Last week on ABC TV Judith Lucy was given a fake baby for 17 hours.
The doll was computer programmed to cry and need feeding, rocking and nappy-changing so Judith could understand the relentless exhaustion of becoming a mother. If only we could do the same for our childless bosses. Alas, it seems we often have to wait until our managers breed to truly understand the life of the working mother.
Zaleski reveals she committed ‘a long list of rather shocking infractions. She didn’t disagree when another female editor said we should hurry up and fire another woman before she “got pregnant”, she scheduled last minute meetings at 4:30pm all the time because it didn’t dawn on her that parents might need to pick up their kids at daycare.
She confessed she was obsessed with showing her commitment by staying in the office “late” even though she started work hours later than the parents and secretly rolled her eyes at a mother who couldn’t make it to last minute drinks with the team.
Katharine Zaleski even shares a memory of meeting Time.com’s then Managing Editor to pitch a partnership idea, “surveying the endless photos of her small children” and deciding she was “too much of a mother” to follow up on the idea.
‘Too much of a mother’. Double ouch.
You have to admire Zaleski’s honesty and be thankful for her remorse. Many of us have rolled our eyes at female co-workers who we assumed were getting an easy ride because they had kids. But it’s revealing that as a boss she had to have a child to realise she was utterly unfair, ‘horrible’ and part of the problem.
That problem, in both the United States and Australia, is that women are enablers and leaders of the macho working culture that rewards long hours rather than productivity.
After Katherine Zaleski had her daughter she saw the light. What she did next is both exciting and depressing. Zaleski quit her job and became involved in a business that enables women to work from home or at least find work that suits their parenting situations. It’s fantastic that women of her calibre are involved in an alternative workforce that is flexible and values and rewards women for their productivity.
Want more? 11 Things not to say to a working mum.