It really drives me crazy that issues like a flexible work day and dealing with children are considered “women’s issues” — my husband is just as involved with our children as I am. I haven’t been traveling as much as I usually do, so I have taken on more of the “shuttle” duties, getting the kids to their activities, etc…but when I have events to attend, or when I go out of town for a conference next week, the fact the Mike has a flexible work day is just as critical as it is for me. We both end up working in the evening, after the kids go to bed, so we can keep up with our various projects. As a professor, I usually end up editing my lectures the night before class and posting my notes. Mike often has conference calls with colleagues in Asia. I actually do the cooking in our house, but only because I don’t like to do the dishes, so Mike takes care of that. But dinner wasn’t the issue when I had a 9-5 job and the kids were in preschool, it was picking the kids up on time. Now that they are in school they have multiple activities that I take them to — I tell folks that I can’t schedule anything between 4 and 7 — that’s when I become the “mommy shuttle” and sit down with my kids, and usually my husband, for a family meal and review of the day.
I can’t help but think that if more men would speak up about their need for a flexible work day, this wouldn’t be an issue for women. In academia, parental leave became more important as the model of the male professor with the spouse who took care of the household came to an end. My male colleagues with children are all glad that they have flexible schedules, and some have even put their career on the back burner for their more successful wives in academia or the private sector.
Issue like birth control and healthcare shouldn’t just be women’s issues, either. Men who care about their mothers, sisters, daughters or wives all have a stake in these issues. It’s crazy that more men aren’t speaking up and supporting women in their fight to maintain funding for critical healthcare for women — we will all suffer in the end. It’s time for men to speak up and show that women aren’t the only ones who care about these issues.