The Woes of the Woman

There was a great article in the Washington Post yesterday about working moms in Congress. The story focused on the ten congresswomen who have children under the age of eleven. It was really interesting to read how these women balanced their work and family life. Every week they have to shuttle between their congressional districts (where their family live) and Washington, DC (where their career is located). It seems like such a hectic life, but they all make it work somehow. And as a woman, I am really proud of them for doing it.

Yet there was a small portion of the article that made me sad. In the article, the point was made that men running for office get kudos from voters for raising young children--but women are often penalized for it.
For male candidates, people think having young kids is a total plus. They believe such a man would be concerned about family values and that he would be more "future-oriented." Women candidates, however, face an uphill battle if they have little children. Their voters often wonder who's at home minding the kids when their mom is on the campaign trail.

First, I think it's unfair to women in congress that they cannot be good mothers and good politicians. Obviously this a hard road to head down, but it is not an impossible one. The women in the article demonstrate that they try their hardest to be the best moms that they can be while serving our country at the same time. They fly home for piano concerts and they check their children's homework every night--sometimes via fax. These women show that you can put your family first and succeed in your career. Of course, sacrifices must be made, but such a thing can be achieved.

Secondly, I also find it unfair that nobody questions the various congressmen who are raising young children about their abilities to be good fathers. Congressmen and congresswomen share the same political responsibilities---yet why is it that only female politicians are questioned about their parenting skills? It's interesting that men are applauded for balancing the two realms of work and family, yet women are criticized for doing the same thing.

And lastly, I feel really lucky to live in a time when more and more women are serving in the Senate and the House. For the first time in our history, we have a woman as the Speaker of the House and an African-American woman as the Secretary of State. I know there is ground that still needs to be broken when it comes to leveling up the playing field, but the strides we've made thus far are truly inspiring.

Anyway, it is a great article. Take a gander if you have the time.