Taking a career pause

by Up North

While scrolling through a list of new books available at my local library, I came across “Work Pause Thrive: How to Pause for Parenthood Without Killing Your Career” by Lisen Stromberg. I was intrigued to find out what the author meant by a work pause and if it may be applicable to my own career path.

The author defines a pause as “temporarily reframing of one’s priorities to place the personal before the professional.” Stromberg notes there are different kinds of pauses that she labels Cruisers: staying in the paid work force with a downshift to part time work or a flexible work arrangement, Boomerangs: leave the workplace completely and then recommit to their careers by returning to their previous industry, and Pivoters: leave the workplace completely and pivot to a new profession. She notes a pause can happen with young children, older children, or when one is taking care of a parent.

The book gives a name to the career/life path I’ve chosen to take and discusses many others who are also creating their own path. Stromberg states that we have a bias against caregiving in this country and that often a career pause isn’t the “choice” it’s often made out to be.

I have downshifted my career to be my children’s primary caregiver. I started my career at a large firm, worked PT at a smaller firm for a couple of years, was primarily a SAHM for 1.5 years, and now work at a large firm with a flexible work arrangement. There are trade-offs to the path I’ve taken. On the plus side, I’ve had more time with my children, more time for my own interests, and have been able to “stay in the game” professionally. Some of the downsides are having less challenging assignments than I would likely be given if I didn’t have a FWA, having others assume I am not as committed to my career, and watching others pass me by career-wise. I enjoy working and would like to focus more on my career when my kids are a bit older. I hope that reading this book will help me to do so.

Here’s a link to a review of the book:

Work Pause Thrive: How to Pause for Parenthood Without Killing Your Career

If you’ve taken a pause in your career, in what way did you pause? How has it worked out for you?

For those of you who haven’t taken a career pause, what do you think of those who pause? Should work places do more to accommodate caregiving pauses?


112 thoughts on “Taking a career pause

  1. Umm, all of the above? Except “pure” SAHM? Very part-time telecommuting while home with infant that ranged from “SAHM in all but name” to “working at least half-time, if not more”; office job on part-time schedule off of standard associate-partner track; office job on part-time schedule on standard associate-partner track (both as associate and partner); now office job on full-time schedule (and debating dropping back again but for personal reasons vs. childcare).

    I’m honestly pretty damn grateful for as far as we have come. When I started work @25 years ago, my career path was not even an option; you either sucked it up and didn’t have kids and made partner just like the guys, or you went the mommy-track permanent associate route. AND it was entirely gender-based; any man who wanted to take a primary childrearing role would have been laughed at behind his back. So to look back now and see how much has changed — the fact that there are all these conversations, all these books, all these different things to call it — is pretty awesome.

    I don’t think there’s a particular right or wrong answer; I think the max flexibility that works for both employees and employers is best. I do think there is a whole bunch of talent that is not being fully taken advantage of, and that companies that figure out how to do so will have an advantage long-term.

  2. I have stayed in the workforce full time but down shifted because I am the primary or go to parent. On most days I am in the office and my current group likes to go into the office as opposed to WFH. We do have flexibility, so everyone tries to balance work with personal life. There are some who go to the gym during the day, there are others who come in early and leave early, some who take time off when things are slow and make it up on busy days.
    I could ramp things up when my kids are out of the house. I am fortunate to have the flexibility- as LfB mentioned, in a prior era it may have meant giving up my job because such flexibility was just not done (and without a remote connection WFH was not possible).

  3. When I had my first DD, it was early days in flexibility. My office offered flex-time/compressed time, which meant you had the same schedule every day/week, but is wasn’t straight 8-12 and 1-5. I asked to cut back to 35 hours a week, which was mainly successful because I was co-project leader with a man who was supportive and our boss was OK with it ONLY if my co-project leader was. About a year later, I changed departments and worked 35 hours a week, except during our peak periods when I was 40+. Then, I changed employers and went back to full time. As both my dds were in school, it was easier, plus my partner was retired and he was the SAHP. Then I retired about 3 years ago because my then office was not open to reducing to 30 or less hours a week that I needed to meet elder and child care needs. About 2.5 years ago I went back to work for them part time and primarily WFH.

    I think in every one of those jobs, except the one I retired from, I had more than one boss during the time I held that position. Whether I was “mommy tracked” or not was more based on the personality of the boss that of the office or the position itself.

  4. I’m in the throes of childrearing and don’t yet know how my career story will end. Work has been frustrating for the past few months. The only way to get approval for a process change is to use “soft skills” with overseas counterparts who don’t understand the process but can veto the change. Workload will ramp because we shut down one of three international sites and their work is transferring back to the U.S. Upper management recognizes the stability and productivity of its U.S. workforce and we’ll see what plays out over the next few years. Thanks to upper management’s unintentional decision to gate its U.S. fab capacity with my equipment and my professional dedication, they can bring all complex manufacturing back to the U.S. if they ever want to, I think.

  5. One of the reasons this site has persisted is that almost all of us, male and female, have made work/family tradeoffs as our circumstances changed. Some choices were mostly constrained at the time in response to unforeseen circumstances, others mostly voluntary, some serendipitous. In general, we are all practical and hard working people, some with a better run of luck than others. And none of us are eating bon bons with a glass of white wine or playing video games all day while waiting for someone else to do the necessary work. We get to share experience and give advice (not always to the point, but well meant). I personally have found many helpful new ideas here, even though my stage of life is a bit beyond most of yours.

    I was a late entrant into the post university workforce, just shy of 40 with kids 9 through 19 at the time, and by good fortune able to retire in my early 60s. However, I worked very long hours until about 55, with lots of extended travel once the youngest left for college.

  6. Meme’s point is important – I think that if your organization sees you as an asset (expertise, follow-through, get the work done, etc.), they are more willing to work with you when you ask for flexibiity.

  7. ” I think that if your organization sees you as an asset (expertise, follow-through, get the work done, etc.), they are more willing to work with you when you ask for flexibility.”

    I absolutely think this is true. It is much easier to negotiate when you already have a solid reputation and the organization thinks that they need you. That’s one of the things that keeps me from changing jobs, even if I could make more $$ or move up more quickly. The energy and time investment to rebuild that trust and reputation is daunting.

    My career path to date, a bit more than half-way through my working years, has been fairly straight. But I did pause and purposely stay in a less challenging job for a few years while pregnant & parent to an infant. I took a more challenging job when he was in preschool and have worked up from there in a fairly traditional way. I don’t have a official flexible work arrangement, and I don’t particularly need one at this point. But I do take advantage of the flexibility that technology and my bosses have allowed which includes WFH occasionally when needed, taking time during the day to handle personal things, and the like, especially during the slower times of the year/month.

  8. I had a brief, very brief in the scheme of things, pause about 10 years ago. ~Two years before that started I had been laid off by a long time employer, but had fortunately picked up a couple of “consultant” gigs that lasted for those two years. When the second one ended in May, there was no new assignment for me, so I/we decided we could make it thru the summer without me working. That turned out to be thru to January. My kids were 12, 10, 7 when this started so I was able to do a lot of things with them, including as a volunteer for things they were involved in. The money/income pressure was always there in my mind, but going in it was supposed to be a 3-4 month deal, so I knew we’d make it.

    It was a good move. During the day I really did try to find work, networked for the mornings; I then usually went for a fairly long bike ride (~2 hours), had lunch, did errands, was home for the homework/dinner craziness.

    Different than “downshifting”, this was kind of brought on by lack of immediate employment opportunities. Since, I got that third consulting gig and then transitioned into FT with this employer.
    Now my mind is on making sure we are set for me to retire, which looks like around 7 years from now. Sooner if certain things can happen (those certain things exclude lottery winnings), but 7 years is the target now.

  9. This is the thing I think that is hard to communicate about some kinds of professional work – there is no career path. I have worked between 10-60 hours per week since leaving residency. My pay at 60 hours a week was roughly 6x what I made at 10 hour per week. I’m fortunate to work as much or little as I want, with very little consequence. Very few people move into meaningful non-clinical responsibilities (a number get unpaid administrative duties over time).

    I would assume the same is true for some other kinds of work (if you don’t cover the overhead yourself) – CPAs, some lawyers, other health professions (dentist, massage, PT, OT, therapist).

    I used to see this as a huge downside – after 20+ years of school there was no path to do anything different and every day was just another day of making health care sausage, and I would still be making health care sausage in 30 years. There is a bleakness to this that is hard to understand when you start down that path at 18. I still think of finding other paths. In part to what I have learned here, I have come to appreciate my flexibility.

  10. Let’s see… I took 12 weeks each time. Second time I logged 3.5 days of work (26 hours total) even though my company is against it. So next week I get to ask my boss for comp time. Those 3.5 days are mine damnit! :)

    I plan on working full time for probably ever. Luckily DH and I have flexibility and can split care as evenly as possible. My mom is also a great support system. We’ll see how things go.

    I start back up on Monday. I’m nervous and excited. I’m hoping I jump back in well enough for my boss. I didn’t last time and got dinged on a performance review.

  11. Good luck, Rhode!

    Have any of you dropped out completely for a significant period and then went back to FT?

    I took what was supposed to be a career pause about 15 years ago, but it turned into retirement. :)

    My initial reason for quitting was to focus more on family, which became important as my kids entered school and our jobs kept us away from home about 60 hours a week and business travel became less predictable.

    Some of the reasons I quit instead of working PT were:
    I did not like the idea of being on the mommy track. Partly my ego and partly work is less satisfying if I don’t put full effort into it.
    Difficulty in finding PT work in my area in my line of work.
    Based on what others had told me, I probably would have had to do 3/4 of the work for 1/2 of the pay.
    Childcare hassles. I expected I would have had to put together an ever-changing patchwork of childcare solutions.

    Before I dropped out I had negotiated a compressed 4-day work week that was a renegade idea for our company. But then after a couple of years doing that my employer made me go back to 5 days. At the time I was managing about 30 employees, all full-time and all in the office 5 days a week, so it was a challenging situation.

    All in all it worked out well and served our purposes. At some point I may decide to re-enter the work force.

  12. “I’m fortunate to work as much or little as I want, with very little consequence. ”

    Yes! That’s a nice benefit.

  13. If the federal cuts actually happen, I’ll probably get a career pause next year. It will be interesting to see what happens professionally and personally. I may take my hand at homeschooling!

    I’d like to take a sabbatical eventually. I’d really like some time to explore some research avenues I haven’t had a chance to. But not many places offer that. Except in a unemployment situation.

  14. “Based on what others had told me, I probably would have had to do 3/4 of the work for 1/2 of the pay.
    Childcare hassles. I expected I would have had to put together an ever-changing patchwork of childcare solutions.”

    These are the two reasons that I did not explore going PT seriously in the early child rearing years when I was more interested in the thought. I have seen this happen to everyone who has gone PT around me. Didn’t seem like a great trade-off.

    I haven’t seen many people pause for years and then come back to the same career. I have seen more people pause and then do something entirely different (like a relative that went back to nursing school in her late 40’s after kids were in middle school). But I know it theoretically can be done.

  15. I paused for 5 years and came back to the same job, but in my very limited area, that’s not surprising. It happened because my employer laid off/retired many people and then had problems they couldn’t solve and I was in a position to bargain for part-time work. (Previous stance had been, “Business conditions don’t support part-time work.)

    Mr WCE and I agreed both of us would not work full-time when our children were small. I was never particularly motivated to rise in my field and chose my position because in a fab that runs 24 hr/day, I can do at least some of my work “whenever.” As I explained to an obstetrician at church, “Whenever I feel like working, the electrons show up.”

  16. If I ever go back to work it would definitely be a pivot situation. No way would I go back to my previous career unless I had to – too boring. I may have been more inclined to stay in the workforce if I had enjoyed my job more, but since I didn’t, I thought I might as well stay home and focus on the kids. And honestly the kids are happier, not necessarily because of me being around, but because they prefer to be home in the afternoons playing in the yard.

  17. “Thanks to upper management’s unintentional decision to gate its U.S. fab capacity with my equipment”

    LOL. A/k/a the WCE Permanent Employment Act?

  18. Does reading this blog count as taking a work pause! You are a distracting lot, particularly when the work I have to do is boring.

  19. LfB, they plan to replace me with a college hire and expect the college hire to be up to speed in a year or two. Last night I found a local company with a job that I am technically qualified for and could learn to do and decided maybe that’s what I’ll do when Baby WCE goes to kindergarten or first grade.

    The other time I got laid off, it was with ~1000 other locals and there was nothing available locally and I had 3 kids under 2.

  20. I was a chemical engineer and worked in the pharmaceutical industry after graduation. I moved to a small university town when I got engaged, (soon-to-be-DH was a tenure-track faculty member) and, while I stayed at the same employer, I was no longer located at the corporate headquarters but instead at a local chemical manufacturing facility (we made the active ingredients for several well-known drugs.) This was the only opportunity locally for me in my field, and I did not particularly care for the work or the setting. I took a hiatus when the first of our children were born, and that turned into a 13 year stint as a SAH mom. During this time, I coached baseball and soccer, volunteered at the school, and got involved (in a small way) in local politics.

    When my youngest was in 4th grade, I got a little antsy and took a PT job at the university as the coordinator for a small, newly-formed administrative office. I worked 10-2 and had summers off. Over the last 10 years that job has morphed into full-time, though still 9 months. The 9-month contract has been a blessing, as my now-tenured DH has a lot of flexibility over the summer and we’re able to take long vacations (especially now that kids are all out of the house.)

    The pay is paltry (I made more as a new graduate, even accounting for inflation, than I do now) but we got used to living on one salary during the many years I was home, so we have been able to channel my entire salary into retirement and college funds. And we live in a very low COL area.

    I never would have predicted I’d be doing what I’m doing, but I love the people I work with, and I never take work home at night. My life is comfortable and my family is happy – not a bad trade-off.

  21. I was laid off when I was pregnant (as I’ve said before) but am still at the same firm where I landed after that. I still feel underpaid (after salary cuts I am still not back to my original salary from 8 years ago!) and I will never make as much as I did in biglaw, but I have the benefits and the flexibility has made great strides in the last couple of years. Particularly after moving, I was worried that ‘they’ would notice and make me come into the office more (at which point I’d have to quit) but instead it seems like they like me more since we moved!

  22. Whole30 – I lost about 8-9 pounds and since then have gained 1-2 back. I found the first week really hard, the next 3 not bad (and I could see the weight loss by week 3) and after that I felt adrift. Members of my family are also on it and simply have kept with it, past the 30 days, with great weight loss success. (They needed (? don’t want to sound judgmental) to lose more weight than I did.) These days I stick with it up until dinner, then go back to my old habits. Easter was/is tough – so many sweets and yummy foods around.

    I plan on going back on it starting this weekend up until a work trip I have in May because I’d like to lose a few more pounds. I feel like I’ve plateaued.

    The amazing thing about the diet is that I did zero additional exercise and I never felt hungry. I got sick of certain foods – eggs – but I was never hungry.

  23. I went back and forth between half and 3/4 time when my kids were being born, then up to 35 hrs/ week, and finally returned to full when my youngest was in early elementary. And of course this whole time I’ve been prioritizing stable hours over career advancement. At this point, I don’t foresee that changing — when my nest starts to empty, I’m going to want to use my new-found time to do things in the evenings, try some of those weeknight special dinners or wine tastings we never go to, do an activity that’s actually my activity and not just me supporting a kid activity, that sort of thing. I’m not going to want to switch jobs to something where I’ll be in the office for longer hours.

  24. I worked full time with a flexible work arrangement until the financial crisis. I generally worked four days in the office, and I worked the fifth day from home. I had to travel a lot, but I was usually able to contain it to 5 – 8 business days a month. I had to ramp back up to five days in the office because it was too hard to be at home. No one told me to do this, but it was easier to vein the office with multiple screens, multiple phone lines, and be present in the conference rooms when we were looking at stuff. the technology is different today and I can see this when my husband works from home in snowstorms. He is able to replicate his desktop including multiple terminals and screens. This was more challenging to do ten years ago.

    I did some project work, and lots of volunteer work. I helped start a company that helps women get back to work. I never shared the name because I didn’t want to out myself, but that company was sold and I am proud of the progress that the new firm is making with employers and women.

    I just agreed to take a new volunteer position that will require even more of my time. I said no when I was initially approached, but I finally decided to do it because I miss being in a leadership position, and I am still not ready to go back to full time work. I miss the paycheck, but I do not miss the hassles. I was with my former colleagues earlier today, and I was very happy to leave when they had to return to the office.

    I currently have no paid work because I decided to focus on planning the bat mitzvah. I know some people love planning parties, but this is really out of my comfort zone. Also, the type of party that we are hosting requires a lot of my time, and I just wanted to be available when I had to be for all of the various meetings. I can’t wait until this day is over even though people keep telling me it will be one of the best days of my life.

  25. I can’t wait until this day is over even though people keep telling me it will be one of the best days of my life.

    I remember feeling that way about my wedding in both a relieved its over and happy to start a new life kind of way.

  26. For me, if I decided to take a pause, as is fully out of the workforce, it would have been impossible to come back in at even close to the rate of pay I made/make. For many in the government sector, being a “new hire” and not a “transfer” generally means you get the low end of the pay grade. It is typical if someone leaves to post the position at the lowest salary and only up it if you can’t fill it. Transfers can usually do a flat lateral change, but often there is a bump up.

  27. I would actually like to ramp up when my kids are close to leaving home. That’s because on some level I would like to travel and I don’t want to feel like I am stuck constantly being responsible for the home front. At that point DH can take a pause, he has expressed an interest in downshifting at some point.

  28. HM – I’d feel exactly the same way. Would not want to ramp up when the kids leave because I just enjoy doing other things. I could see maybe going back to work part time in five years if DH wanted to ramp down a bit but ultimately I want us both to have more of a part time schedule.

    Our good friend of ours in her early 30s who works with DH just ramped down to a goal of 1500 billable hour for this year. She and her DH are uber frugal, have a two year old and she just didn’t want to work as much as she had been. They have a lot of money in the bank, put 50% down on the house they bought last year and she wanted to enjoy life a little more (she’s a runner and they like to travel.)

  29. Luxury makeovers for children’s closets? My kids barely even have closets. Their rooms have those small, super-shallow closets that are often seen in antique houses around here — the ones where you have to hang up clothes sideways, since the closets aren’t deep enough to hang up clothes the normal way.

  30. Hijack. I am going to be in Bloomington ind for a few days for family reasons and expect to have unscheduled time and a rental car. For those of you familiar with the area, suggestions for museums, weird little attractions, Sunday morning brunch would be appreciated.

  31. From experience, I have three pieces of advice, at least for male lawyers and it’s probably mostly true for female lawyers, too.

    1) Do not become a single parent under any circumstance; big law cannot wrap their minds around it and surprisingly (for me, at least), either can small law.

    2) Do not start your own practice. If you are of a certain age, it becomes harder to sustain.

    3) In no event get older, or even be past your late 20’s to mid-thirties to start. You get older. IN NO EVENT GET OLDER. I know I was shouting. Sorry. But don’t do it.

    Ageism is a real problem in the workforce, I’m finding sadly.

  32. I’ve never taken a haitus, but I’ve certainly cut back how much I work in certain years. These days the juggle is more when I work, not how much. Today is a perfect example – stopped work @ 3pm to do school pick up, drive to sports, stop by grocery store, then back at desk by 4:30 to squeeze in another hour, then will stop to make supper. Oldest DS has 2 tests tomorrow, so he’ll sit in my office to study (his favorite place to study), and I’ll do another hour of work then while he studies. It’s a choppy day but it feels like the right balance for this stage of life.

  33. Yeah, Meme, but you’d rather I’d have weighed in on Bloomington! :) I hope you have a good trip.

  34. I stayed home until my youngest was in first grade. I hated working while my children were in the house. My house was not up to my standards, my meals were thrown together, I was running children after school and there was never enough time or any downtime. Of course it got better as each child left the house. I started working part time but I put in more time at home and was constantly answering the phone for questions. The good part about this is my boss did not care how often I was away as I kept everything up to date from the road.

    I am retired and loving it. My home and life run better when I am home. My husband is happier having a full time wife (though he will deny it). I always said I didn’t care if it was the husband or wife who stayed home – life runs better with a stay at home, especially if you have children.

  35. was constantly answering the phone for questions

    Do you mean your kids were calling you at work, or your work was calling you at home?

  36. Bloomington Indiana. The Irish Lion is a bar with yard long beers. Think fancy long glasses not cheap plastic mugs. Little Zagreb’s is the steak place your recruiter would take you for fancy meat. Think tender steak and checked table cloths. Someone with a children’s book Phd asked if I had seen the IU collection. She was visiting it from Japan. I think this is called the Eskenazi Art Museum now. An hour or so south is full of caves. My favorite features an underground boat ride. The area has lots of Geodes. Take SR 37 south out of town and stop at the second or third place the road is cut through the hills. You can take home any geodes you find. At one time, the Dali Lama had kin in town, so the Tibeten center is fairly authentic. Wonderlab is a nice children’s museum (build the molecule you are smelling was my favorite). Oliver Winery is rated highly by people who like wine (Oliver was a tax professional by day). IU is known for performing arts, so the IU auditorium may have something to your taste. Kirkwood Lane is the classic college town bar area. Nick’s is the places you are supposed to go to get a beer and sit down. There may be music in the area to your taste. The campus is beautiful, so you may just park near Kirkwood and walk around.

  37. PTM, what do you mean exactly? Back when I was a young lawyer, many of the clients were much comforted by having a gray haired experienced man in the room. Certainly whatever he said was received with greater docility than what the kids contributed.
    Tech was not an issue then – I used to show partners how the fax machine or copier worked when we were both in the office on the weekend, but there was no opportunity to dazzle one’s superiors with brilliant command of the latest gadgets and platforms.
    Many of the attorneys I worked with are still at the same firm 20+ years later, though of course they have hired a lot of new young people too.

    OTOH, I had a brief “interview” with the child running a new law school tax clinic, whose response to my mention of the year I passed the DC bar was “that was before I was born.” Perhaps that was the sort of thing you meant?

  38. The closets from California Closets in that link posted are similar to what we have at our house. It helps us keep our things organized and confined to the closet space allotted. The walk in closet with the light fixture is fancier than what we have but ours is an older home and I can definitely see the newer homes in our area having those set ups.

  39. Louise, do you mean yours is anywhere close to that size? The closet pictured is around the same size as our bedroom or a bit larger.

  40. honolulumother – it was my boss calling and since I had a lot of freedom as to when and where I worked I always answered.

  41. HM – I am not referring to the second picture Rhett posted (the one like a room), rather I am referring to the link he posted first.

  42. Scarlett, I’ve found that law firms don’t want older lawyers hanging around unless they are major rainmakers. Major.

    Even at firms like Cravath, there is sort of a bell curve in salary. Cravath’s lock step (albeit unusual) pay formula maxed out for partners in their prime years and got less and less in one’s more mature years starting in their 50s.

    Most lawyers I know who are around my age and are not mega-rainmakers are retired, tinkering around the sides with law or doing something else. Forget about getting a new job from your early to mid fifties on. My guess is the same works in other businesses, probably in the C-suites, too.

  43. After my first child was born I slowed down at work. Stilling working 40 hours, but moving up the chain was not on my radar at all. At first it was just about trying to survive with a small child. Then the second came along and I was just trying to survive with two kids, and a medical diagnosis. Since then I’ve just been punching numbers and getting by. But, early this year I decided I needed more challenges, and an opportunity for advancement opened up and took it. To be honest, if it wasn’t for this blog I probably wouldn’t have gone for it, but I’ve gained a lot of juggling knowledge and overall confidence, and figured I needed to give it a shot. So far, it is more mentally challenging, yet I’m actually putting in less hours in the evening. I probably should have done this move a few years earlier.

  44. PTM, maybe it is regional? We have a TON of older partners. Our long-time managing partner was still FT when he died at age 77 2 years ago. They just brought in a new guy and he is yet another 62-yo white dude like all the others.

  45. Oh, also – I have never taken a full pause, but I was off for 6 months between the 2 jobs when #1 was born. The other times I took 12 weeks. I have been 80% since then and wouldn’t want to do any more until the kids leave the house, maybe not even then. I treasure my one morning a week when they are all in school!

  46. But L, were those partners there all along? And the new guy, did he bring a sizable book of business?

  47. Most of the old guys have been there for a long time, but we have hired several in the past few years who are old IME. :) No idea about their books – I have no visibility into that kind of thing.

  48. My old firm would bring on experienced attorneys from Treasury or other government stints. They were rainmakers of a sort — not coming in with a portfolio but well known among tax types and so expected to attract clients after they arrived.
    Some of the older guys (no women yet) who are still hanging around are Of Counsel status either explicitly or implicitly.
    Maybe it’s different in a boutique practice where your value increases as you age because you have the most experience in arcane tax areas. The rainmakers were also the ones who did the actual work on those projects. The other factor is that a lot of these guys truly enjoyed their work and their colleagues.

  49. Much like LfB’s very first comment, I think things have changed dramatically for the better since I started working twenty five years ago. Back then, working late always meant IN the office. I had nights I had to go get my DS from daycare and come back to work, hoping he would sleep on my lap while I worked in my cube. Technology has certainly made it possible for most of us to find ways to manage our work into our life in a completely different way.

    I never took a career pause or even slowed down, due to both fear – I was never able to work just hard enough, I always had to go full out to make sure I never had any regrets – and because my DH was ill and eventually had to stop working. The good news is that it has all been rewarded, but honestly I know that my family paid a price. I am envious of those of you that had the courage to do what made sense for your family. I “needed” to be successful in a way that is probably not healthy. I never considered jumping off the senior management track.

  50. We have quite a few people in our organization who have been with the company for a good part of their professional lives. Those who are lucky to escape displacement and move to different positions in the nick of time are able to retire when they see fit. Just yesterday I saw a retirement announcement for a highly respected senior manager. It said he was going to work on his golf game. I thought to myself here is this guy who looks to be in great shape, still presumably with a lot to contribute – I just don’t see him full time on the golf course.

  51. Oh, I am sure behind the scenes, there are possibly suggestions that people who have had a good run retire, in order to give the next generation an opportunity to contribute.

  52. I echo Lemon’s sentiment on encouragement from this blog. I went for a position in a different part of the company. I found that the hardest part was a perceived sense of difficulty and a higher barrier to getting in but once I got in I realized that the job itself was fine and had fewer deadlines. The higher level manager also has a more laid back personality, delegates more, than the top level manager in my previous group, this makes a big difference in the level of stress that permeates a group. I do have to go into the office because of the group norm, but I can manage around that.

  53. My DH is in his 50s, but he thinks that having a tween in his house helps him seem younger in the office. For example, he is discussing whether to allow your tween to watch 13 Reasons Why instead of college admissions. Most of the people in his office with younger kids are in their 30s and 40s, so that his “peer” group when they discuss their kids before a meeting starts. He met with the head of a major cable company last week, and the CEO turned to him to ask about the viewing habits of DD and her friends.

    It also helps that he looks younger, and never celebrates any major bdays/milestones in the office.

  54. Go Lemon! Sunshine, you did what your family needed you to do. What price would they have paid had you not done all that with your husband ill? You sound pretty badass to me – your kids will see that too!

  55. I have always worked full-time. When the kids were younger being in the office versus taking care of two kids under two seemed easier – at least physically – and I enjoyed having some time with other adults. Now that they are both in school, I wouldn’t mind being home full time as I enjoy taking care of house stuff and it would give me more time and flexibility to get errands, meals, and all the other things done. DH isn’t interested in being the sole breadwinner so that I can basically retire, and right now the income trade offs for me to stay at home don’t make sense.

    I feel like I’m taking an unofficial pause in my job though. I have a great position in terms of work/life balance. I am probably a few levels below where I’ll max out talent wise (peter principle). There was an article that came out a year or so ago that talked about how men and women handle work/life issues in a consulting firm. My biggest takeaway from it was that men took flexibility and asked for forgiveness, if necessary, and women usually asked for permission first. I now take the flexibility that I want. I work from home when I feel like it, and I’m pretty much only in the office from 8:45-4:15 most days. I still get my job done at a very high level, and I’m really fortunate that I have a boss who measures work product and not butt-in-seat time. My personal goal is to try to get my job done in the fewest hours possible a week. I used to feel guilty about not being “productive” for 40 hours a week, but I don’t any more. I’m killing it in terms of Rhett’s metric of effort-per-unit. Now, I’m being given more work to do because my boss trusts me to get it done versus giving it to others on our team at my level and one level above me. I won’t get more compensation or a promotion for taking more on, so it is reducing some of the work/life benefits of my job. I’m starting to wonder if I need to start looking for the next promotion before it becomes too late for me to move up, although I’m not sure if moving up is worth the trade-off in terms of effort per unit.

  56. 1000+ to what Moxie sad, Sunshine.

    A brief hijack. If you are looking for a new dinner idea, my family cannot get enough shrimp tacos these days.

    – Wrap some tortillas – flour or corn – in aluminim foil and put them in a hot oven to warm. They should only be in there about 10 minutes. Alternatively if you are using corn you could warm them up right on the stove top.

    – Peel and devein the shrimp (or buy them that way). Rinse them off, the toss them with taco seasoning. I use about 1 tablespoon for every pound of shrimp. Set them aside for a few minutes.

    – Take shredded cabbage (or a “coleslaw” mix bag from your grocery store if you can find a good one, that seems to be hit or miss around here). Purple cabbage is key here because it’s so crunchy. Toss with avocado ranch dressing. The one I like is sold in the refrigerator section of the produce aisle, by the guacamole and baby carrots. Set aside.

    – Slice some radishes paper thin so they are almost translucent.

    – Heat up a non-stick grill pan or saute pan. Make it pretty hot. Spray or brush with olive oil. Cook the shrimp about a minute each side. Ideally they’ll really sear. Try not to over cook them.

    – Fill your tortillas with cabbage, then radishes, then shrimp (about 4 shrimp per taco). Squeeze some fresh lime over them.

    – Inhale.

  57. I think that high level law firms with niche practices operate a bit differently, but as they get larger and more international they are becoming more like accounting and consulting firms with mandatory retirement but side methods to retain desirable older specialists. I saw a Trust and Estate classmate from Big Boston firm at an alumni event recently, and he was forced to retire from the law firm. but they asked him to head up their new investment advisory/trust administration walled off offshoot company. There are almost always ways to keep working as an independent consultant if you have niche expertise, but not easily in the corporate or big partnership structure. Late family formation, even without unexpected single parenthood, means that many people hope to work in the traditional workforce until 70 because of family corporate provided health insurance, tuition payments, maybe a mortgage on the larger home in a good school district, ability for the spouse to retire early to ferry the kids around and keep house, etc. The reality is that age discrimination often shoves out of the structured workforce at 55-60 those who are not niche specialists or who don’t have an established business of their own, even in our privileged cohort.

  58. Also, if you are doing low-carb, just leave aside the tortilla and do it as a shrimp taco salad.

  59. So the lesson is be prepared to not need the income by your mid-50s. DH’s law firm has a few attorneys that must be in their 60s that still seem to have a lot of business. I think the mandatory retirement age is 65 but I could be wrong. The head partner on DH’s team is in his mid-50s I think and I’m not sure why he’s still working other than I think he likes all of the travel and he feels responsible for his team.

  60. and I’m not sure why he’s still working

    I think the real lesson is find a job you’re truly interested in, develop an expertise others don’t have, and be in a position where you’re delighted to be working in your 50’s.

    Also off topic: Rhett, I looooove boardingarea.com. Thanks for giving me another way to dither when working on boring projects.

  61. I think the benefit of being in a niche practice is that you have more flexibility to evaluate people individually vs. having hard-and-fast rules. We are dealing with this issue right now in spades; the few original founders of the firm retired/left/passed probably 5-15 years ago, but now the second-generation partners (the guys who were hired as associates by the founders) are generally somewhere between 60-75. So there is definitely a generational perception issue with young, hungry lawyers who are working their asses off and getting pissed at the guy who is basically golfing his way into semi-retirement without actually taking a paycut. We re-did our comp system this past year to “encourage” (i.e., de-stigmatize) people to move down the ladder when their numbers don’t support it.

    That said, it would be a huge, huge mistake to basically boot people or force them out at a given age. Yes, there are a few guys who are sort of coasting on their origination, which is frustrating, because by this time there are many other, younger attorneys who have built relationships with these clients, so if the older guys left, it’s not like the client would walk. But there are many, many more who are still actively out there busting it to build the firm and grow the practices for the next generation. My mentor decided to kick back about 5 years or so ago, but then he reversed course, and now he’s back on the Management Committee and very, very serious about making sure that his baby is going to survive and thrive into future generations.

    We need these guys not just for their client relationships and regulatory expertise, but for their experience in running the firm and managing all of the issues that arise and knowing what it takes to keep things moving in the right direction. They are, first and foremost, role models — the “wise elders” that the younger generation needs to rely on as they take on the load of managing the firm and all of its attendant issues. But that also means they need to keep practicing and stay on the ladder vs. being pushed into some sidelined position — because in the world of law firms, the respect and authority accorded to you tend to be directly correlated to the size and importance of your book. Not necessarily in a bad way; it’s more that having a big book of business demonstrates that you are smart and know what it takes to build and maintain a practice — you know whereof you speak.

  62. ” Forget about getting a new job from your early to mid fifties on. My guess is the same works in other businesses, probably in the C-suites, too.”

    I think this is true in general. I worry about this quite a bit. I don’t want to be in a position in my 50’s where I absolutely need the type of job I have now to pay the bills. I’ve seen more mid-to-senior level people in that position work as consultants within their industry than anything else. It’s probably worse for more junior people. No one wants to hire a 55 year old Staff Accountant. Everyone wants a new grad.

  63. I think the economics of law firms changed after the Great Recession to be even more of a business (just looking through the lens of DH’s southern based firm). It’s extremely tough to make equity partner and it’s more of a 10-12 year process instead of a traditional 7 year process. If you’re profitable you stay and they do look at that profitability over a few years, but if you’re not producing after three or four years you’ll be asked to leave (which was just not done very often at Dh’s law firm before the recession). On the plus side, there is very little up or out as long as you’re profitable.

  64. The head partner/rainmaker on Dh’s team is always in a bad mood when they get really busy. But I get it, who wants to be staying up late and taking calls on the weekends at that point when you’re already a millionaire many times over. Dh doesn’t want to stay at work past midnight anymore either at age 40.

  65. My biggest takeaway from it was that men took flexibility and asked for forgiveness, if necessary, and women usually asked for permission first.

    This is a lesson I’ve been trying to teach my kids. A great example: when I was getting my NP school, I set up my pediatric rotation at a Denver Health school clinic. I mentioned this to one of my classmates, and she said that she found a preceptor at one of those clinics as well, and our program director told her she couldn’t do it, so she had to scramble to find something else. I didn’t mention it to the PD and just set it up, and by the time she found out, it was too far into the semester so she had no choice but to let me do it. I also did it with my final rotation, with an NP who does nursing home rounding. The PD said she didn’t like it because you don’t see enough patients, but again, it was too late to find something else.

  66. @tcmama – I feel like I was in a somewhat similar position a couple of years ago. I ended up taking on a bigger role without promotion or $ which within 6 months led to me being offered a promotion to a different area with a much bigger title. I was really apprehensive about it because that group had a reputation for working long hours and being chaotic. After a bit of soul-searching, I decided that I had to take the chance. At first there was a steep learning curve, but now.I am back to the same kind of balance I was in before. Turns out that the person I replaced was the source of the chaos more than the job itself. There are times when I have to work extended hours, but there are also days that I have plenty of time/flexibility. The cost per unit effort is better than my old job as the effort is about the same but the salary is higher.

    I would say that reading this blog regularly is one of the pushes that I needed to take the chance. I thought about all the discussions here, and it calmed me that it wasn’t a lifetime decision and also that I should go for it and take the money vs. being meek and marking myself as “unambitious” by not going for it.

  67. @Ivy – good points. The stuff I’m working on now could lead to something better. I’m also going to be more of a squeaky wheel and laying the groundwork for a promotion, which typically are only given out annually. DH is trying to figure out his next career move, so I’m waiting to see how that turns out.

  68. The Rhett Metric is a very valuable tool to have when thinking about your next career move.

  69. @Sunshine, one more thing if you are here. Somewhere there is a stay at home mom who did every bake sale, every PTA meeting, every concert and made every costume who is wondering if she modeled enough ambition for her kids. There will always be something to regret. Everyone just does their best and that is more than good enough.

  70. Does anyone think age discrimination will become illegal in the same way other types of raw discrimination (religion, race, sex, orientation, veteran status) have become illegal?

  71. Meme, good point- do you think laws that the law will ever be effectively enforced, i.e. require companies to consider people with at least 5 years of experience instead of “5-10 years experience” and that government contractors will be evaluated on their workforce diversity in *hiring* by age instead of only by race, sex, etc?

    I remember reading a blog post by someone in a large tech company HR department that said only 1 in 10,000 people hired at large tech company was over 50 or 55.

  72. Partnerships are able to have mandatory retirement or other ways to force an exit, So can jobs that are deemed to require physical fitness and can have minimum physical requirements. In most other situations and for most knowledge jobs it is easy to incentivize retirement or failing that simply to restructure folks out of a job. Discrimination in hiring is virtually impossible to prove.

  73. To answer your question, even a Social Democrat type administration is not likely to impose that sort of blanket statistical test for age diversity. It is only a high tech vendor that could fail, anyway. The age floor for egregious labor violations is something like 45. There are always sufficient supervisors, administrators and managers to meet the quota.

  74. Meme, that’s why I suggested a statistical test for hiring, not one that applies only to layoffs.

    The types of discrimination that should be legal vs. illegal (and for what jobs) is a tough one to answer, and the ability to enforce discrimination law is limited, for better or worse.

  75. @Lark – I just added those shrimp tacos to my meal plan for next week. That sounds delicious & a change from our usual. I think I have a bag of frozen shrimp in the freezer to use up too.

  76. I meant to add – I have been craving fish tacos, but I like to do them grilled and the weather doesn’t look great here. But the shrimp tacos…that’s a good weeknight meal that will get my fix. And DS likes shrimp more than fish, so win-win.

  77. The types of discrimination that should be legal vs. illegal (and for what jobs) is a tough one to answer,

    Really? It seems pretty simple to me that all discrimination should be illegal and hiring should be based solely on the person’s ability to do the job.

  78. One of my former bosses (who I like) told me at lunch one day that he’d hire me back in a minute, “if I could get my kid-care thing worked out”, but for the fact that he can’t ask me to work all nighters any more. Was this ageism? Sure, probably. Was he right? Yeah. I don’t do all nighters anymore. I like him, and I actually like his honesty and he happily found a vibrant 36 year old woman for the position. I lose a lot of jobs to vibrant 36 year old women. Not any so far to any vibrant 36 year old males.

    In the case of employers generally, it makes sense to move older, more expensive folks out to create space for generally less expensive, eager young folks with much to prove.

    The simple fact is that unless you have an incredible portfolio (retiring senator, say), and need or want to work, you simply cannot grow older.

  79. “hiring should be based solely on the person’s ability to do the job.”

    That’s one form of discrimination, albeit one that most folks probably think is reasonable and rational.

  80. Re: discrimination: [warning: lawyer tangent ahead, because I am bored AF today]

    1. “Discrimination” per se is not illegal. You may legitimately discriminate against someone for not having the qualifications necessary to do the job, or for not being as qualified as someone else, etc. You may also stupidly discriminate against people for ridiculous reasons. You can refuse to hire me because I have blue eyes. Stupid, but perfectly legal.

    2. We as a society have made the decision that certain types of discrimination should be illegal. This is largely focused on (i) immutable characteristics (those that cannot be changed, e.g., race), and (ii) characteristics that may not technically be immutable but that we don’t think is fair to force people to change based on other constitutional concerns (e.g., religion). Age is one of these immutable characteristics; it is not expressly protected under the Constitution like race, but there are various statutes that affirm that it is illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of age.

    [Side note: this also explains the changing view of homosexuality — it was not protected when the overwhelming view was that people were “choosing” to behave in a “deviant” way; but as the science came along to support the notion that people are basically born the way they are, the courts’ view as to whether it should be protected also changed. Unless you are a Strict Constructionist and believe that only those classes of people and rights that are specifically listed in the Constitution merit protection. I am not.]

    3. The problem comes in the implementation — the “how do you prove it.”

    a. The courts apply different levels of scrutiny to different types of discrimination — which is, basically, how much the court will delve in and second-guess the decision, vs. defer to the judgment and rationale of the person supporting the action. So racial discrimination gets strict scrutiny: it is basically presumed that there is no legitimate basis for a flat-out racial bar, and so any discriminatory law or action generally gets tossed until the proponent can whip out a really strong and legitimate basis for it. OTOH, gender discrimination is sort of in-between, because there might be a legitimate basis in some areas and not in others. Things like age discrimination get the lowest kind of scrutiny — we don’t necessarily have a well-documented history of screwing people over because they got old in the same way we do for minorities and women, and there are more likely to be legitimate reasons to discriminate (strength/fitness, higher salaries, etc.).

    Note: one of the tendencies of the Supreme Court over the past several decades is to find reasons to move away from stricter forms of scrutiny and defer more toward the rational judgment of the decisionmakers. [Note that I am not agreeing any individual judgment is rational — just saying that if the court finds it is rational, they are more likely to defer to it than they used to be. Who knows if this may change, given Gorsuch’s inclination not to defer as much to agency decisions. Then the real question about deference seems to be “to whom” more than “what” — people who defer to the decision of federal agencies don’t tend to defer to the decisions of companies, and vice-versa.]

    b. The level of scrutiny plays into the degree and type of proof required to prove a claim. If you are a minority, the burden is basically on the other guy to prove they didn’t screw you over. If you are old, the burden is basically on you to prove that the other guy had no legitimate reason to do whatever he did. And because being older is correlated with many legitimate reasons to discriminate — most particularly, that people with 30 years’ of experience tend to make more than people with 3 years’ of experience — it is very, very hard to prove this kind of case.

    c. There has also been a change in the kinds of cases that are brought. The first discrimination cases generally dealt with laws and regulations that were discriminatory on their face. So the fact that there *was* discrimination was basically unavoidable, and everyone was just arguing about whether it was justifiable. However, people are smart — even evil, discriminatory people — and so now the vast majority of people know not to say really dumb-ass things like “I’d never hire a black guy.” So now you have lawsuits over specific individual actions — e.g., employment terminations — where the discrimination is not so apparent, and so you have a much heavier burden of proving that it happened at all. You can of course still prove discrimination if you have emails or whatever supporting your claim. But given that most people know to avoid this, you can also prove it via circumstantial evidence. This is where things like “disparate impact” come in — that is a concept that was again developed as a challenge to laws (when legislatures learned to write laws that targeted Blacks without specifically saying they were targeting Blacks), but it basically turns things around and says, well, even if XXX doesn’t specifically *say* they are excluding Blacks/women/old people/whatever, if the result of the action is that all Blacks/women/old people/whatever are excluded, it’s still discrimination.

    And then this is where you get into causation/correlation — there are questions about whether you actually need to prove discrimination (i.e., use the disparate impact to demonstrate that intentional discrimination occurred), or whether a disparate impact itself is sufficient even if that alone doesn’t prove an intent to discriminate. Again, the higher up you are on the food chain of Constitutional protections, the lower the demands (although again, the more conservative courts have largely gone back to the “still have to prove intentional discrimination”). But even beyond this, it gets muddied because you may have a pattern that shows a clear disparate impact, but because of the correlation between the “prohibited” and “approved” factors, it is hard to prove that the disparate impact is the result of discrimination or legit considerations.

    This last category is where most age discrimination lawsuits fall. Almost every company has layoffs that hit older workers much harder than younger ones. But these layoffs also hit highly-compensated workers much harder than lower-comp ones. And because you can legitimately target higher-comp workers, and because these kinds of cases get a low level of scrutiny to start with, the end result is that it is very, very difficult to win an age discrimination lawsuit, unless you happen to be one of the few with a red hot email in hand where your boss says sure, you can still do the job, and the salary is reasonable, but they need to fire you because you’re old.

    Note that this is also why seniority is such a big deal under union rules — they specifically write the rules to require layoffs based on factors like “last hired” to protect the older workers who would otherwise be the easy target.

  81. You can refuse to hire me because I have blue eyes. Stupid, but perfectly legal.

    Not if it’s a proxy for race / ethnicity, though, which it could be. A better example might be refusal to hire because you’re a vegan, or because you play in a punk band, or because you’re a Yalie.

  82. “So racial discrimination gets strict scrutiny”
    Yeah, you’d think so, until you look at all the studies about employers, realtors, banks, etc rating the candidate with the “black” sounding name lower than the one with the identical application and a name that sounds “white”.
    In other words, ” If you are a minority, the burden is basically on the other guy to prove they didn’t screw you over.” Hahaha.
    Your point c sounds like the reasoning behind at least one of the decisions to stop a Trumpian not-a-Muslim-ban that was a thinly veiled Muslim ban.

  83. Saac, I think one of the flaws in studies with racial sounding names is that they don’t matrix upper class white names, upper class black names, lower class white names and lower class black names to separate race effects from class effects. A black named Cyril deGrasse Tyson (father of astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson) would probably fare pretty well in employment screening. For white girls, you probably imagine something different with “Candy” or “Nevaeh” than with “Madeline” or “Elizabeth.”

    LfB, thanks for the explanation of immutable characteristics and discrimination law. My paragraph to Saac made me think about social class and to what extent it is or is not immutable.

  84. Saac, I wouldn’t throw out the whole thing. I’d look at counties like mine, where incoming Black kindergarteners have school readiness scores that exceed those of incoming white, Hispanic and usually Asian kindergarteners, and where the police assume a Black person they stop is a professional, and ask, “Why are these communities different than the U.S. average?”

    I don’t think activism/accusations of racism are very good ways to tease out the current effects of racism, the ongoing cultural effects of slavery (which affect African Americans but not African immigrants and so can be studied at some level) and the behavioral differences (multipartner fertiilty, single parenthood, saving for/valuing education) among racial/cultural groups.

  85. Saac, I think one of the flaws in studies with racial sounding names is that they don’t matrix upper class white names, upper class black names, lower class white names and lower class black names to separate race effects from class effects. A black named Cyril deGrasse Tyson (father of astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson) would probably fare pretty well in employment screening.

    WCE, that completely misses the point. The point of those studies is the that black-sounding names get screened out, not that black people are screened out, because the test screeners have no idea if the (fictional) applicant is black or white, they are only looking at resumes. Cyril deGrasse Tyson is not a black sounding name, so of course it wouldn’t get screened out the same way a Jamaal or Lakesha would.

    And what exactly is an “upper class black name”?

  86. Cyril deGrasse Tyson is black and has what I would consider an “upper class sounding” black name. My point is that the upper class Black people I know (and I admittedly know few) don’t choose lower class Black names for their children.

    You and the researchers are convolving “Black sounding name” with “lower class Black sounding name.”

  87. Another way researchers could approach the problem of separating race effects from class effects could be to use stereotypically black names and randomly assign them to a high dropout high schools or a UMC/elite private high school.

  88. WCE, if you know that some black kindergarteners in your area may be more prepared than some white kids, then do you also know what happens later in life? Are they accepted to similar universities, and what kinds of work do they find? Your last paragraph confuses cause and effect. Major reasons for single parenthood (and then taking a new partner) include imprisonment, which is much more likely to be levied against black people than white people who have committed the same or greater offenses (look it up; I’d be calling you stupid if I said you’d have a hard time finding good studies). Savings rates, as discussed on here previously, have a lot to do with one’s historically-based expectations for the future. Note also that wealth and income rates for black people can be lower than for white people with exactly the same qualifications. In other words, you need to step back and consider systemic racism, not simply personal animosity. There are many sources available. If you want me to send you a few articles, maybe a dozen or so, I will, but the information is there if you will step away from the racist assumptions.

  89. WCE, I had no idea Cyril deGrasse Tyson was black because I had never heard of him until your post, and Cyril is much more of a white name than a black name, IMO. Which is pretty much the point – what you are referring to as “upper class black names” are “neutral” or white names, they aren’t generally considered to be black names.

    As for the class effects, the researchers did remove them from the studies. They gave the reviewers identical resumes with only the names different. The resumes had the exact same colleges listed and the exact same job histories. How is that not removing class effects? They didn’t have the black-sounding applicants with addresses in the hood or otherwise flag them as being from lower class areas.

  90. Black and Hispanic kids in my community often have top 1% test scores, several AP classes and go to better-ranked universities and/or with better financial aid packages than their white and Asian counterparts. I think people who want to see racism everywhere choose to ignore the many successful kids who are also underrepresented minorities- which doesn’t mean the studies are false, just that in the same way we look at charter schools that are very successful, why not look at communities in which underrepresented minorities are very successful?

  91. slate.com/articles/business/the_dismal_science/2005/04/a_roshanda_by_any_other_name.html
    This paper by Steve Levitt (white) and Roland Fryer (black) and discussed in Freakenomics, suggests that having a uniquely black sounding name is correlated with coming from a low socioeconomic background. It was based on a huge dataset of California births, and, unlike the studies on resumes (which were based on surveys), this one was able to follow actual life outcomes.

  92. Our last name (changed from the Polish by a great grandfather) is equivalent to Jefferson in being common among African Americans. My elder daughter’s name is unusual, but King James spelling from the old testament, so if you google her you get 18th century genealogies. However, if you drop one letter for a variant spelling, she is without a doubt African American. This has happened to her numerous times, sometimes humorous, sometimes not. If you couple that same variant spelling with the original Polish last name, she is without a doubt an East European joy girl with a website. Highly educated African Americans also often give their children tribute names to actual ancestors or African culture. There is a stage of assimilation or “passing” that apes dominant culture, as was true in many ethnic groups with the choice of first names given to children and changes to surname. But then the next generation often goes back to the roots.

    However, I do agree that a profiling study of resumes, online grading, or other profiling would do well to include resumes with a range of traditionally black names say from Augustus Washington to Malik Rashad, and white names from Charles “Trey” Hamilton III to Billy Bob Davis to see whether the hiring screeners are basing their distinction on class or race.

  93. “Black and Hispanic kids in my community often have top 1% test scores, several AP classes and go to better-ranked universities and/or with better financial aid packages than their white and Asian counterparts.”

    Black and Hispanic kids with that kind of qualifications are the pool from which nearly all the “got into all Ivies” kids come. Top colleges will compete very aggressively for those kids.

  94. Finn, do you know where to find estimated cutoffs for my state in this year’s National Hispanic Scholar Program or when they come out? I’ve searched unsuccessfully.

  95. WCE, long answer short, no. I don’t know much about the NHRP, and while there are threads on CC about this, I didn’t see anything that looked anywhere near definitive.

    It appears that the cutoffs are by region, not state, and that for the 2016 takers of the PSAT/NMSQT, the cutoff was based on the overall score, which has a max of 1520 , while last year it was based on the index score, which had a max of 228.

    Some threads that discuss this:




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