A recent weekend was filled with T-ball, two playdates and a sleepover. A conversation about the emergence of casual gaming on mobile devices took place while climbing over big rocks at the breakwater. Late night coding of a drag-and-drop interface to control remote data sets fit in after Bionicles, a new rhyming game, and bedtime.
Choosing between family time and professional interests is not a women’s issue, yet these choices are more often intensely difficult for women than for men. I just read “Do Women Lack Ambition?” by Anna Fels (via danah at misbehaving.net):
Women now experience the most powerful social and institutional discrimination during their twenties and early thirties, after they have left the educational system and started pursuing their ambitions. At the age when women most frequently marry and have children, they must decide whether to try to hold on to their own ambitions or downsize or abandon them. Often, a young woman must make this decision at the moment when she is just learning to be a parent, with all its attendant fears, pleasures, insecurities, and around-the-clock work.
Although it is not stated as such, the focus of the article is on ambitions to succeed professionally in fields traditionally reserved for men. More women than men have ambitions to raise the next generation and to create that special relationship with a child that can lead to a healthy happy grown-up. One could argue the clear biological basis for this imbalance. After all, men are ill-equipped for the bearing of children. However, I know many men who value relationships and family and struggle against common expectations and sexism that limits the role of a man in our society.
“Downsizing” professional ambition to be a parent is a different ambition, not a lack of ambition.