Thursday, November 10, 2005

Career & Children

This is one of those issues that exists in all professions, not just piloting, but is maybe a little more extreme here. It doesn't really affect me, but maybe it does without me knowing.

These days it seems that everyone at my workplace has or is expecting new babies. When a guy is about to become a parent, the employer knows the guy will lose a bit of sleep, but that he really depends on the job now and is unlikely to move on unless he gets a much better job, but will have a harder time moving his family. Having kids is a sign of responsibility and permanence, so the guy is likely to get corresponding promotions. Never mind the fact that sometimes the little one is testament to a moment of irresponsibility, or some woman's last ditch attempt to make a flaky guy's presence permanent. I'm not implying that either case applies to any of my co-workers: it's a general statement.

Meanwhile, if I were to be expecting a child, my employment would quickly terminate. I would likely keep it secret as long as possible, so as not to lose out on promotions and other considerations given to employees considered keepers. But no matter what I said or did, thirty weeks into the pregnancy I would be legally forbidden to fly. Thenceforth I would be legally and morally required to care for the child, and I just don't see that matching a pilot's schedule in any way. (Whether it's possible is not the topic of this blog. If I had a child it would be my full time responsibility).

So what is the controversy if I'm not arguing that a woman should be able to juggle work and baby without penalty? It's that men are allowed to, and even get a bonus for it. When a man becomes a family guy, he's taken more seriously. Some beliefs hold that a woman's primary role is in the home, administering to her babies and husband. If you believe that, then you can stop reading, and probably already have.

But what can a woman do to demonstrate to her employer her maturity and committment? What is the occurrence whereby a woman can get the same nod from authority, recognizing her seriousness? Do you see it happening because she has reached menopause, sworn an oath of chasity, or had an abortion? You're probably snorting in derision at the ludicrousness of the very idea, and you're not the one who stopped reading during the last paragraph. She shouldn't. Everyone should be evaluated as an employee for the dedication and ethic they have demonstrated.

I don't have kids and am not planning to, but as long as I am female, I may lose out to the fathers, because they are regarded as more stable, and the childless males, because they have the potential to become stable fathers, while I don't. Heh. Least of my worries. Just something that occurred to me to say.

13 comments:

Lord Hutton said...

IS this a simple case of "It's a mans world"? I hate the sexist nonsense that goes on in this world.
Oh, And I brought my two up, not their mother, and I got a certain glow from it, a sort of borrowed "motherlyness I suppose. It never did me any harm;-)

Greybeard said...

Research recently showed that women's and men's brains are different, partly explaining why they perceive comedy differently.
Women perceive more complex comedy as funny, while men lean toward "The Three Stooges."

Surprise, surprise, surprise!
Women and men are DIFFERENT!

A fact of life.
It ain't fair.
Won't change in a major way soon, either.
You have a right to complain,
BUT.........

Adjust, or resort to alcohol or drugs.

(As an aside, and the subject of a possible future post.....
Would you rather have a male or a female for a supervisor? Most of my female nurses would rather work for a man.)
Why?

clumpinglitter said...

This is a hot button issue for me. Being a female of childbearing age, I know that potential employers consider WHEN I'm going to take maternity leave, rack up lots of medical bills, and cut back on work in order to "balance" work & family while other workers pick up the slack. But I have no intention of ever having kids, either.

It's also true that you're not considered a real adult unless you have kids, and this is doubly true if you're a woman. Same goes for marriage. I don't think there's any way to demonstrate that you're just as good of an employee (probably better) than someone without those outside committments.

The kicker is that if I were an employer, I would probably not hire a woman if I knew she wanted to have kids. I've seen way too many of my co-workers get preggers, suck up the fabulous maternity leave and medical bennies, then quit.

Greybeard -- I'm ignoring the useless nyah-nyah-nyah part of your post to answer your question about supervisors. I'd rather work for a man any day, given a choice. I'd also rather fly with a man.

However, when I've been assigned women supervisors, I always ended up having a fantastic working relationship with them, against my expectations. I also learned a ton about how to be a woman in a leadership role without having to overcompensate or act like a man. Same is true for flying -- the women at the flight school help others more. It's more like being on a team where we all want the best for each other.

The sterotypical bitchy woman manager exists, but she's a minority, at least in my profession (not nursing).

aasmodeus said...

It does suck that due to nature, women have more issues before, during, and for some time (years for some mothers) after childbirth. That said, I know several mothers who have returned to work eventually in fine form, and even worked for one who was typing on her freaking laptop in the maternity ward. She's wonderfully insane (and does an amazing job of helping society out; she's the director of a clinical center).

I can't imagine flying a plane right after childbirth however, so there is probably (depending on your pain tolerance and reaction to the hormones while carrying, which are significant) a minimum of six months away from active duty. If *I* were your husband, I'd probably work out a way for me to get paternity leave during the time you went back to work. Then of course in a dual income family you go the way of the day care center, but I didn't like the idea of starting that too early in my kid's life.

John said...

I haven't observed that men who have children are given any preferential treatment, but it's obvious the entire "contract" between worker and employer has changed.

Several years ago a woman, who was my wife's supervisor, bought a house with her partner. When the director heard this news, he said something like "Great! I hope they furnish it with expensive antiques so that she'll need this job more than before and she'll work longer hours."

If anything, having a child might lead an employer to believe that the employee will be more compliant and conservative and that they'll work harder and longer, perhaps for less.

aasmodeus said...

"of course". listen to me. Well, there are tons of other options too, like strong family support (if it exists and they live close enough), etc. It takes a village, yada yada yada.

dph said...

Sadly, the only conclusion I can come to about this is that there are some companies that are good and understand, and there are others who aren't.

The boss who said that they hoped the person who bought the house spends more money and needs the job more, therefore giving more is a self-centered ***hole.

Here's my 2 second test.

Does your employer seem more interested in butt hours put in then quality of work completed? Do they seem to understand that if you don't own the business, or have some other investment in the business, you don't have the same motivation to kill yourself over it?

There are some employers who are really good at hiring, training, and promoting quality people. In my experience, these employers are fine with mat leave, and flexible work hours.

YMMV and the industry you work in has a lot to do with it. I am not a pilot, so in the pilot world you may be stuck. I wonder what the situation is for a AC or WJ woman pilot?

D

Anonymous said...

Aviatrix

On another blog (Link below)
http://outer-marker.blogspot.com/
you posted a response to someone that was talking about his experience in a high performance aircraft. Your response to his post was:

"Aviatrix said...
How does a C182 qualify as high performance?

10/03/2005 10:50 AM"

Do you know what the classification for a High Performance Aircraft is?? Obviously not

"(according to 61.31)an aircraft with more than 200 horsepower is considered a High Performance Aircraft"

Last time I checked a Cessna 182 has 230 HP. So with your great knowledge and expertise what makes you think that a 182 is not a high performance aircraft?
http://skylane.cessna.com/spec_perf.chtml

Do your research before you begin to insult another persons experience.

Thanks for playing anyway!

-James Kenneth

Anoynmous said...

The trivial answer to this issue is obvious: become the employer. That's the most effective way I can think of to align the employer's policies with your own beliefs.



By the way, James, I don't understand what you're complaining about. Aviatrix asked a simple question, which you could have answered just as simply: In the United States, section 61.31 of the FAA regulations parenthetically defines a "high-performance airplane" as an airplane with an engine of more than 200 horsepower.

I certainly didn't interpret the question as denying or even challenging the fact; on the face of it, it is a legitimate request for information. As for insulting someone's knowledge and experience, you yourself might have been better off to have done enough research to discover that Aviatrix is Canadian and thus need not be censured for failing to know the minutia of US regulations.

dibabear said...

Hey James...go pee is someone else's pool. Why post an OT reply just to prove your Richard swings?

Aviatrix...dunno, I've never noticed much of the "he's serious/we're waiting for her to bolt" complex over my career. I've lost out two job promotions to women way back when. The first was due to seniority and the second...beats me as we were fairly equally qualified. I've lost out on far more opportunities because of the "old boy" network that I'm not a part of. Perspective, they say, depends on where you sit.

I work in a land where a new parent (mother or father, not both) get to take 3 years off when a child comes along. During that time their job is held for their return, they receive partial pay and health benes. I've watched several new mothers (and one new father) take the three years, return, work the minimum and do it again. On the other hand, I can't get a leave of absence for a year without pay or benes to finish my graduate degree. Such is life I guess.

Anonymous said...

Dear anonymous:

I appreciate the clarification for aviatrix. I am glad you knew exactly what she meant, because I obviously didn't. If indeed I misunderstood her tone, I apologize. However I will point out that a single line question such as hers might lead someone to believe that she was not being inquisitive, but rude. Have you ever left a response such as hers? In other words most short responses I see on blogs is: "great blog", "love your blog but I have a question?" etc. Didn't you also take the time to explain yourself to me in more than one sentence?

Thank you for pointing out Aviatrix' home. Was that possibly on her profile page?

By the way, if you havn't noticed Canada and America share a border; which means many Canadians come to America and many Americans go to Canada. Is the FAA not a benchmark for other countries?

Just something to think about.


-James Kenneth

Aviatrix said...

FAA regulations are used as a template for some countries that cannot afford their own air regulations, as are the British and Canadian ones.

In Canada a high performance aircraft has a stall speed 80 kts or greater and or a Vne of 250 kts or more. I knew high performance was based on horsepower in the US, but I thought it was higher. Does an American need a separate endorsement for every HP aircraft he flies, or a single endorsement for all? In a twin is that 200 hp per engine, or total?

I apologize if I appeared to malign the airplane. I have only ever flown C182s on floats, and trust me, "high performance" is not a phrase that comes to mind when you're trying to get one to come off the water.

TheSkylark said...

You, and many of your commentors, raise some interesting questions. While flying aircraft isn't my field, matters of maternity/paternity leave and fairness are important to many people.

Perhaps the 'playing field' would be more equalized if adoption were more normalized. I've never heard of anyone forced to take a leave of absence because they were adopting a child. Now, adoptive parents might have to take some time off if they adopt internationally and must go pick up their child.

Even adoptive parents who bring home infants probably don't have conversations like this:

She: "Honey? It's the third time tonight. Can't you go see what the baby wants?"

He: "Well, you're the one lactating--you get out of bed and feed the baby."