Men can get kudos for this out of office message. I suspect women can not.
[I am not so coherent but Cloud's comment about parents in the workplace got me fired up to write about it, even in my extreme fatigue.]
We identified "Insufficient Margin" as a risk factor in a "tiger team" report* about a satellite program last year. It meant that the schedule was so tight that any small surprise can throw the whole project into chaos and behind schedule. That's life for the two-career family. (I don't know how single mothers do it. I can only surmise they are superheroes in disguise.)
Ask any mother who gets the dreaded phone call from school or daycare, "Your child is sick and must be picked up within an hour." (Don't ask why they always call the mother instead of the father, even when the contact sheet lists the office and cell phone numbers of both.)
Or maybe you stayed up all night with a sick child. You and your partner need to split shifts so one can stay home with the sick child at all times. But the amount of work that needs to be done at the paying jobs has not been reduced to fit the available hours. Moreover, all that work has to be done without any sleep.
Did you see the Ravelry group, Childfree By Choice (CFBC)? They call us breeders. Guilty as charged. (Though parents of adoptive children are every bit as guilty.)
Have you seen those out of office automatic email replies that apologize for staying home to take care of a sick child? This is my fantasy auto reply:
I am out of the office this morning with a sick future tax-payer; I will reply to your email as soon as I can. Rather than thank me when you collect Social Security and Medicare, please give me your help and understanding now.Years ago, I read about a discussion in Japan's parliament about their demographic time bomb. One legislator railed against women who didn't breed and wanted to make women's pensions dependent upon how many children they raised. I thought this was horribly unfair. Why pick on women and not the entire society that makes raising children such a chump job? What about infertility?
On second thought, why did I take on a whole 'nother job that comes with no pay, compresses my salary and costs tons of money. (Have you priced quality childcare lately? Bring smelling salts.) When I get my Social Security Benefits statements each year, I see red. For doing two demanding jobs, I will not be rewarded in retirement. In fact, I will lose benefits relative to the CFBC because I have been given much lower raises ever since I dared to breed. My husband, another breeder, has enjoyed increased raises. For many of those years, our raises were determined by the same man. It just makes my blood boil.
Breeders shoulder responsibility for a sustainable society. It is not unreasonable to expect nonbreeders to understand that we are also performing a service FOR THEM.
* I've updated Why don't smart people have children? with advice given by a woman who has served on many more "tiger teams" than I have.