COVID-19 vs. Your Career

I’m witnessing mom friends try to balance work during this crisis, with their husbands leaving all the child care/feeding/schooling to them. The justification? He earns more. It’s downright infuriating to see the men my friends love harming their wives’ careers. That's some fair-weather feminism.

And then, I saw this clip of Gavin Newsom thanking moms for their labor during school closures. Here's the transcript:

Let me just express deep respect and empathy, and particularly for mothers. And let me just say this openly: I try to do my part as a parent, but my wife does a heroic amount of work. And the pressure that we have placed now, additional pressure on caregivers and parents, particularly women and moms, is extraordinary. Moms are already carrying a disproportionate amount of weight in terms of managing the household. Moms are also working and many of them are teachers themselves that are having to provide distance learning, having to cope with all the stress and anxiety, looking out for all of their kids they love dearly, and making sure they're taking care of their own kids and their childcare needs and the like. And again, there's a gender reality connected to this and I just want to go deeply to express an appreciation to all of the moms, all those teachers, all those caregivers. I know how stressful this is, trust me, I know. And I know what we're asking of you over the course of the next few months.

Let's put aside the bizarre emphasis on women as teachers, and focus on the fact that at no point does he say ”Hey dads! YOU can absolutely feed and school your kids, and if you're not, you need to start!” What moms need most right now is not appreciation, it’s for partners to step up, and for the government not to throw our careers under the bus. Thanking us for heroic (read: not meant to ever be paid) work isn't nearly as feminist as enacting structural change such that we can focus equally on paid work.

To learn more about equitably distributing unpaid labor and protecting women's careers during the pandemic, see:

  • The Coronavirus Is a Disaster for Feminism—Helen Lewis (@helenlewis) for The Atlantic

    For too long, politicians have assumed that child care and elderly care can be “soaked up” by private citizens—mostly women—effectively providing a huge subsidy to the paid economy. This pandemic should remind us of the true scale of that distortion.

  • Women's domestic burden just got heavier with the coronavirus—Lucia Graves (@lucia_graves) for The Guardian

    “We can try to do the right things individually but we really need government leadership at a time like this,” Kohler said, ticking down a list of US policy solutions that would help support women caregivers like paid family leave, paid sick leave and other family-focused social programs she would like to see enacted.

  • Everyone Is Home Right Now, But Who’s Doing All the “Home” Work?—Eve Rodsky (@eve_rodsky) for Harper’s Bazaar

    One Google engineer and father said to me, “For too long, men and society have ignored ‘home’ as a variable in our work-life equation. If I left out an important variable when I code, the system would crash. And the system has crashed. It’s time for a reset.”

  • As social distancing timelines increase, working mothers are becoming collateral damage
    —Sarah Lacy (@sarahcuda) for Uterus Is a Feature Not a Bug

    Partners who haven't stepped up, have to step up. Those stepping up need to ask themselves if they can do more. And employers need to realize that if they don't cut this incredibly dedicated and productive demographic of the American workforce a tiny bit of slack, we will all suffer in ways that are hard to calculate. Both economic and human.

  • Career & Family Strategy While Managing Care Disruptions Due To COVID-19—WRK/360 LLC

    The crisis around COVID-19 and the direction to limit interactions in order to flatten the curve and reduce exposures is a significant disruption to our daily lives and is forcing everyone make changes to the way we manage the day-to-day juggle of work and kids. This guide was created to help you consider your options for managing the juggle of work and care.

edited 4/6/2020 to add:

  • Your Husband's Job Is Not More Important Than Yours—Jules Barrueco (@JulesBarrueco) for InStyle

    There's an excellent chance he's not quite as important as he thinks he is. And there's an excellent chance you are more important than you admit to yourself, and that taking this step to protect your job — to protect your long-term career — is a lot more important than you think it is.