Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sharing office space with your babe

My friend Mimi and I spend a lot of time talking about feminism, especially as it relates to libraries (our line of work). We find it really funny that people who work in libraries will try to start serious discussions about tech-sector benefits (like being able to bring your dog to work) before they will initiate a talk about flexible work hours, on-site daycare, paid maternity leave and other women and family-friendly policies.

When I saw this article I had to laugh because, although my co-workers oohh and aahh when I bring my son into the office to visit, I can't imagine any of them being supportive of me being allowed to bring him into the office. The article is from an Australian newspaper but is pulling information from a US study about the practice of bringing your baby to work.

So according to this article, a couple hundred companies in the US allow women to bring their babies to work and return to a flexible schedule. Of course this is very beneficial to new moms, and if we can't get paid leave or affordable, government-subsidized daycare, at least being able to bring your baby to work would allow women to continue to breastfeed. As a mom who pumps at work, lord knows I wish I could just latch my baby on instead. Pumping is time consuming, painful, tedious and stressful. I feel like I spend the majority of my day at work worrying about my pumping output, not my patrons or other projects.

Carla Moquin, who wrote the book, Babies at Work: Bringing New Life to the Workplace, says that most folks are rightly skeptical about how all of this works, but that once people try it, mom and baby get into a nice routine and everyone is supporting. Hhhmm. I call bullshit. Does anyone think co-workers, especially those who weren't able to take advantage of a similar program or who don't have kids, would actually be supportive of this type of thing? I've seen people mad enough to spit over women leaving work early to care for a sick child or attend a soccer game. Can you imagine their ire over a mom bringing her "spawn" into the office?

And which companies are offering these programs? I skimmed the list and surprise, surprise, almost none of them are places known as "women's work." So disheartening. I would love to believe that something like this could work (I'd be the first in line with my baby) but I just don't think we're there as a society. And if secretaries, teachers, nurses and librarians can't make use of the programs, what good is it? It's like when I read the list of the 100 most family-friendly companies that Working Mother magazine puts together and they're all in the fields of finance and computers and have a small percentage of women on staff.

Why is is that those of us in traditionally female fields don't fight harder for these benefits? Is it because we know we'd never get them? Is it because the boss tends to be a man?

Does anyone think this would fly at her job? I'm really fascinated by the whole scenario.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Related Posts with Thumbnails