liked chemistry, knew I wanted kids and didn’t see how kids would work with the on-call schedules that the rural physicians I knew worked. Nursing and teaching didn’t appeal to me.

    I’ve been reading this post while babbling with Baby WCE, and I wonder how to provide advice and support without forcing her into a particular path. A college freshman I know from church just decided to switch her major from nursing to pre-vet and I wonder if she’s looked at the ROI for vet school. I wonder if I should try to talk to her- her mom has been a stay-at-home mom for 25 years. While I don’t know much about careers, I may know more than most other women she knows. She will have a lot of loans to go to vet school.

    My mom completely ignores the reality of divorce and largely ignores disability/unemployment risks. She has a strange personality where it seemed like she hoped I would fail when I tried something. She never thought I should expect to have a job, much less a career. My dad is a lot more realistic and wanted me to get a college degree so I could support myself and, if needed, a family. He didn’t care or think much about what I should study.

    I learn a lot on this blog about how people live in other areas and how people make alternate choices work. It’s interesting, and I wish I would have known it 10 or 20 years ago.

  33. “I was also encouraged to find a career that had some flexibility or part-time potential for when I had kids.”

    “I find it interesting that so many seem to believe “in an ideal world men and women would be able to split home and work about 50/50 each”, yet when push comes to shove it’s the women who overwhelmingly decide to curtail their careers in favor of child-rearing, certainly in the case of highly educated parents.. I guess it follows that people believe the only reason this happens is because of outside cultural factors, not from any differences between mothers and fathers.”

    CoC, meet BAM. IME, parents are much more vocal about advising their daughters to plan for flexibility. But it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy: husband was advised to go for it, so he has a higher-paying job with less flexibility; wife chose a more flexible, lower-paying job; so it only makes sense for her to be the one to cut back or quit. And of course that’s more socially-accepted, too.

    Not saying there are no gender differences (it certainly makes more sense for She of the Built-In Food Supply to be home in the early days, for ex.). But I do get annoyed with the arguments that portray everything as “men and women are just different,” because it’s just impossible to tease out what is genetic/biological from what is internalized from 30 years of living in our society.

  34. COC- I think it is both culture (women already tending to learn less than their similarly-educated husbands and being expected to be the more involved parent) and nature (women have real demands placed on them by pregnancy and nursing that often do have a negative impact at work, and many report a strong innate desire to be around their young children). And how the two intermingle, like how men becoming fathers is often rewarded in the workplace but women are assumed to be less competent after becoming mothers. So to have Dad rather than Mom scale back, you are often going to be choosing the financially worse option. So just on pure pragmatics, if someone is going to scale back is usually the woman.

  35. I was born in 1950 and went to parochial schools through 12th grade. The nuns and priests (in high school) and the lay teachers expected all of us to go to college. They did not favor the boys over the girls. They also expected us to get married and raise good catholic children. My parents were very supportive of our plans and ambitions and expected their three girls (bon 1948, 1950, 1955) and their son (1960) to do well in life. It seemed to me that though our parents and our friend’s parents did not have the advantage of college, they expected and encouraged it for their children.

  36. I also know that my husband could no more be a SAHD than a monkey.

    If the need arose he wouldn’t be able to suck it up?

  37. CoC, I know that generally it is the women who scale back, but when I look around at my friends and DH’s family, it has overwhelmingly been the men who scaled back or quit. Yup, I know more SAHDs than SAHMs. In particular, every mother I know with a high powered career AND kids has a SAHD supporting her at home.

  38. I don’t think my husband would ever stay home. If I died, he would probably get a nanny, an au pair and beg my mom to visit a lot. Or remarry very quickly under the condition that his new wife had to handle much of the kid stuff. He is a great father and is very involved when home, but his identify is much more tied up in his job than mine ever was.

  39. If the need arose he wouldn’t be able to suck it up?

    Of course if he had to he would do what was necessary, but it is nearly impossible to envision a circumstance at this point that would warrant it. Even if i became incapacitated he would need to work to pay for my care. If I were to die, I think he would cut back to be at home when the kids got home. When he retires, I expect he will write his novel.

  40. If I could do it over, I would have studied nursing as it allows for so much flexibility

    So do it now.

  41. “If the need arose he wouldn’t be able to suck it up?”

    My DH needs to work, because his ego is tied to his professional accomplishments. Staying at home would be very bad–he tried this for a year when a company that he worked for failed. Very bad. However, he will gladly take care of the kids, cook dinner, run errands, etc. He just needs a job he likes.

    I was not expected to throttle back my career. I did it voluntarily because I wanted to spend more time with my kids.

  42. I thought this was an interesting read:
    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/07/the-masculine-mystique/309401/

    And I think this rings true:

    “For the Boomers and members of older generations, a married couple’s decisions about work were ultimately questions of power. For younger generations, marital decisions boil down mostly to money. And yet the debates about gender, particularly the debate that has emerged in a thousand blog posts surrounding “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” and Lean In, retain the earlier framework. These discussions tend to recognize the residual patriarchy, but they do not see its hollowness, or the processes hollowing it out.”

  43. So to have Dad rather than Mom scale back, you are often going to be choosing the financially worse option.

    That seems like such an alien concept in my world. The dad making all the money seems like it’s limited to finance type careers. In what I consider the “real world” you dad the IT guy and mom the doctor. You have a couple who met at Directional State U and she just happened to be at the right place at the right time and her career took off and now dad does all the pick ups and drop offs, etc. You have 50 something consultants who are making enough money that their husbands decided to take early retirement. I’d say of the couples I know well, for +70% of them the wife is the primary breadwinner.

  44. “I learn a lot on this blog about how people live in other areas and how people make alternate choices work.”

    I think that’s true for most of us. Rhett’s “real world” is not the norm, for example.

  45. Rhett’s “real world” is not the norm, for example.

    The norm for “all” families? Among the upper middle class and above the dad being the primary breadwinner is the norm – but if you look at all nurses (as an example) a high percentage of them are the primary breadwinner. Among the lower classes it is often the single mother who is the sole breadwinner.

  46. Rhett, eventually I’d like to have a second career that’s not limited by kids and have Mr WCE quit, since he’s ready to be done already. Maybe I’ll even be able to get him to move if he can fly back for fishing and hunting.

    In contrast, until a few months ago, I was the only female engineer in the group and the other 14 people are all men with wives who don’t have careers. (They may work part-time or may stay-at-home.) My similar-age female colleague who joined recently has a professional husband.

    It would be interesting to see a map of this phenomenon across the country.

  47. I think it’s a combination of societal expectations and biological differences. The maternal instinct is different than the paternal one. In all of the dual-income families we know, the mother had a much harder time leaving the baby at daycare, for example.

    The thing that always annoys me about these discussions is when the idea that “women can’t have it all” comes up. Men have never “had it all” either. It’s never been possible to have a high-level career and be a fully involved parent.

  48. “You have a couple who met at Directional State U and she just happened to be at the right place at the right time and her career took off and now dad does all the pick ups and drop offs, etc.”
    This is the story in DH’s family. The guys not only do the pick ups and drop offs – they do most of the childcare, and work very PT just so they can say they have a job.

  49. Old mom, as a product of parochial school, my childhood was very similar to yours. Boys and girls both were encouraged to aspire to become well educated.

  50. WCE,

    As a random example, let’s take the overwhelmingly female nursing staff at at the 220 bed Mary Greeley Medical Center in Ames, Iowa. What % of them, who are married, make more than their husbands? I’d say 70% – at least.

  51. “but if you look at all nurses (as an example) a high percentage of them are the primary breadwinner.”

    That’s interesting. So in a profession traditionally dominated by women that has grown to have strong salaries, steady demand, the opportunity for non-traditional scheduling (DD has pointed out that it’s decidedly not “flexible”), widespread societal awareness of what the job entails, and widespread geographic distribution, a high percentage of women become breadwinners.

    I think every nurse I currently know–a first cousin, my new sister-in-law, the daughter of old family friends, and Denver–are all currently enrolled in programs to become nurse practicioners.

  52. I grew up in a family where all the women went to college. Of course, they were all teachers, but they had more formal education than the men, who were farmers. And my farmer grandfather was probably the smartest engineer I’ve ever known and he was completely self-taught. My grandmother with a home economics degree supposedly had to learn how to teach chemistry and a few other subjects during the war, and my other grandmother was a math teacher. It was always expected that I would go to college, and I was strongly encouraged into engineering when it became clear that I was good at math. People in my family talked about careers and education all the time, but it was always very practical – about getting a good job rather than becoming an academic.

    I don’t talk much, here or IRL, about the abusive boyfriend I had in high school, but he is my only example of being told to suppress my ambition. I recall once purposely mixing up the answers on a trigonometry test on the unit circle because he was mad that I always got better grades than he did. As it turned out, so many people in the class failed that the teacher gave us a second chance – so even when I tried to fail, I couldn’t. Fortunately, I got out of that relationship before there was too much damage to my grades, but to this day I blame him for my being 4th in the class instead of 2nd (there was no way I could have beaten the valedictorian). I’m also fortunate that I didn’t stumble into a relationship like that in college or later when the damage to my life and career would have been much greater.

  53. a high percentage of women become breadwinners.

    Keeping in mind that less than 30% of men 25-29 have a bachelors degree. If you’re a 25 year old nurse in Ames – insisting on a guy who earns more than you is going to severely limit your options.

  54. “If you’re a 25 year old nurse in Ames ”

    What is she making? $60k? Just curious.

  55. Denver Dad, thanks for the push. You are not the first person to say that to me. At the point where I am kind of evaluating all my options and trying to decide what I really “want”. I am aware that this is an extraordinary luxury so not complaining too much – but have had so many friends dying and getting sick lately that I am really trying to find out what will make me happy.

  56. “It’s never been possible to have a high-level career and be a fully involved parent.”

    Yeah, DD. That’s right. In biglaw, I got no slack for being (I hate this term) a widower with a young kid. Far from it. The final straw was when they wanted me to be the partner in charge of a deal that would require me to spend 10 days a week in Dallas!

    Heck, I might have preferred Tampa. At least they have 2 strip clubs per block there!

    I have found that being a parent is a career. And a very rewarding one at that. I had a lot of time to prepare for being alone. I was sure I had all the bases covered. I didn’t. I never figured how truly shitty my partners could be when I had other requirements. They put me in my place!

  57. @Rhett – finding a guy to marry who had better or equal educational qualifications than you was a real problem for the educated children (girls) in my parents circle of family and friends. The girls were told do study hard, do well in school, go into professions but there were very few similarly educated guys. Those guys who were educated weren’t necessarily interested in wives with professional degrees and careers of their own.

  58. Rhett – According to that site, and anesthesiologist in Boston is only making $133k.

  59. @WCE,
    http://www.schools.com/news/veterinarian-salary-career-outlook.html

    “While admittance to veterinarian schools is competitive, there have been increasing numbers of graduates in recent years, which has correlated to greater competition for jobs as well. According to the BLS, employment of veterinarians is expected to increase by 12 percent during the 2012-2022 period. Prospects may be better for those interested in working in rural areas, on farms and ranches, in labs, or in research positions doing public health work.
    With pet ownership not expected to decline any time soon, there will always be demand for veterinarians.”
    From what I’ve seen at my local vet school, there seems to be a lot of opportunity in the public health and translational medicine sides of veterinary research. FWIW

  60. There was a vet on the bachelor party trip I was on last year. He could not recommend against that field any more strongly. He said it was quickly becoming a job for rich daughters/wives to have something cool sounding to do and they didn’t care a lick about salary.

  61. Prefer not to use my normal handle for this post. My DP (dear partner) was much better with kids when they were infant/toddlers than he is now with pre-teen/teens. Due to forced retirement, he was home for several years with school age kids. He never wants to go on field trips, school events, etc. He complains a lot that they hang out in their rooms, but I think that is fairly normal unless there is something to do with the parent(s). Younger kids will play with you in the room, but older ones seem to either want privacy or for you to be engaged with them.

    Working full-time, I always told each kid to pick the most important during the day school-related thing for me to do in the fall and in the spring with them. Then I would do my best to make it happen. Only missed one event that was on the priority list due to weather delayed travel. Now that I work part-time, I still have some time contraints, but now it is more because of scheduling issues between children, so far the priority of what I attend has not been a conflict – whew!

    Being an only child caring for elderly parents and pre-teen/teens, I am thankful that I am able to be retired (collecting pension) and work part-time, which brings the pay up to prior full-time level, but gives me more time flexibility.

  62. I could never be an anesthesiologist. One mistake – and the person is damaged or dead.

  63. PTM, sorry that went down that way for you. Always so disappointing when you find out that people aren’t who you thought they were. Maybe a blessing in that you didn’t give any more of yourself to them. RE: Anesthesiology – while the salary seems high I do seem to believe that malpractice insurance is a huge expense for many doctors, so much so that there was a shortage of OB/GYNs in PA because of it. So what may seem like a large salary may not be quite as generous as we thought.

    Milo – I have to wonder about your vet. I have a friend who is a vet also who talks a lot about how uber competitive it is to just get into vet school and how truly demanding a discipline it is. I can’t image it as a vanity project for many.

  64. When my ex was applying to med school and I was applying to law school, my mom suggested I back out and be a teacher instead, “because you need one person to have a more flexible job, so they can be with the kids.” When I went ahead w/ the law school idea, she was very supportive. However, she’d have been very supportive (and likely more supportive) if I’d quit the law at any point–quit law school, retired at 30 after kids, etc. She is far more about quality of life and family than ambition/career/salary. When I recently told her I’d gone to 50% time, she was delighted. All of her kids get the most praise from her when announcing plans to scale back, versus when announcing promotions, etc. She is aggressively non-workaholic (but not aggressively frumpy!).

    DD has been talking about med school for a few years and my ex has recently taken on a mission to actively discourage her from it, pushing her toward nursing instead. He has done the same with DSD, and a few of his colleagues have joined him in this. DSD has now announced plans to do nursing in college, not pre med. It’s not a “curb your ambition” thing but rather a lifestyle and immediate employability thing. I’ll be interested to see if his wife, also an MD, says the same things when they’re here in a few weeks for graduation.

  65. It’s possible for a field to be both incredibly competitive and very low paying. Architects are the first thing that comes to mind- those programs are so demanding and classes very difficult and those guys are making very little. Also marine biologists, museum interns, reporters, etc.

  66. “It’s possible for a field to be both incredibly competitive and very low paying.”

    This.

  67. “She is far more about quality of life and family than ambition/career/salary.”

    Isn’t this the woman who said that life is too short to spend any time cleaning your house? So maybe she’s just more about quality of life over salary for the women.

  68. For the record, my wife is the sole bread winner and I am all for women power. That being said, this story has a man dead, apparently of natural causes at 48, yet the focus is on how his death affects his wife. Where is the question that maybe something should have been different for him?

  69. I have to thank one of DS’s teachers who at parent teacher conference assigned DH to help DS with school work. DH had all these great suggestions about how to tackle DS – he just wasn’t implementing it :-), leaving all of it to parent in charge (me). DS’s teacher said that I should step aside and let DH handle things on the weekends. It has worked wonderfully well.

  70. Both DH and his brother have consciously made decisions to be hands-on parents – and made very conscious choices to be very different from their father. My father was very hands-on. My mom was not a morning person so Dad was the one who got us up in the morning and helped us with breakfast. He was home by 5 pm. He put in a lot of hours – but because he was a professor, he was able to put in a lot of those hours after we went to bed and before we got up in the morning. He also split the cooking 50-50 with my mom. So DH probably doesn’t get a lot of extra gold stars from me because he’s doing what I grew up with. But he’s also doing way more than what he grew up with.

  71. I would say that DH and I split work and parenting pretty much 50-50. We both have jobs that can demand more than 40 hours a week – but are rarely more than 50 hours a week. DH is the most senior guy in his firm with a wife who works fulltime. He would have gotten farther ahead in his career if he’s been able to put in more hours – but that would have meant less time with the kids. Most of the time he’s happy with this tradeoff but I know he wishes there had been a way to be further ahead in his career and be as involved with our kids as he has been.

  72. I think every nurse I currently know–a first cousin, my new sister-in-law, the daughter of old family friends, and Denver–are all currently enrolled in programs to become nurse practicioners.

    I just graduated Friday :)

  73. A parent – what do you mean? Sorry if I am being dense!

    Rhett – I would say of our friends, the wife is the main breadwinner about half the time,. The split is usually around 60-40 or 70-30, I would estimate.

  74. Congrats DD!

    With respect to the 50/50, I honestly don’t know how to “count” it. We divided things up as fairly as we could, based on interests and Things We Hate. But that task-oriented focus doesn’t take this into account: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/10/opinion/sunday/judith-shulevitz-mom-the-designated-worrier.html

    And that’s sort of where my head is now, the Designated Worrier. It is especially acute right now, because DD’s softball season always coincides with end-of-year school requirements and summer planning and doctor’s visits and everything. So even though DH does half the drop-offs and pickups and covers half the doctor’s visits, I am the one who has that whole list of Things That Need to Be Done in my head and figures out when to fit them all in. And the fact that I’m ADD generates extra stress from the (not unfounded) fear that something will slip through the cracks.

    This spring has been especially bad, because DH is ridiculously busy, so I am covering probably 75% of the kid stuff, in addition to my work — not because he’s unwilling, just because he is busier than I am. So I am now back to considering big changes, like quitting or going half-time, because of the compilation of all this minutiae. And, honestly, I had a ton of fun Friday afternoon baking those bday cakes, and I’m starting to feel like time is too short to waste it at work. But then I look at our summer and realize that we couldn’t do the camps and vacation if I did that, and my Rhett Index is pretty damn high. So am back to buy powerball tix again, and hoping DH’s potential big deal thing fishes or cuts bait SOON. . . .

  75. Building on WCE’s comment, what advice have you given (or do you plan to give) your kids about balancing career and family? What advice do you wish you’d received?

  76. Rhett – I would say of our friends, the wife is the main breadwinner about half the time,.

    Is it more a regional or SES thing? CofC seems to think it’s not the norm at all – but 40% of women are the primary breadwinner so it’s fairly common.

  77. @Moxie – a woman I know had the same question about what she should do after her kids were in school. She thought about nursing but went on to be a real estate agent. I would think that it worked better in that there was no long haul back to school and it is flexible. I would say your own small business of *some* kind where you still have flexibility is something to consider.

  78. As I said before, it is very common among my friends and family for the woman to be the main breadwinner.

  79. Congrats Denver!

    I am the designated planner in our family. Since I’m a control freak and like to have everything done way ahead of time, this suits me fine.

  80. The woman across the street was a SAHM married to a plumber, but he split after kid #3, so she went into real estate.

  81. but 40% of women are the primary breadwinner so it’s fairly common.

    40% of mothers, but certainly not 40% of married mothers.

    And the fact that I’m ADD generates extra stress from the (not unfounded) fear that something will slip through the cracks.

    If it’s anything like the examples in the NYT column, it wouldn’t really matter, anyway.

  82. Now I just need to pass the exam and get a job.

    Does that mean that the nursing home has no use for an NP?

  83. but certainly not 40% of married mothers.

    Certainly true. Married mothers is also a proxy for social class. But, if we’re talking about the average person with whom I don’t think some carpetbaggers are all that well acquainted, then you’re more likely to find the mom as the primary breadwinner.

  84. I was supposed to take advantage of all the opportunities my mother never had, so I was a huge disappointment for many year, until I wasn’t. A bit like PTM’s sisters.

    However, the women in my family always worked for wages. There were six girls out of 10 kids born between 1902 and 1924, 2 married and moms, and all of them worked full time in white collar jobs from 18 till retirement or disability. Of my female cousins born 1930 to 1952, one married at 18 and helped later in life in the business, the rest attended college and worked – my hiatus was by far the most lengthy. As a young mother with neither money nor power, to refer to a point made above, I envied my friends who were librarians and nurses and could keep working easily. But it was inconceivable to me as a high school or college kid that I would choose a so called pink profession. In 1966 I refused to accept the nomination for the designated girl Secretary office of a large organization, and fruitlessly ran for treasurer, a boys office. And I had never heard of feminism.

  85. Milo,

    Speaking of that nurse. I can’t imagine anything better at 90 than to be working two days a week making a meaningful (and paid) contribution to the world. Would running against PTM for Shuffleboard Commissioner of The Villages really be so much better?

  86. “but 40% of women are the primary breadwinner so it’s fairly common.”

    But almost 2/3 of that 40% is single moms, who don’t really have a choice about it.

    Didn’t this all start from CoC’s question about why moms seem more likely to scale back/quit when kids come along? That’s a choice only if you start with two incomes. So that chart seems to support CoC’s point: only 15% of households with married parents have the mom as the primary provider. I bet the relevant percentage is significantly higher for dads.

  87. Didn’t this all start from CoC’s question about why moms seem more likely to scale back/quit when kids come along?

    That’s only if you look at the top half to top quarter of all people. Among married couples both with a college degree – CofC is totally correct. But, if you look at the set of all people the situation is quite different. For example, it looks like only 45% of new mothers are married.

  88. “I’d say of the couples I know well, for +70% of them the wife is the primary breadwinner.”

    But in the real world, only about 23% of wives with children out earn their husbands.

  89. “The final straw was when they wanted me to be the partner in charge of a deal that would require me to spend 10 days a week in Dallas!”

    it would be quite a feat for any parent to spend 10 days a week out of town ;)

  90. CofC,

    But, only 45% of new mothers are married. As I’ve mentioned, the people I know well tend to be very middle class. I get the impression that your “norm” is a very upper middle class one.

  91. DD Congrats!

    LfB – +1. I, too, seem to be the one that has all the lists of who needs what, especially paperwork. This was a big factor in the retire and go back part-time decision.

  92. Congratulations DD! Every doctor I’ve spoken with recently about this says they would not advise their children to become MDs, and one told me he’d recommend NP.

  93. Does that mean that the nursing home has no use for an NP?

    Right. There are practices that contract with the nursing homes to oversee the patients and round on them, but most nursing homes don’t have their own medical staff.

  94. “I get the impression that your “norm” is a very upper middle class one.”

    Locally, it’s probably true that most people I know are UMC. But regardless of my norm, for most couples with children the father is the major breadwinner.

  95. “If it’s anything like the examples in the NYT column, it wouldn’t really matter, anyway.”

    OK, I laughed, because it’s true. But it’s also dismissive. Because my list may be totally different from the examples in the article, but everything that’s on it is something that either we have decided is important to our family (home-cooked dinner; camp registrations a/k/a summer daycare so we can work), or something that I may think is completely stupid but is necessary for something we do think is important (doctor’s visits for camp, the stupid oral history presentation that the teacher just told me is mandatory that conflicts with softball). No, the world will not end if something is missed, but it does mean we’re missing things that matter to us.

  96. But in the real world, only about 23% of married mothers out earn their husbands.

    And I would suspect it’s actually gone down since that data point in 2011, as male-dominated industries like construction and manufacturing and heavy industry continued to recover.

    I can’t imagine anything better at 90 than to be working two days a week making a meaningful (and paid) contribution to the world.”

    I kind of agree.

  97. Speaking of flexibility, nursing home rounding is where it’s at. There are no appointments – you see patients when you get to them, you can set your own hours, you can sneak out in the middle of the day if you need to, etc.

  98. Congrats DD on entering the ranks of Mid-Level Provider! (Do we ever wonder what that implies about the RNs?) I hope you find an interesting and fulfilling practice. If you don’t – well, click your heels together and say, “I’m a MLP, I can try a different field.”

    On a related note, I do not want my children to end up as physicians. Too many friends, however, were encouraged by their parents’ disapproval. So, I try to encourage lots of other things…

  99. L, I mean that the guy died from something. Did he work himself to death? We should consider whatever contributed to his death as a possible cause of national concern instead of focusing solely on the how women are impacted by family tradeoffs.

  100. Did he work himself to death?

    He fell off a treadmill, cracked his head open, bled out and died.

  101. I still think the guy died of something suspicious and/or totally unpreventable (pulmonary embolus, arrythmia). Even with a massive heart attack, most people are able to get help before they hit the ground.

  102. but everything that’s on it is something that either we have decided is important to our family (home-cooked dinner; camp registrations a/k/a summer daycare so we can work)

    It’s a matter of degree, and if you’re like my wife, excessive time spent agonizing over what’s either an easy decision, or one where the competing options don’t matter. Comparing camps was a recent example of this. We both talked about the options, I recommended one, she mostly agreed, then she went on to spend several hours, in total, doing research to confirm this choice.

    Home-cooked dinner? Please. Pick up a rotisserie chicken on your way home. This stuff just does not matter. If anyone wants to waste time agonizing over it, it’s on them; it’s not the fault of society or the patriarchy.

  103. “I do not want my children to end up as physicians.”

    Because you think it’s boring and you’re practically topped out? Just curious, because I would probably be more supportive of med school over law school.

    I still think the guy died of something suspicious and/or totally unpreventable (pulmonary embolus, arrythmia).

    So it’s like how they always get it backwards with old people when they say “she fell and broke her hip,” when actually it was the other way around.

  104. “I recommended one, she mostly agreed, then she went on to spend several hours, in total, doing research to confirm this choice.”

    That’s me, but I’m getting better. I actually just bought a GPS and a rug cleaning machine based solely on their Amazon ratings. No spreadsheet; so proud of myself. :D

  105. Way to go Denver Dad! Best wishes on finding a job that pays well and is fulfilling.

    Were you always in nursing or was this a career change for you?

  106. Congrats Denver!!! Good luck on the exam!

    “Building on WCE’s comment, what advice have you given (or do you plan to give) your kids about balancing career and family? What advice do you wish you’d received?”

    I plan on showing DS that DH and I do it – we both love our jobs, and are trying to figure out how to balance him and our jobs. And I plan on encouraging DS to figure out what kind of life he wants and if his partner of choice shares that view (or if they are coming to a compromised view). I’ll totally encourage him to follow his dreams, but remember that he has to be able to pay for his dreams. I’ll encourage a sandwich plan – the degree/job that pays for your dreams to be a rock/sports star, then quit your job when rock/sports stardom takes off, and re-enter once the 15 minutes are up. And if he’s really good, invest his stardom money wisely so he doesn’t have to work once the 15 minutes are up.

  107. I totally do the spreadsheets also. Recently I was trying to coordinate with our friend for an activity for next year, to which we have been driving all of the kids this year. I spent a bunch of time getting all the different times of all the different locations, I spent a lot of time figuring out which ones we could actually get to and then she kept wanting the kids to go to a different one to fit with their schedule. BUT I only felt bad about not accommodating her request for 5 minutes! Progress!

  108. Rhett,
    My point is that we should be having a public outcry about treadmill safety, or pulmonary arrhythmia, or sketchy Mexican vacations, or whatever else caused his death, if the guy’s life was important. Now we just say it is more work for his wife and write him out of the story.

  109. “Would running against PTM for Shuffleboard Commissioner of The Villages really be so much better?”

    Rhett, are you f-word nuts! I am from South Florida. Jeb! (his name is the only one I know that has an exclamation mark included), Marco, David Riviera and Alan West are practically neighbors of mine. I’ve been forced to give money to both Charlie Crist and Rick Scott. They owe me big time.

    I WILL become installed as Shuffleboard Commissioner, and it is a position I will hold until several years following my death. Let’s not be talking about dethrowning me. That didn’t work with Cuba and it sure as heck isn’t going to work in The Villages!

    If I had a child at a reasonable age, Junior would succeed me.

    And, I add my congrats, too, DD.

  110. “Now we just say it is more work for his wife and write him out of the story.”

    “War Against Men”?

  111. I don’t see how it follows to have an awareness campaign regarding what killed him if it was a freak accident and incredibly rare way to die. That doesn’t seem at all related to how important or not his life was.

    Besides, scaring people away from treadmills would likely kill far more people from reduced exercise and car-pedestrian accidents than preventing the 3 treadmill deaths per year.

  112. Milo – not so much following your question/comment re: my mother but I think she’s pretty consistent in her “life is too short” mentality: too short for housework, too short for working too hard, too short for having both parents out of the house and no one with the kids, etc.

    She has also consistently had views that my sister believes only my mother can afford to have. So, there’s that, too, certainly, and this may be what you’re implying.

  113. if the guy’s life was important.

    Even if you’re the president and you’re assassinated you’re barely cold before LBJ has the moving trucks out in front of the White House hauling away your stuff. You die, the world moves on.

  114. In the New Yorker article, there was something about an agreement that Sheryl made with her DH early on that if one was traveling, the other had to be home for dinner. (Does that mean that it’s OK for neither to be home for dinner, as long as they are not traveling?) I don’t really care either way, but the article also said that, while she was getting familiar with FB, she would run meetings with senior management from 6pm to 9pm every night. So maybe her DH wasn’t allowed to travel at all during that time? Anyway, this is kind of the point where it becomes really obvious that she has a personality and level of ambition that makes makes her perspective and advice not really applicable to 99.8% of people, male or female.

    She’s like an Olympic gold medalist runner nominally trying to combat nationwide obesity by writing books for and giving speeches solely to the people who are already competing in marathons and telling them that they need to train a little harder and be more like her.

  115. “only 15% of households with married parents have the mom as the primary provider.”

    I think it’s 20%, or more, based on the (2011) data. Which seems to be proven by the second chart

    Changing %s to whole numbers (i.e. 25% =25 households)
    25 of the households were single mother, leaving 75 as presumably homes with married mothers.
    15 of those homes had women with higher incomes. 15/75 = 20%

    I suppose there are some portion of homes, PTM cannot be the only one, where a single father is the provider. That would make the share of homes where a married mom is the larger provider even bigger.

  116. A parent -maybe this is a local versus national thing – and that she works for a highly visible international company and wrote a book about leaning in. He has gotten a tremendous amount of press out here and while I knew little of him before, other than as the type of supportive husband I should have tried harder to find, it turns out he seems to have been a fantastic and generous person that served as a mentor to many. The focus out here seems to be more on the community’s loss of a really great leader and the assumption that with her resources and “celebrity” she will figure it out.

  117. I wonder if that data was looking only at significantly higher income, or was looking at higher income period. Because if you assume that income generally follows a bell curve — maybe a bell curve that an elephant sat on the left side of for married women — and if you assume that married men’s income is on average higher than married women’s income by even ten percent or so, when you overlap those two bell curves you will find that for that fat slice in the middle of the bell curve they will both be significant providers to the household income but the husband will typically out-earn the wife.

  118. My parents never let me know at the time when they had qualms about something I was doing. Like, I found out only after I changed major from physics to English that my father was nervous about physics as a career path (especially as he was disenchanted with engineering at that time — that improved with later career developments).

  119. “Even if you’re the president and you’re assassinated you’re barely cold before LBJ has the moving trucks out in front of the White House hauling away your stuff.”

    Not true, Rhett. Jackie didn’t move out until the end of November. The Johnsons lived at Blair House (and didn’t like it). LBJ did use the Oval Office, though.

  120. “she would run meetings with senior management from 6pm to 9pm every night.” Man, I am so glad I never had to report to her.

  121. PTM,

    Ah, it was the Oval I was thinking about.

    On the morning of November 23, just hours after Jackie Kennedy had returned to the White House with the late President’s flag-draped coffin, she went there to see how it looked (the renovation had been completed while they were in Dallas) , and to also remove personal items from the drawers of her husband’s desk there.

    Sadly for her, it was already being dis-assembled, returned to a bare appearance in order for the new President to create the space according to his own wishes.

  122. Man, I am so glad I never had to report to her.

    If you did you’d have several hundred million in the bank.

  123. LBJ would have been back in DC and the Oval Office even sooner except he didn’t want it to look like he was leaving Jackie all alone in Dallas. So he wouldn’t leave the hospital without her, she wouldn’t leave without the body, the district attorney or whoever for Dallas initially wouldn’t allow the body to be released before the medical examiner could get a look at it, since he was a murder victim. When they finally got that straightened out, the first casket that they hastily ordered wouldn’t fit through the door of Air Force One.

  124. A parent, I think she is just the more visible person in the relationship.

    PTM – You had me standing and cheering with that speech! Braveheart meets the Villages!

    Congrats Denver Dad! Truly fantastic! I may ask to pick your brain one of these days. Louise, thanks for the tip – I have friends who are realtors and it is a lot of nights and weekends – plus one of the most dangerous jobs in the US. Also I’m a little too honest in my speaking to be very good at that I think.

  125. LBJ didn’t do much right in his life (civil rights excepted) and he certainly could not be described as elegant or a gentleman. But he was very good to Jackie.

    It was a fascinating time in history. One I hope to never live through again.

  126. “Jackie didn’t move out until the end of November.”

    Yeah, well, kind of a technicality. JFK was buried on Monday 11/25/63. So they (LBJ, Lady Bird and all the other Johnsons) had to wait a whole ‘nuther year for their first White House Thanksgiving.

  127. Milo,

    Is that the market value or is it higher because it was JFKs? If that’s the market value then I love how old money it is.

  128. I am allowing it may be a paranoia about how over looked men are in today’s culture.

  129. “I have friends who are realtors and it is a lot of nights and weekends – plus one of the most dangerous jobs in the US.”

    Moxie, not necessarily in Florida. I assume they are all packing heat.

    As far as I can tell, I am one of the very few folks who isn’t. I mean, I’m sure our minister conceals and carries. That is one of the reasons I don’t want to be outed here. How could I possibly defend myself?

  130. A parent, I suspect CoC wrote today’s post before his death, and added the coda to bring it up to date before posting it.

  131. This is a very interesting quote from the article Atlanta linked above:

    The average working-class guy has the strange experience of belonging to a gender that is railed against for having a lock on power, even as he has none of it.

  132. There are parts of our culture that are sexist and dismissive against men (and other aspects that are sexist against women) but I’m just not seeing it at all with reporting on Dave Goldberg’s death. He was an accomplished man who died in a freak accident, and who happened to have an even more well-known spouse. I’ve seen plenty of articles focused on remembering him as a person and a professional. Even some talking about the dangers of treadmills.

  133. “it’s not the fault of society or the patriarchy.” Umm, never said it was. Said it was hard to figure out 50/50 parenting despite best efforts, because someone has to be the Keeper of the To-Do Lists. And that in retrospect, maybe it shouldn’t have been the ADD chick.

    ITA about overthinking/overplanning, but that is not generally my fatal flaw (our discussion was more like, “oh, $%!#&!, the regular camp session is already booked, now wtf do we do?”). With the exception of cooking for company, in which case an army could comfortably descend and not go hungry.

  134. “I just graduated Friday :)”

    Congrats, DD!

    You also just proved Milo wrong.

    BTW, Milo, my niece (who you don’t know) shifted to PT when she started her Master’s program in nursing.

  135. I’ve had a day in which 50/50 would be rough. My mom is failing, it appears I’ll be getting a new manager (and my current manager kindly responded to my e-mail letting me know I should still have a job, which was my first question), one twin got sick at school and needed to be picked up, Mr WCE is scheduling a month in Germany this summer and needed advice from the Listkeeper and I submitted a wrong file for my work-at-home job and had a computer glitch trying to fix it.

    I have no desire to Lean In on top of it.

  136. Moxie – DH and I recently met a couple who own a business. They are older than we are — I’d guess early to mid50s. They used to both work for the business – both are engineers – but a few years ago, the wife went back to school and became a nurse. She is very happy with the change and has had no problem finding hours that fit their family’s needs. They live in a midsized city in the Midwest and she seemed to have quite a number of job opportunities there. It sounded like a very fulfilling midlife switch, and a short enough haul that she’d still have quite a few years in it before she thinks about retirement. FWIW.

  137. I’m sorry you’ve had such a rough day, WCE.

    Start training those boys to entertain and keep an eye on their baby sister now! You’ll need their help this summer.

  138. “dad the IT guy and mom the doctor”

    Do you know any such couples? I’ve recently mentioned here that nearly all of the female MDs we know are married to male MDs. I can think of some female MDs I’ve known who weren’t married to male MDs, but they were single.

  139. “just decided to switch her major from nursing to pre-vet and I wonder if she’s looked at the ROI for vet school.”

    Pre-vet can also be a path to med school. One of DW’s friends (class co-valedictorian) took this route, and is now a practicing MD.

    An MD we know well (BTW, a female MD marred to a male MD) has told us that GPA is the most important factor in med school acceptance, so she discourages wannabe MDs from going to very competitive schools for undergrad studies. She’s also mentioned pre-vet as a way to med school that is less competitive than pre-med.

  140. Orthopedic surgeon married to a guy who is I think a geologist by training? and does soil structure/ ground water analysis stuff for a living.

    Aunt Doctor married to Uncle Lawyer.

    And of course there’s Ada . . .

  141. OK, just remembered, the MD who was pre-vet is married to a PhD, not an MD.

  142. “Orthopedic surgeon married to a guy who is I think a geologist by training? ”

    Very few of them here, of any gender.

    Hmm… I wonder if that would be a good field for DS or DD.

  143. “It is a very strange dichotomy, to be the smartest kid in class by a longshot, but not able to believe you are, and skating by socially only by hiding the evidence and downplaying your accomplishments.”

    Perhaps she should have majored in engineering. Being a smart female in engineering does not seem to be a social impediment. And yes, I know someone is likely to comment on being in engineering being a social impediment of its own.

    Perhaps I’ll talk to my kids about this, but that doesn’t seem to be an issue with their peer groups. E.g., the girls in debate don’t seem to make any effort to downplay their intelligence.

  144. ” I know several.”

    Interesting. Perhaps it’s just our peer group in which this is unusual.

    But do you notice female MDs married to male MDs disproportionately more than any other type of gainfully employed UMC and above males, or lawyers? (Ok, sorry, couldn’t resist slipping that in there.)

  145. Finn, that’s why the girls in debate chose to be on the debate team and not the dance team. :)

    I think expectations have changed a lot in 20 years even in Ames, Iowa, but 20 years ago, there were almost no female engineers in sororities, but there were lots of male engineers in fraternities. In my high school calculus class, 8 of the guys needed to leave early to participate in the Homecoming Court, but none of the girls were so encumbered. At Iowa State, there were lots of jokes about large, obese women engineers, but when one of the jokers saw only my lower two thirds in a stairwell, his comment was, “I wish I knew her” until I politely responded, “But you do know me.”

    You will notice I never comment on blow-outs, earrings, or manicures/pedicures because I’ve never had a blow-out, don’t have pierced ears and my nails are unadorned. This does not make me conventionally attractive, and in most Totebag professions, it would hurt my chances of advancement.

  146. “I was strongly encouraged into engineering when it became clear that I was good at math.”

    Did you want to be an engineer? Perhaps you are an anecdatum in support of my theory that while most males majoring in engineering are there because they want to be engineers, a large %age, perhaps even most, females in engineering are there because they were encouraged toward engineering because they are good in math.

    WCE apparently doesn’t fit with my theory, having gone into engineering primarily for the money, although she is good at math (and perhaps thus was not discouraged from that path).

    ilengr, are you lurking out there?

  147. ” I’ve never had a blow-out”

    Your daughter is still young. Give her time.

    But it is impressive not to have had any with your boys.

  148. I’ve never had a blow-out, don’t have pierced ears and my nails are unadorned. This does not make me conventionally attractive, and in most Totebag professions, it would hurt my chances of advancement.

    Question: when you go onto the plant floor you need to wear a bunny suit and go through that machine that blows all the dust off you, right?

    Why, in your mind, is that different than needing a blowout or a manicure to do another type of job?

  149. You will notice I never comment on blow-outs, earrings, or manicures/pedicures because I’ve never had a blow-out, don’t have pierced ears and my nails are unadorned.

    Yes, well, you know what’s first on the agenda at the Totebag sleepover — maaaakover! And then a group selfie with all of us making duckface from behind WCE Glamour Edition.

  150. Oh, dear, I get these fashion terms mixed up. It’s blow something… surely it’s not blow job, because that’s something else she needs to avoid…

  151. You used the right term, WCE, Finn was just being funny by pretending to confuse it with a diaper blowout.

  152. HM, thanks. I was actually commenting on orthopedic surgeons; from what I’ve read and heard, that is one of the many medical specialties here in which we are understaffed.

    I suppose I’ve partially answered my own question– there will probably be no shortage of MD jobs should DS or DD choose that. The real question is work conditions and remuneration.

  153. Rhett, hairnets and bunny suits are gender-neutral job expectations. Men have to wear a beard cover if they have a beard, but all these requirements are based on logic rather than fashion. It’s easy for me to understand why men need beard covers or, if they need to wear respirators, to be clean-shaven. I can’t decide where I am on the feminist spectrum, but it seems illogical to hold women to more time-consuming, expensive appearance requirements than men.

  154. Oh, dear, I get these fashion terms mixed up. It’s blow something… surely it’s not blow job, because that’s something else she needs to avoid…

    Do you want her to get married, or don’t you?

  155. Rhett, good point. The female engineers I knew who regularly worked in a clean room typically did not wear makeup to work. However, there were some operators who would put on makeup before having lunch, then take it all off before returning to work.

  156. but it seems illogical to hold women to more time-consuming, expensive appearance requirements than men.

    It seems logical to wear what will get the job done be it a bunny suit or a Chanel suit.

  157. I love earrings and makeup and girly junk. If you don’t, you don’t need to do any of them. But it kind of seems like you’re avoiding them on principle. My bff in high school avoided all that stuff on principle AND because she hated it. And while I’m psychoanalyzing you, I think you also resist doing that stuff because your self-image is “not that attractive”, so then there’s a whole self-reinforcing thing where if you absolutely don’t do anything with your appearance, you’ll probably wind up not-that-attractive, especially once you’re past age 30.

    There’s an old Sylvia cartoon mocking the 1970s Mariel Hemingway Neutrogena ads. Mariel just uses Neutrogena cleanser and looks amazing!! Sylvia, from her bathtub, says, “When you’re 19, you can wash your face with Lemon Pledge.”

  158. The two female orthopods I know are married to a tech entrepreneur and a sahd

  159. RMS, you may be partly right. I have acquired some tinted moisturizer and have been thinking about asking for a make-up lesson from a fellow mom who has a child in my twins’ reading group and who is also a former Ford model. Part of my aversion to make-up is that I have oily skin/acne and wearing make-up seemed to make the acne worse. It ties in with my whole set of hormone/obstetrics issues, bad headaches on birth control pills, etc. None of my doctors have been able to offer any great solutions.

  160. ” if you absolutely don’t do anything with your appearance, you’ll probably wind up not-that-attractive”

    Tying this to some discussion yesterday about Dallas, a friend who lived in Dallas for a few years told me that the women in Dallas really are better looking than the women anywhere else he’d lived, because it was a priority for them and they took the time and effort to look good.

    Hmm, WCE, perhaps Texas is somewhere you could find a job, without a high COL (or at least much lower than SV). Or perhaps Idaho?

  161. I actually wrote this post after Goldberg’s death, when I became curious how Sandberg would handle the loss of her 50% partner in childcare. I was surprised to learn how Sandberg felt so pressured to downplay her smartness, even though I have read how some women feel that pressure. The story was that she didn’t want to be listed as “most likely to succeed” in high school because that would make it hard for her to get a date to the prom. It really seemed odd to me, like a made-up story that would help her sell her book. But then I realized I was out of touch with the experiences and attitudes of many women like Sandberg.

  162. Coc – I think it will be interesting to see how Sandberg balances the type of job she has and the demands of it while trying to be an involved parent. I think she was incredibly lucky to have had her husband with whose help the “Lean In” advice was well and good but without someone like him or any other child related issues I wonder if she would have the same advice to lean in.

  163. WCE: Try eye liner and tinted lip gloss. Easy and won’t effect your sensitive skin. It’s a good place to start.

  164. I actually have and sometimes wear tinted lip gloss- that’s allowed where I work. I have medium brown hair and blue eyes- any advice on what color eye liner and how not to have it smear, my problem when I’ve tried it in the past?

  165. MCE,

    Did you ask the Googlehttp://www.amazon.com/Bobbi-Brown-Makeup-Manual-Everyone/dp/0446581356

  166. Thanks, HM.
    Rhett, the book is probably good, but at this point in my life, I will not follow through with reading/practicing on a 232 page book on make-up. It will join the other 627 items that are not done on my list.

  167. WCE, we must be long lost sisters.

    I have not worn makeup since I quit and I don’t miss it.

  168. The best eye liner I’ve found is Sephora’s house brand waterproof eyeliner. Surprisingly affordable. However, I’ve also used Covergirl’s Perfect Point Plus eyeliner for years. It’s not waterproof, but I still like it.

  169. Cover Girl is within my time/money budget. The nearest Sephora outlet is 40 min away and cannot be combined with any other shopping, thus, it probably won’t happen. I need a house elf…

  170. WCE – use eye primer and then a pencil liner (not liquid). Drug store brand is fine.

  171. Congrats DD! On the topic of nurses, many of the nurses in my extended clan work at university-affiliated hospitals, so they get the added benefit of significant tuition savings for their (many) kids. That is a sizable take-home-salary bump.

    On female breadwinners, right out of college I would say close to 100% of my friends out-earned their significant others. As the decades have passed, it would be closer to 50% now, I’d guess.

    WCE – I find that the Bare Essentials powder with a big fluffy brush does just enough to even out my skin tone and make me look a bit more polished without having a negative effect on my skin. It takes about 45 seconds, which is what I like most about it.

    Long Live the Shuffleboard Commissioner!

  172. WCE – Try an oil cleanser if you have oily skin. Sounds counterintuitive but it works. My favorite one is by Origins but they have drugstore versions now as well.

  173. I think expectations have changed a lot in 20 years even in Ames, Iowa, but 20 years ago, there were almost no female engineers in sororities, but there were lots of male engineers in fraternities.

    A large reason for that is 20 years ago, 90 percent of engineering students were male (or something like that).

  174. DD,

    Although the number of female engineers today has greatly improved since the early 1980s, when only 5.8% of engineers in the U.S. were women, it’s still surprisingly low. Currently, only 14% of engineers are women, according to the Congressional Joint Economic Committee.

    “In the U.S., about 18 percent to 20 percent of engineering students are now women, an improvement over the abysmal numbers of 25 years ago,” says Joanne McGrath Cohoon, an associate professor in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society at the University of Virginia, where 31% of undergraduate engineering students are female .

  175. WCE, sometimes I wonder if you are me in a parallel universe, just at different age, location, and with some different life choices.

  176. WCE, when you go to try your liner pencil, I suggest you start by just doing the outer portion (center of lid to outer edge) of your upper eyelids.

  177. Finn, I originally wanted to be an architect (all thru childhood), but when I started really looking into job opportunities and salaries and the fact that many architecture programs are 5 years, I heard the voices of my engineer uncles and mentors telling me that engineers can make more money and do more things. Of course, I ended up in a discipline of civil engineering that let me work closely with architects. And I’m so glad I didn’t have to be one of them. I’m also pretty glad I chose the engineering path because it opened more doors for me to change careers now.

  178. Rio, if baby socks start appearing in your washing machine, we’ll know there’s a quantum wormhole between my washer and yours.

  179. I don’t really know how to wear makeup or do hair but I am trying. Pinterest and YouTube help. Been trying to step up my game in that department because I live in Dallas and seek professional success in a male-dominated field. I love my kids but I love to work and I am ambitious. I have done part time but honestly, it’s better for my family if I work full time. My field is well compensated and I am still there for breakfast and dinner/bedtime most nights. I am outsourcing more and my motto on the Homefront is “good enough”.

  180. Sorry for long post, but wrote while I read….

    Personally, I have a hard time buying Sandburg’s whole “lean in” bit. She has had top notch education and connections, so had access to the right people to help her lean in successfully. Lucky situation helps *a lot* with a career when you are where the opportunites are and have influential people willing to sponsor you. What if your boss is threatened by you or the company isn’t on an upward trajectory? I did love the line of changing the job ladder to a job jungle gym where you don’t always have to move up. Men get assumed or “pushed in” while women have to “lean in.” Sandburg won the lottery on life in my opinion, great opportunities, contacts, husband, etc. It will be interesting to see where things go for her. I expect a sequel with a slighly negative slant.

    On her husband…..I LOVED the company he founded….Launch Media. The Launch player was the precursor (and much SUPERIOR) to Pandora and Spotify. Back in the early 2000’s I used it daily, programmed in my likes for 10K+ songs, and it truly knew what I wanted to listen to (Bob Marley followed by a some Morrissey then a classical song or maybe some Weird Al). Yahoo killed it. I still mourn it.

    On the OT, I have been discouraged regularly by bosses, coworkers, and myself from achieving. One boss had an issue with women doing well, probably speared on my his issues with his wife who excelled beyond him ( and probably propped up his own career). He was the boss who told me in my performance review that “I should smile more at him.” I was told as an intern that when the company was looking for an entry level person (by mid-level employee with some hiring input) that he was sure they would hire a woman because they were cheaper. This was job advice…not to apply for this job. On the flip side, a recent job interview was apparently driven by the need of the hiring company to add a woman to the group (I didn’t get the job, but really didn’t deserve it).

    I’ve had so many subversive bosses that I barely trust anyone. My experience has been to “lean in” and then be hindered. Also, as a single 30-something, it has been my experience that no one wants to hire you as you may somehow get pregnant (pricey health care) and that you are are taking a job from a family man. [seen it as manager when someone plays that card…….I have ZERO sympathy for the argument…]

    I have a different opinion on life…. I was raised by a widower…..IMHO, men should play a 50% role early on…otherwise they have no idea how to get or gain respect from kids on rules. My dad tried, but its hard to get past the “Cool, Dad is the one who takes us for ice cream!” bit even when otherwise necessary.

    Don’t knock geologists as a job…..If I only knew, that it what I would be now…..30-50 year old geologists are severely lacking….add in female and US born, I would have been fighting off the offers for the last 10 years with awesome job opportunities (international and domestic)in the six figures since graduation.

    On blow outs, if you have slightly curly hair, it is wonderful. Supercuts does a great blow out, too, just like the pricey places. Tinted moisturizer :)….Dr. Jarts!! (found here) On minimal makeup, try contrasting colors to play up eyes…..google this….(i.e., purple with green eyes, etc) It makes much more of a difference than you would ever think. (Also, a Birchbox subscription may help in novice product selection)

    Orthopedic surgeons are notoriously jocks….thus the job deters women. I know at least one with a Superbowl rig, which gives a TON of street cred. The one female I know, is a sports fan, but in the minority and had issues finding a job. Orthopedics is kinda gritty and physical and has high malpractice and fairly short career life.

    Nursing is not as great or a job in the long term (family in this field) as it is very physical and can lead to injuries….ie, picking up obese patients. If you get in management, it is very lucrative and less physical.

    Dallas sucks. Houston/San Antonio/Austin are way better….in general, people are more normal. (TX native geographic bias here)

  181. WCE, if you’re 40 min from a Sephora, does that mean you’re 40 min from any mall? One easy idea is to go to the makeup section of Macy’s or any big dept store and get a quick lesson there, then buy the stuff they use. They’ll find the right shade for your skin and they should give you a picture that shows exactly what they put where. If you tell them you only want to wear a few things, they’ll obey. They’ll tell you what they’re doing as they do it, and leave you with the DIY picture.

    Another place to consider is Ulta. These are showing up in little strip malls all over the place, so even a town without a mall might have one of these.

    Failing that, YouTube is an idea in terms of application of various things, but they can’t choose shades for you. Trial and error is good for this though, and you can do a bit of testing at the drugstore or wherever you’re going to buy the stuff.

    I would also suggest getting your brows done before you start the make up thing. Shaped brows open your face up a ton and make more of a difference than you might imagine. Get a not-too-extreme amount done and then you can keep up with it yourself at home.

    I do love HM’s sleepover/makeover idea. I hereby volunteer to hold baby WCE for the duration.

  182. One of the important things to think about with nursing and flexibility is that it has very poor short term flexibility (can’t duck out for the Mother’s Day tea for a few hours), but excellent long term flexibility (easy to cut back to 24 hours/week for the next few years while you need/want to do more at home).

    For most nurses, 0.6 FTE (24h/week) is the threshold for benefits as well.

    I always thought I would do some kind of international work once I completed my training. In my imaginary other career trajectory, I would have gotten a 2 year nursing degree, and at 20 traveled with that – maybe worked for an aid organization. It is difficult to do standard medical training in the US and then work internationally – hard to finish before you are 30 and the level of debt, and deferred compensation (at least for me) makes it hard to do anything other than go straight into practice. That contrasts with a European physician (who make up most of the international aid docs, in my experience) graduating at 23-24 from medical school (can go directly from high school) with minimal debt and more flexibility in graduate medical training.

  183. I would not encourage my kids to go into medicine because I think that there is absolute downward pressure on pay, and that will continue. I think electronic records and patient satisfaction have continued to erode the core experience of taking care of people. I think most physicians would like to do something else, but have little ability to find other work and end up frustrated (and statistically, suicidal, divorced, alcoholic).

    Unlike NP, CRNA, PA – there is a much bigger up front investment (financial and time) before you know what patient care is really like. I committed to being and MD when I was 18 – I didn’t become board certified until I was 31 (with no break in training/education). 18 year old me really didn’t know what it would be like to do the work that I was signing up for.

    DD, on the other hand, has a very realistic expectation of what his new job would be like, and it has taken him a few (3?) years to get there.

  184. “Don’t knock geologists as a job…..If I only knew, that it what I would be now…..30-50 year old geologists are severely lacking….add in female and US born, I would have been fighting off the offers for the last 10 years with awesome job opportunities (international and domestic)in the six figures since graduation.”

    Interesting . . . the last time I checked, about 35-40% of geol. graduates were women, in sharp contrast to about 5-10% back when I graduated. From what I can tell, many more government-related jobs have opened up in recent years, which I believe are more female-friendly than jobs in petroleum and mining. In my day, international work was mainly out of the question for women because most of those jobs were in locations where women’s roles were severely restricted.

    Did the barriers to a job in geology send a message to me that I should not pursue that ambition? Perhaps, but for the most part it didn’t seem to deter me. That may be the oblivious part of me.

  185. @WCE – you put the reminder in my head to go do makeover. The stores here schedule free make up events where you can put your name down and secure an appointment with a make up artist when the hold the event.
    However, all these events are scheduled for Saturday mornings when I am busy with kid activities. Summer Saturday’s are a good time for me to go in – I hope they have make up artists coming in, in the summer.

  186. On who doctors marry – none of the 60 women in my medical school class were married when we started. About a dozen married people they knew before school (college, etc.), a dozen married classmates, a dozen married people they met in residency, a dozen are unmarried and a dozen found someone outside the hospital.

    Most women marry someone with equal or greater education, income. For MDs, the pool they have access to are other doctors during their prime mate finding years.

  187. Risley, thanks for the anecdote about your friend. It is good to hear. I have several things I’m considering, maybe just afraid to pull the trigger, maybe just afraid of making the wrong decision, maybe just afraid to fail… sigh.. Gonna go for a hike with dogs.

  188. “I think it is also important to add that coming from a family of educators, not for one minute has anyone felt that my expensive education was being “wasted” because I wasn’t using it to earn a wage.”
    Luckeeeeeeee! (Said in my best Napoleon Dynamite imitation).
    Moxie, I feel ya. I’ve sort of worked through all the woulda coulda shoulda about my extended years in SAHMdom, and am at peace with my little part time job now, but I spent a lot of time in the “why didn’t I go into nursing” thought loop. I forgot how the mantra when I was in school was, “women don’t have to go into education or nursing!” I think I did the best I could with what I knew at the time.

  189. I only know two female MDs personally. Both have kids. One is a pediatric orthopedist who is married to a stay at home dad. The other is an internist who works for one of those largescale medical practices so she can keep sane hours, and is married to a sociology professor at a small rural college.

  190. moxie/HFN – not that this isn’t a group who can motivate themselves but if it’s an “I’m too old” thing, I sometimes think of a line that sounds like something Rhett would say:

    Non-Rhett: but, it’ll take 3 years to become a nurse. By then, I’ll be 50.

    Rhett: And how old will you be in 3 years of you don’t become a nurse?

    In my head, it’s a far more motivating, it’s-never-too-late kind of battle cry than it seems on my little phone screen…

  191. Also HFN – nice Nap D line! We just watched that on the weekend (for the 1000th time give or take). We’ve been singing, “Yes, I love technology/but not as much as you, you see/But I still love technology…” All week. In the requisite Kip nasal voice.

  192. @Moxie – I will continue thinking (and asking around) for ideas. My neighborhood as you know is filled with SAHMs. To my knowledge, none of the women with now grown kids took up paid employment. One fosters dogs. One neighbor who moved away used to volunteer a lot at church.

  193. I spent a lot of time watching nurses in action when my kid was sick. I have also known several nurses here in my neighborhood. That is so not a career for me! Too much stress, too busy, too many body fluids… Even when my kid was sick, my DH did all the at-home nursing tasks (running TPN, doing at home shots, central line care, etc), while I did the medical research part and talked to the doctors. To be fair, I wouldn’t want to be a doctor either.

  194. Moxie: Just do it. People will be jealous that you have the gumption to explore a new career at middle age.

  195. Most of the later in life nurses seem to be pretty happy with the job. I think there are a lot of good jobs in medicine, but not a lot of good careers. There are a lot of ways to practice and a lot of options – for a reasonably competent person, you can choose interesting, easy, rewarding, well-compensated (or, if you are lucky, perhaps even more than one of those).

  196. When I was working at the health IT place, most of the business analysts were ex-nurses who wanted out of clinical. They preferred to spend 8 hours a day in a cube tracking HIPAA X12 formatting errors over nursing.

  197. The one big reason I did not go into medicine was because I don’t like needles and get squeamish at the sight of blood. It used to not bother me as much I now need to sit down after a blood test otherwise I get very light headed.

  198. and that you are are taking a job from a family man.

    To be generous, I read slightly less sexism into that comment than you do. What I think he’s saying is, “I want to hire someone who needs the money.” In his mind, that person is almost always a man.

  199. Yet, in a Harvard Business Review article, Reid writes that when she approached the firm’s leaders with her findings, they showed no desire to modify their expectations of long work hours. Instead, they said a man who reveals his lack of interest in being fully committed to his work is not the kind of employee they want. Moreover, they asked how they might teach women to pretend they were working more, too.

    I’m curious. Do you think at least some women are bringing up their need for flexibility because they want credit for it as a mom among their colleagues? Sort of a conspicuous caring thing? Where guys just sneak off because there is far less peer value to them in drawing attention to their commitment to their families?

  200. Risley you are correct. Rhett is too. HFN good to know I”m not alone. I wonder if our generation wasn’t done a disservice by just telling us to aim as high as we could without thinking about the kind of life we wanted. Part of my issue is deciding whether I really want a new career or not. I think sometimes a lot of SAHMs think that a job or career is some panacea so trying to be thoughtful. I’m in a search for meaning and not sure if just picking a career is the easy way out. Also thinking about comedy, maybe improv, maybe a book. I don’t spend a lot of time here being funny, that’s what my Facebook is for – but that really makes me happy. Again, fear, self doubt, inertia all at play. Am spending a lot of time alone, thinking…

  201. Late to the party.
    WCE, I would strongly recommend going to Sephora or any other place where you can try on different products and then decide which one you like. Sometimes I even use the samples for a week before deciding which one to purchase. Sephora also has a lenient return policy if something doesn’t work out.
    My sister and several close friends are nurses. The flexibility is great, both in hours and the ability to switch among different areas of nursing. Just keep in mind that bedside care can be very physical, and for many of my friends, that part has gotten harder as they’ve aged and the population is more and more obese. Moxie, two local colleges have a special fast track program for individuals with college degrees in other fields who want to transition into nursing. Perhaps there’s a similar program near you?
    OT, and I’ve mentioned this here before, when I was in HS my parents literally told me that a college education for a girl was a waste of money, and if I wanted to go to college so badly, I’d have to figure out how to do it on my own. So I did. Thank God. After seeing me graduate, get a well paying job, and travel around the world, they’ve completely changed their views on the topic.

  202. Rhett – I don’t think so. The challenge for me is the standard business hours expectation of being available 8 to 5. Over the years I found 8 to 4 worked best for me with logging in from home later at night. Most guys would do 8 to 5 or a little later, most days no logging in at night. Lots of women quietly work their school friendly schedules, work from home Fridays etc. Sheryl Sandberg for the time being is doing the same only with much more publicity.

  203. Moxiemom, You are one of the funniest people I have ever met, either in real life or on the interwebs! Here’s another unsolicited suggestion – try out some of your ideas by volunteering in the field. And sometimes volunteering can lead to a paid position. If you’re more concerned about finding meaningful work than earning big bucks, nonprofit might not be so bad.

  204. Rhett – I don’t think so.

    Then why are women so much more likely to bring it up?

  205. I was really pushed to aim high and achieve more. This was mostly by my mom who despite knowing my intellectual limitations (or rather unwillingness to work hard) wanted me to pursue the highest academic goals on earth and the highest career goals. She did not really say it, but wished her kid would become a rocket scientist or cure cancer.
    This push was mainly just that- a wishlist, without any proper guidance as to the various career options available and how to get there etc. Her mantra was “just work hard”.
    But her main advice to me was to make sure that no matter what, and even if my husband made a ton of money, was to be financially independent.
    She gave up her very stable government job to be a SAH mom and has regretted it since as she feels financially very dependent on my father.

  206. I think the Schwarzman article is over the top. Yale may not need the money for a performing arts center, but to moralize over where someone gives their charitable contributions because the author feels like there are worthier causes (and apparently only ones in Africa) is irritating. Also, I don’t think of Yale as a “finishing school” for rich kids. If 52% of kids get financial aid then that is significant.

  207. Moxie – well, sure seems like there’s a book in a SAHM deciding to change things up and try stand up. So, you could kill a couple of birds there — nice and efficient. :)

  208. Atlanta – I agree with that, too, but he’s justified in making his argument because of the tax deduction.

  209. Hmm, but I get the feeling the author would be ok with the tax deduction if the $ went to a charity that he deemed worthy.

  210. Forgot to add to Denver Dad- congratulations! That is a huge accomplishment.

    On the Dallas comment, Dallas isn’t bad and I so resisted living in a super affluent, very “Junior League” type neighborhood here but I actually love it. We finally sucked it up and moved for the schools. People might be fake but they are so polite, I don’t notice it and it is pleasant doing pretty much anything. I appreciate their high standards for schools and city services. I don’t know why I thought I wouldn’t belong here or resisted as long as I did. Man, if only I bought in this neighborhood in 2009….

  211. I think Rhett is right that women want work credit for being a mom. I certainly do! I sure as hell don’t want to be sitting around waiting for the managing partner to do his morning “walk around” to check his inventory of lawyerly bodies when there is some event going on at my son’s school. Similarly, if my night is going to be hosed because I have to read and comment on a 130 page document by morning, why can’t I take that document and read it after I get home from my kid’s soccer game?

    But I do think that involved parenting is the kiss of death in many careers.

  212. “But I do think that involved parenting is the kiss of death in many careers.”

    And that should be fine. Not all careers or jobs pay the same or carry the same demands. We shouldn’t pretend that everything can be equal and without tradeoffs.

  213. Dell- another reason I work. My dad constantly puts down my mother and controls her and she doesn’t believe she has options. I feel that I always need to be capable of supporting myself and my kids in our desired lifestyle. Goal has been to bank DH’s salary. We don’t always get there but savings rate is significantly higher. Also love being able to max out two 401k’s. I would be sad to miss out on the tax advantage it offers.

  214. “We shouldn’t pretend that everything can be equal and without tradeoffs.”

    I’d agree with that Milo. If I do less work or produce less revenue, then pay me less. I’m okay with that. But let me order my life according to my priorities.

  215. “Not all careers or jobs pay the same or carry the same demands.”

    The best candidates can demand flexibility. If you’re not willing to give it to them, they will find somewhere else to work. Or you have to pay them extra to put up with your b*llshit rules.

    I was once interviewing for a company for a fairly senior position. They told me I had to be in the office from 8-5 every day. I asked “how about 7-4”? They refused. I asked why. They said “Because this is the way we do things.” I found another job. They would have to pay me at least 50% more to consider such an inflexible job.

  216. Houston – True, to a point. But if you wanted to be senior management at Facebook under Sandberg, neither 8-5 nor 7-4 was going to cut it. You needed to also be there from 6-9pm for strategizing. They certainly could have demanded flexibility, too, and found another employer, but as Rhett pointed out, they would be a couple hundred million poorer now. And that’s fine. Let applicants and employers work that out.

  217. PTM,

    That makes sense, with one caveat. If the client has a crisis and spend 4 hours trying to call, e-mail, txt and IM you and you’re MIA and that client then calls the managing partner to hunt you down. He has a legitimate gripe.

    Houston,

    If you want to leave at 4 – that’s fine. If you need to be in at 10 because you had to take the kids to the doctor in the AM – fine. Don’t even bother making up the time. But, if we have a crisis and we need everyone on a call at 4 then you can please use the bluetooth in the car to take the call?

    Examples taken from personal experience with co-workers.

  218. 1. I think calling Yale a finishing school is a little ridiculous. They tend to turn out really fantastic people.

    2. Short of someone donating money to a hate group, I am not sure any of us should be criticizing where a person donates. There are lots of nonprofits that don’t do much good. People still get a deduction for their donations. If you don’t like this, take that up with Congress.

    3. The author seems a little jelly.

  219. Rhett, I agree with you completely. And every client knows every number at which to reach me. The only time I don’t carry my phone is when I go to church on Sunday. (And I carry it then if Junior isn’t with me.)

    This is the way it’s always been. I have known always as a lawyer a client can be as arbitrary with my time as it wants. But I’ve always gotten pissy about face time. Except for 2 hours on Sundays, I can always be found.

  220. This wasn’t FB. FB is willing to compensate it’s employees very well, as are Google and Apple. They work you to death, but they pay a lot and there’s a “sexy” factor that makes you very employable when you leave. That’s the deal and everyone knows it–kind of like law or I-banking. Again, if you have b*llshit rules, you have to pay extra for talent to compensate them for having to put up with your b*llshit.

    I also don’t mind working at night and on the weekends–I do that now. It was a poor cultural fit, and I’m so glad I didn’t take the job. I can’t imagine working in Corporate America anytime in the near future.

  221. “I wonder if our generation wasn’t done a disservice by just telling us to aim as high as we could without thinking about the kind of life we wanted.”

    I’ve wondered the same. I very nearly chose a more family friendly career, one that I think I would be very happy with. But I was extremely good at and loved my major (the career I did choose) and when I mentioned that future family was a consideration in potentially doing something different, almost everyone (especially my mom) said “Don’t limit yourself. Besides, you might never get married and then you’ll really regret trying to choose a family friendly career.” Which was true, but in hindsight I wish I’d made the tradeoff between slightly less prestige and money (still plenty) and doing something that I’d be able to keep doing in a variety of life circumstances.

    Moxie, I’d love to read a book about a SAHM turned Standup comic. Or see you on Netflix someday. Maybe a sort of cross between Jim Gaffigan and Tina Fey?

  222. WCE! Just saw the makeover discussion. Feel free to email me at L juggle atty at gmail and I can talk to you about product selection at more length if you want. Sephora has free shipping over $50 and a great return policy, if you can’t make it to the store. :)

  223. “Moxie, I’d love to read a book about a SAHM turned Standup comic.”

    Weren’t Phyllis Diller and Joan Rivers both SAHMs first?

  224. Also, Rhett, the Kennedy estate grounds are gorgeous. The house is hideous! Looks like really low ceilings too.

  225. “I can’t decide where I am on the feminist spectrum, but it seems illogical to hold women to more time-consuming, expensive appearance requirements than men.”

    @WCE, I think that puts you on the “radical feminist” end. :-)

    FWIW, it looks like you and I have similar coloring. My normal daily makeup routine is eyeliner (pencil, not liquid) in a purplish shade (looks nice with blue eyes and fair skin) and concealer as necessary for breakouts, maybe a little tinted lip gloss. Also agree to start with the eyebrows — I don’t do much beyond plucking the strays and swiping on an eyebrow powder (not pencil) to darker the greys and fill in the thinning areas (which is apparently an actual “thing” with Hashimoto’s). But I’ve been very, very surprised to discover what a big difference it makes just to keep them neat and visible.

  226. Yowza you guys flatter me. Erma Bombeck – she’s the holy grail. As for the book, I wasn’t aiming very high, just maybe something people keep in the bathroom. My target market would be people with inadequate fibre intake. I think in a perfect world I’d provide comedy in a hospital setting. I’m great with medicine. If you are ever hurt, I’m happy to go to the ER with you. Unfortunately not EVERYONE is feeling the humor at that time. I do think I know what I want to do – I’m just standing on the edge of the high dive, fidgeting. Your kind words and encouragement mean so very, very much. You don’t even know.

  227. Louise I will keep you posted. I would certainly “out” myself for book sales if necessary. I’m afraid everyone here eats too much fiber to be in the market for a bathroom book. : |

  228. Agree, Moxie, you’re very funny. Give the book or standup a try.

  229. “wished her kid would become a rocket scientist”

    I had two rocket scientist job offers out of college.

  230. Mooshi, thanks for posting that link. It makes a lot of the points I’ve been trying to make.

  231. Thanks for the advice. We have a “mall” with Ross, Target and Old Navy but no make-up counter. I’ll buy some Oil of Olay, obtain an eyeliner pencil and see how well it works, continue with the tinted lip gloss, and try to do something with my eyebrows.

    The nearest Macy’s/JC Penney/whatever major department store is 40 min away and I don’t care enough at this point in my life (I’m nursing an infant, so could not even go without her) to figure out more than the above. If I interview/obtain another job in the future, I’ll probably try a makeover. All the people at the makeup islands look heavily made up, and that’s not what I want. I want to look like me, without bags under my eyes from being up with sick kids and without acne.

  232. “If I do less work or produce less revenue, then pay me less. I’m okay with that. But let me order my life according to my priorities.”

    This was one of the best things about a previous employer. They’d generously reward those who put in a lot of time and contributed significantly to the bottom line, but there was also a place for those who would turn the crank for 40 hours a week– no stock options or big cash bonuses, but regular work and a good steady paycheck– and anywhere in between. It was up to each person, and his/her manager, to figure out where in the continuum you wanted to be.

  233. Unlike NP, CRNA, PA – there is a much bigger up front investment (financial and time) before you know what patient care is really like. I committed to being and MD when I was 18 – I didn’t become board certified until I was 31 (with no break in training/education). 18 year old me really didn’t know what it would be like to do the work that I was signing up for.

    This is why the PA route has become so popular. You can do 80% of what an MD does and it only takes 2-3 years post-college with a lot less debt.

  234. “I would not encourage my kids to go into medicine because I think that there is absolute downward pressure on pay, and that will continue.”

    How long do you think the downward pressure on pay can continue?

    Locally, we apparently have a shortage of physicians, especially in certain specialties (e.g., orthopedics, neurosurgery), and many of the currently practicing physicians are at or near retirement age.

    Supply and demand suggests that a shortage of physicians would mean they would be able to charge more for their services, but increasingly, medical care is becoming a monopoly, with payouts dictated by government and insurance companies (especially the case here).

    So at some point, something’s got to give. If government and insurance companies continue to suppress provider remuneration, that will exacerbate the physician shortage, which could lead to some combination of more of that work going to PA and NP; decreased access to health care, especially for those depending on government programs like medicare; and more MDs going outside the government/ insurance umbrella, catering largely to wealthy patients.

  235. The biggest reason for the physician shortage is they haven’t increased the number of residency slots in about 20 years.

  236. “I want to look like me, without bags under my eyes from being up with sick kids and without acne.”

    So basically you want to be you 5 years ago?! I remember brushing my toddler’s teeth and looking in the mirror and thinking “WHO is that old woman with my child?” It was me. Don’t worry, lots of things come back but I am sorry to say that your breasts are likely a lost cause.

  237. DD, Ada, have you seen MDs retiring due to Obamacare and/or electronic records requirements? I keep reading that is exacerbating the physician shortage.

    I suppose the limitation on residency slots, and the resulting physician shortage, is also likely to push more medical services to be delivered by PA and NP.

  238. Finn, reimbursements were going down before Obamacare. The biggest issue is that the economics of primary care aren’t worth it for MDs. My expectation is that primary care is going to be taken over by NPs and PAs and MDs are moving to the specialties so they can get a return on their investment.

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