Women Maintaining Professional Skills

July 29, 2008 | NeW Staff

   Last Thursday, I was perusing my different sources for the morning news (Drudge Report….Facebook…ESPN…Perez Hilton)…and I ended up at the CNN website. I followed the link to a story entitled “Moms Find Balance as High-Skilled Temps”.

I found this story interesting because what it reported wasn’t simply just that women are “staying home more”, but revealed a new job market. We’ve always heard that being a mom is a full time job. There are women who work two full time jobs because of financial circumstances, because they are the sole provider etc. On the other hand, there are women who try to “stay home” and have a part-time job, working fewer hours.  The article points out that often, the fact of the matter is that a “part-time” job sounds nice, but as a “full time” job can end up meaning 50 or 60 hours a week, a “part time” job can end up meaning more than 30 hours a week, which is not really “part time”.

“I was trying to be a full-time mom and a full-time employee with part-time hours for both and it just wasn’t working well,” [interviewed mom Ashley] Hewitt said.”

Many women want to stay in the work place not only for financial needs but for the need to stay mentality stimulated and in order to be in a better position to re enter the full time job market later in life.

“Some simply want to stay plugged into their industries and use their skills…[For others] it’s probably something that they’re missing from a personal, professional point of view, just part of their self-identity is very attached to their career ….,” said Jessica Riester, founder of FlexWork Connection”

     In this way, part time work wasn’t really meeting the needs of women. Enter “Mom Corps” and “Flexwork Connection” and other temp agencies which cater to high-skilled stay at home moms. These agencies have allowed women to really pick their own schedules, working as few hours as they want.
     While this solution pleases women who know the importance of a mother in her children’s lives,  I think Betty Friedan would be pacified as well. These agencies seem to maintain the intellectual stimulation and professional identity of a women, to which she clung so tightly. So, perhaps what women have actually desired is finally being made possible: the ability to give time to their children during developmental years while not having to give up entirely their professional lives by making the decision to quit their jobs.
     The new staffing agencies shown here are a wonderful example of excellent entrepreneurial skill. The founders saw the aforementioned desire of women and have helped make it a reality. This dilemma of women torn between the professional and private lives is nowhere near totally solved, but the article suggests the market has come up with a remedy which addresses the root of the problem, not just the symptoms (subsidized childcare, maternity leave etc). 

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