When Fathers Anchor The Home, They Don't Have It All Either

Friday, March 22, 2013

Due in large part to the release of Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg's new book "Lean In," for the first time in a long time there is a robust discussion about how to recruit and keep more women in leadership positions being had on a large scale. Underscoring these discussions is the issue of how children and work-life balance impede the advancement of women in the workplace.

Mike Winerip writes and anchors the Booming blog for The New York Times. He says that his experiences have lead him to believe that this isn't a gender issue. He was on the fast track to becoming a top editor at The New York Times when he made the unconventional decision to lean out and anchor the home while his wife worked as the breadwinner. He continued to work as a journalist but did so from home and turned down advancements in his career to accommodate running a busy house, a sacrifice made more often by women than by men.

Winerip’s experiences have lead him to believe that the blessing of children is also a major career limitation, regardless of your gender, and rightfully so. He doesn't believe that family-friendly workplace changes will reduce the burden on parents or catapult women to high-powered positions because the nature of high-powered work is just not friendly.

"Sometimes you think you have it, sometimes you think you're on top of it," says Winerip of his experiences balancing work life and home life. "You write a great story or a good story and you can still do the kids ball game you can coach and it all falls into place. And then there's an emergency the next day or a kid throws up and you're on the verge of falling apart."

"Our generation — I'm a baby boomer — we're the first ones who've done this. Some of it is a luxury. It's very, very hard but it's about having had the educational opportunities, having an economy that was mostly expanding, having all kinds of professional opportunities. And more opportunities can bring more challenges."

The Takeaway recently partnered with YouGov for a survey on work-life balance. Here are a few of the results:

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2132 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 19th - 21st March 2013. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults (aged 18+). You can view the full results of the survey here.


Michael Winerip

Produced by:

Megan Quellhorst

Comments [5]

Tami Sue Webster from Orlando

Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. I am relieved that finally it is safe for dissent. Michael Winerip's Interview ended the week with a bang for me. Last week I finished up reading Flanigan's, To Hell with all that, March 25th's New York Cover Story, "The Feminist Housewife", and Times March 18 Cover story about Sandberg. Winerip's perspective was the cherry on the cake. Sensible dialogue about a very emotionally charged issue-who is raising our children? I am just on the other side of it all- children now 21 and 23. I am done, I made the sacrifices, my husband had my back, I am tired but I am grateful that for the second decade of their lives I was a "stay-at home" mom. Yes our income was sorely reduced. But no regrets. My only challenge is what is next.. Getting back into a "paying job" is daunting but I faith. Kudos Mr. Winerip for your perspective. The inside out dirty clothes story you mentioned is SO RELATEABLE---it is that moment where you realize---this ain't worth! Scale down, find a way, remove the stress, there must be other ways to do this. THANK YOU AGAIN-its great hearing the male perspective.

Mar. 25 2013 03:17 PM

I disagree completely that family-friendly workplaces will not reduce the burden on parents. Take a look at the laws protecting families (maternity/paternity leave, etc.) overseas.

Mar. 22 2013 03:48 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Men can tend to be more successful in this world because we are clueless...

In the playground, the women are talking about the kids, and the men who are there to pick up their kids, are trying to figure out how not to go to another kids birthday party, or get out of going to the book fair.

Mar. 22 2013 02:16 PM
Cynthia from Albany, Oregon

Really? Existential choice? Being pregnant takes over your life, nursing is the automatic of course choice after being pregnant, you can't ignore the physical part of having children really making this a earthly and carnal reality. For men it is existential, for women the options are small and we are surrounded by a world tha discounts us and devalues for our biology. I have just as much to contribute as any man and in reality I have a greater impact because my influence has lasting effects on the next generation both biologically in how I treat my body before and after pregnancy but culturally in how I raise my children.

Mar. 22 2013 01:19 PM
Courtney from Orlando, FL

I'm a recent college graduate and my long time boyfriend is in his last semester of undergrad. We are already talking about what routes we'll take in deciding between building a career and one day raising a proper family. What we've decided is that it's best for the both of us to try to become as successful as possible before starting a family in our late 20s, early 30s.

But in order to achieve the financial stability we feel we'll need to be comfortable and provide the best for our children, we want to give ourselves the best chance to succeed at what we're good at. My boyfriend, 22, is a great golfer - junior international champion in fact - so I have decided to work and save while he tries to start a professional golf career.

Basically, we are hoping this will work for us, so that by the time we are ready to have children I can stop working to raise a family and maintain a home. I think those who are young and still do not have children could benefit from trying something similar.

Mar. 22 2013 12:30 PM

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