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Of men, women, Wizard's First Rule, feminism, patriarchy, egalitarianism... oh, and a disclaimer! - GROWL — LiveJournal
ifritah
ifritah
Of men, women, Wizard's First Rule, feminism, patriarchy, egalitarianism... oh, and a disclaimer!
21 purrs or Purr for me
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ifritah From: ifritah Date: February 1st, 2006 08:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's a good question.

As a woman who plans to never have children, it's a bit out of my element of thought. However, it's certainly an issue that needs to be confronted.

My first thought is that it is uncertain what any person's future health will be when they begin a job. Will Janet get pregnant? Will Bob have a heart attack that keeps him hospital ridden for weeks? Will Jill find out that her entire family was eaten by wolves and now has to take a leave of absence to get over the loss? Will Billy find out he has cancer and have to take frequent leaves to have treatment?

I realize that pregnancy is assuredly one of the more likely situations that causes a person to have to leave work for a time, but it is by no means the only cause. Personally, I would find a betterment in the health care system along with companies working to bring more security to their employees as a really good first step.

Just saying, pregnancy is not the only cause for someone to have to leave work for a time. How to make things fair in the workplace that'll make everyone happy? I'm not really sure. But I would hope that employers wouldn't look at a woman and have his inner thoughts be, "Shit, she might get pregnant someday" just as I would hope that same employer to look at a man and think, "shit, he might get prostate cancer someday".
schneeble From: schneeble Date: February 1st, 2006 10:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
I also hope that's not what employers are thinking, but at the same time I think that they often do consider that factor, because pregnancy is not an illness. I know that's not what you were saying, and it's probably not the most tactful way I could phrase my point, but...

When an employee of either gender becomes ill or injured, it's generally assumed that they are equally likely to come down with a condition that interferes with work, and that--as you suggest--quality medical care will minimize the employee's down time. Also, most people try to avoid getting sick or injured seriously enough to interfere with work (something that isn't necessarily true with pregnancy).

When a woman gets pregnant, high quality medical care will help to ensure that she recovers from the rigors of childbirth as quickly as possible, but maternity leave generally allows for time beyond the hospital stay anyway. So while health benefits are useful, they don't really insulate an employer from the risk of having an employee leave for months in a row.

On the other hand, pregnancy is a process, so a woman isn't likely to call in from the hospital and say "I woke up this morning with a late-term pregnancy, I'm going to need a year off." An employer has time to arrange for transitions into and out of a maternity leave.

That being said, even without the traditional social model of feminine housewives and masculine breadwinners, there is at least some pressure on employers to prefer male employees over female.

One potential way around this social impact of biology (and this is just a brainstorm idea), is to take the little-used idea of paternity leave and expand on it to make it an equivalent of maternity leave.

I don't know what the other implications of that might be, it's just a thought.
betacandy From: betacandy Date: February 1st, 2006 10:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Paternity leave might be a very good thing for society in general, too. Like a government endorsement of men taking the time to bond with their kids. It might make some people think about the importance of that.

One thing *I* would like, personally, is if children weren't the only thing people had a legal right to take leave for. What about writing a novel, or traveling, or getting some education? I can't see how these things benefit the employer any more or less than bringing another life into the world.
schneeble From: schneeble Date: February 1st, 2006 10:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree. More or less, anyway. It always struck me as a little odd that professors seem to be the only workers for whom a "sabbatical" is at least allowed (if not encouraged).
betacandy From: betacandy Date: February 2nd, 2006 04:52 am (UTC) (Link)
I once temped at a company that encouraged people to take unpaid leaves of up to 6 months for pretty much anything. I never fully understood the policy, but the exec who explained it said someone had taken off time to write a book, someone else had taken time for travel. I'm just not sure on how often they were allowed to do this, or how the company filled in for them without replacing them. I think it's doable, though, and so are things like telecommuting (which would also reduce traffic and polution), and we need to start thinking outside the box. There might be a lot of simple changes that would make life much nicer for everyone, and we're just too mired in the status quo to embrace them.
ifritah From: ifritah Date: February 2nd, 2006 12:04 am (UTC) (Link)
I completely agree! If I could take a leave from work to write a novel, that would be AWESOME.
betacandy From: betacandy Date: February 2nd, 2006 04:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes. My only fear is, they'd demand to see the novel at the end, and I'd only have 3/4 of a draft done because I'm the slowest writer since some one-armed guy carving in stone at the very beginning of civilization.
ifritah From: ifritah Date: February 1st, 2006 11:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'd be curious to find statistics on how much sick leave/leave of absenses occur in hour amounts between men and women at work. I think research like that would be very helpful for this debate. ... And because the sociologist in me wants to know!

Paternity leave has been very successful in other countries. I think it's an excellent way to even the amount of fairness in work leave. Very lovely brainstorm! ^_^


malakim From: malakim Date: February 2nd, 2006 02:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is something that FMLA tries to correct. Basically it's federal law that states that if you are unable to work for a period of time (for any reason, as long as you're under a doctor's care), your job is protected for up to 3 months (IIRC). We usually have about one or two women a year using FMLA for pregnancies, but we also have people out for various surgeries and other medical issues.

As a side note, guys can also use FMLA to get up to two weeks off from work with no illness or medical problems if their wife has a baby, for bonding with the newborn.

Any other questions?
ifritah From: ifritah Date: February 6th, 2006 05:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for the info! ^_^
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