CBC radio’s The Current got into the fray today concerning Mayer’s face-time edict for Yahoos. The show asked “if working from home was really working.” And the consensus was that full-time work from home is undesirable (as shown in studies), but part-time work from home can result in greater productivity because workers have choice in how and when to work. The panelists explicitly stated that this is not a women’s issue, but an issue for all workers. Working from home was supported by a panelist from Workshift Canada, an organization that promotes flexible work arrangements.
I’m optimistic that these kinds of discussions are taking place, and that there’s a recognition that flexibility is good for all kinds of workers (including introverts, I might add, as portrayed in a book I read recently, Quiet). But I have to maintain that for some women (me) there is a gendered component at work here (pun intended). Biology, while maybe not destiny, plays a big hand here: women give birth and breastfeed, setting them on a course of childcare that can be hard to overcome. Throw in more than one to two pregnancies and a partner in a rigid work culture, and doing your own childcare is not a choice but an imperative for a significant number of middle-class women. It’s a first world problem, and it may pale in comparison to what other women in other socio-economic categories or geographical areas are facing, but for those hoping to have both a family and meaningful work, it’s a major life dilemma.