My friend Heather shared this article about women doctors and the mentality that some people have about how women shouldn’t go to medical school if they are planning to work part time or stay at home. The funny thing is, until about a year and a half ago, I believe everything the author wrote in the original op-ed. Only, unlike the author, I believed it about lawyers too. She actually says, “I have great respect for stay-at-home parents, and I think it’s fine if journalists or chefs or lawyers choose to work part time or quit their jobs altogether. ”
I believe that women can do anything. But I also believed that people who pursue a degree that they do not plan to ever use are taking that space away from somebody who would not only benefit from that degree, but would use that degree to benefit other people. However, as an adult, I now understand that even though somebody wanted something when they started graduate school, or thought that they wanted something, they realize later that they want something entirely different. And that (unlike what my parents would have you believe) is okay.
Is it frustrating that there is millions of dollars spent on unused degrees out there? Yes. Is it equally frustrating that private daycare costs as much $25,000 per kid? Yes. Is it equally frustrating that employers tend to make it difficult for parents of small children to take time off to deal with an unexpected illness, childcare crisis, or other issue? Yes. Is it equally frustrating that a lot of women don’t make the “choice” to stay at home with their children so much as they make the “choice” that makes the most financial sense for their families, and then are maligned by people like past-me who judged them for it?
I talk a lot about the possibility of working part-time these days – something I never thought I would discuss or be willing to. I hated the idea of women cutting back to part time “just because” they had children. At some point along the way, possibly when my friends started having children, I became a little more open to the idea that I might like my children. I don’t have a problem with daycares and the idea of somebody else raising my kid – honestly, it doesn’t bug me. I don’t think women are natural child-rearers and I don’t think kids always do better with stay-at-home parents. But the idea of raising a tiny human being is starting to have some limited appeal to me.
What is very very apparent to me from the op-ed is that the system is broken. That there must be a better, lower-investment way to train doctors, or at least medical professionals. There must be a better way to provide childcare for women doctors. There must be a way to look at the question of “why aren’t women contributing as much as men” through the lens of, “How are men able to contribute so much more than female co-workers? Is it because they aren’t doing as much at home?”
What other changes do people like this woman/me need to change about our way of thinking about women in graduate school? Do you agree with her? Or is it always going to be a bad thing when we judge other people’s reproductive choices?