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Great Expectations for a Feminist Workplace

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I went to Heidi Hartmann's lecture after class last Tuesday, and she made some similar arguments to the ones she makes in Family First about women in the workplace, advocating for paid family leave, subsidized childcare, and greater work flexibility, for example. These are ideas are as radical as she got. They advocate for very different changes to the current structures of most jobs (and, certainly, expectations of jobs) in the U.S., but Hartmann is still supporting the same structure that is currently in place. Really, most of the changes she proposes are some tweaks that will raise the U.S. up to the same standard as, say, the U.K. in terms of work.

A lot of what Hartmann is adocating for is currently a lot more accesible to class-privileged people, but I found a video on the website of The New York Times that provides an interesting addition. In 2001, The New York Times interviewed 21 women who had just graduated from law school and were just starting out at a big firm. Now, 12 years later, most of them have left the firm. Despite having a really high income job (at least with this law firm), the women weren't really able to balance work and family life well. When the women did have some sort of "balance," it was usually because they had taken a different, lower-paying job or because they had a lot of community support. This was in sharp contrast to the expectations they had when they were first starting out, when they thought they could conquer the world. These women have a lot of access to the resources Hartman was advocating for because of their class privilege, but in the interviews they gave in the most recent video, 12 years after the first, I think the way they talk about how they were treated at work (in terms of having to adjust in ways that their male counterparts didn't, in their references to the sexism that they did face...) points to a need for not just changes to the existing structure that Hartmann proposes (with more access to paid leave, for example), but, instead, a change to the entire system--one that dismantles the de facto sexism in the workplace and everywhere.