I get letters and phone calls and faxes and e-mail. The following correspondence is edited.
Reader: I appreciate that you are so aware of a working mothers’ need for more time for family matters. Where I work, flextime is only given lip service and working at home or outside the office is considered a special circumstance. Even with 15 days a year for personal time, sick days and vacation, it’s impossible to do it all and stay sane and healthy. We need more executives who understand what it takes to hold down a job and raise a family.
Comment: You’re right about what working mothers need, but I hope you don’t have to know firsthand in order to implement change: 98 percent of the country’s top businesses are run by men.
Reader: A reader wrote that girls, too, work hard in school sports but have little support which affects them negatively later in their careers.
I say be careful what you ask for, you may get it. I think a lot of problems in education are caused by the overemphasis of sports, and that boys spend too much time perfecting their sports skills at the expense of improving their minds.
On the other hand, girls are taught the road to success is the classroom, and sports are recreation. Girls have the right priority. Do you really think women will be better off in the long run if society throws a lot of extra attention and money at their sports programs? I think not.
Comment: You do have a point, but students learn so much from team sports. And there’s still the problem of boys’ sports getting more funding than girls’ sports - and the message it sends.
Reader: I teach high school students how to start their own businesses, and my best entrepreneurship students tend to be girls. Motivated, wanting something different for themselves, they are excellent students with lots of moxie and savvy. As a group, they stand up to the boys who often seem to be driven by forces below their belt line, sports and cars.
In schools, we need to stress entrepreneurial education for all students - the world of work has changed and all workers have to “engineer their own trains” - especially for women and minorities.
Comment: Workers slowly are beginning to realize their careers must be in their own hands, that employers do not look out for them anymore. And women and minorities increasingly are opting to start their own businesses - and to have a boss, finally, who understands them: themselves.
Reader: I work in retail part-time because they won’t hire me full-time to avoid giving me benefits. I never get a raise. To get another job, I put a good resume together, invested in an “interview suit” and cut 15 inches off my long hair.
I need a better job so my daughter can have enough food and good day care. Sometimes I have to take her with me on interviews. I’m glad she’s so good.
I’m single and have been on welfare and homeless, which I hated. But it’s stressful looking for a better job. That’s why I appreciate the advice and encouragement you give to women like me.
Comment: Your story, unfortunately, is not unique. It’s true of many single mothers. That’s why the so-called welfare reforms are so depressing. They lack provisions for support and training that so many women need.
You deserve a medal, maybe even a building named for you, for your determination to make it. You have your eye on the prize. Go for it!
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