America’s New Mommy Wars: An Elitist Assault on Working Women?

Published on Spiegel Online International, by Joanne Bamberger, March 07, 2013.

Two high-profile working mothers in America claim they aren’t setting off the 2013 version of the mommy wars. But, in light of their recent actions, it’s hard to view the perspectives of Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer any other way.  

Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg has for years publicly voiced her opinion that American women should stop shying away from their place at the leadership table and insist on gender equality, even after becoming mothers. She is saying that women should stop “leaning back” from their careers once kids come along. The fact that Sandberg has tons of domestic help and a husband whose job allows him to manage a lot of their family responsibilities goes mostly unmentioned in her line of argument … //

… Arguments Will Strike Out in Europe:

Sandberg’s book and Mayer’s edict probably won’t be well received by Dutch women, who seem to believe that happiness in life isn’t all about a 60+ hour work week or breaking through a glass ceiling. What about French women, whose attitudes toward work and family were described by American writer Judith Warner as follows?

“In France,” she writes, “mothers are expected to take time for themselves. Their lives are made easier by social supports such as high-quality childcare and generous parental-leave policies.” French mothers, in Warner’s view, enjoy a lifestyle that Americans might find almost incredible. “Guilt just wasn’t in the air,” she says.
Sounds like both Sandberg and Mayer will strike out there. British news reports express skepticism about Sandberg’s approach. As for German women, I’m not sure if they are going to take kindly to advice from American corporate mothers with millions of dollars in stock options.

Can European women “lean in” if they so desire? Do they want the flexible working arrangements that Mayer has for herself, but that she is hesitant to bestow on her employees? I have no doubt that both are true. But just as with many American women, it has to be their decision about what’s best for their lives and their families, and not about falling victim to executive women who think they know what’s best for everyone around the world.
(full text).

(Joanne Bamberger, a journalist and mother, is the author of Mothers of Intention: How Women in Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America).

Links:

Jail Sentence: Court Convicts Scandal Maestro Berlusconi, on Spiegel Online International, March 07, 2013 (Photo Gallery): An Italian court on Thursday sentenced Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi to one year in prison. While the former prime minister will appeal the verdict in the case involving the illegal publication of a wiretapped phone call transcript, it’s just one of a handful against him being heard this month.

Comments are closed.