The Career, Family and Double Standards



In an episode of BET's hit series, Being Mary Jane, Mary Jane's producer, Kara Lynch, breaks down in tears as she tries to balance her work life and home life without appearing to be a bad mother. In this episode, Kara's ex-husband asks for full custody of her children, due to her lack of presence in their lives. Kara struggles with this because although she deeply loves her children, she loves her career just as much. She feels extreme guilt about wanting to be at work, often, more than she wanted to be at her children's affairs.

Growing Career and Raising Families

A Pew Research Center survey finds that the public remains of two minds about the gains mothers have made in the workplace – most recognize the clear economic benefits to families, but many voice concerns about the toll that having a working mother may take on children or even marriage. About three-quarters of adults (74%) say the increasing number of women working for pay has made it harder for parents to raise children, and half say that it has made marriages harder to succeed. At the same time, two-thirds say it has made it easier for families to live comfortably.

According to this recent Pew Research survey, although working womenhave greatly increased the financial gain of their families, most feel that the lack of presence at home causes friction in the children's development and in marriages. Today,  many women are excelling in their careers and balancing their home life and they make it look easy. I am not a mother myself, but I know raising children and having a career are not easy tasks. It is fascinating that with all the strides working mothers have made in our society when it boils down to making a choice between career and family, the public perception is that women must always choose child-rearing, or they will be scrutinized.

Here we are again, facing yet another double standard when compared to men. I understand that it is a woman's nature to want to nurture and protect her family, and I do believe that by design, men and women have different characteristics that equip each of us with the necessary tools for survival. My problem is the perception that women who are not interested in raising or even having children for that matter, are seen as taboo or less than a woman. Would Oprah be as highly respected had she not informally adopted and helped raise some of the girls from the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy? I mean, she has faced so much scrutiny over the years for not being married and for being successful, but she has made no qualms about it.

When will we as a society stop putting women into these neatly wrapped boxes as if we are not the vessels through which all life must come?