On the fundamental inequality of the sexes

by WCE

I’ve never found a Fertility and Sterility medical journal article that seemed appropriate for The Totebag, but this article on the tradeoffs of healthy pregnancy/babies as a function of maternal age and career choices seems ripe for a Totebaggy discussion. I am somewhat vocal on the blog about my view that male/female career/social equality is difficult or impossible, and this article is a good summary of the statistical reasons.

Do you think people (men and women) should think about these facts when planning their lives? Do you think both sexes will?

If the link doesn’t work and you care, the article may be available from your library login.

Reproduction at an advanced maternal age and maternal health by Mark Sauer 

For those not interested in/unable to access the whole article, the summary paragraph is this.

It is difficult to publically challenge convention, and it seems that these days it is politically correct to portray women enjoying the best of both worlds when it comes to family and work. However, if this is achieved by delaying pregnancy then the risk of complicated pregnancy, infertility, and childlessness must also be understood and accepted. The goal should be to promote earlier efforts at procreation, while condemning myths suggesting “you can have it all” by delaying reproduction until a time that it is convenient. Starting a family is never convenient and it never has been. A social re-engineering back to a more conventional time may be difficult, if not impossible to do, but a failure to do so will result in increasing numbers of women left childless and without adequate medical interventions to reconcile their needs. To succeed in this endeavor doctors will need to enlist the support of partners in all aspects of life: educators, employers, lawyers, theologians, and legislators. Finally, accurately portraying the difficulties faced by both older patients attempting pregnancy and those who are experiencing it is long overdue. Realistic characterization should not scare patients away from trying to have children but rather serve as a warning of the perils of postponement and be sobering reminders that all stages of life are fleeting and pregnancy is still best accomplished while young.

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Boyz to Men

by Louise

My experience prior to having a boy has been around girls and women. I had male cousins but still women dominated. Then, I became the mother of a boy. It was a different experience. There is lots of energy that has to be channeled or burnt off.

Band Aids fly out of the medicine cabinet. The learning process is different. The color blue was with us for many years. Now, it is a gradual transition from a boy to a man. Socks, shoes and athletic wear are a riot of colors. The brighter the better. Unkept hair is giving way to a more groomed look. The one male teacher is the leader of the pack.

What are your experiences around boys and boyhood? How about the transition from a boy to a man? Three cheers for boyhood!

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”.