Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Backstage support: traveling nannies

I decided to break up the nanny arrangements post and treat this backstage support item separately.

My last manager used to say that he could not put me on such and such (high profile) project because I cannot travel.  I repeatedly told him that I am able to travel, but I need to know in advance so I can make appropriate arrangements.  This back and forth went on for years with him making a false statement and me gently correcting him.  Anyway, all water under the bridge now.

In the last post, I wrote that the amount of backstage support that elite women can afford to purchase is out of the question for most women, even ones with PhDs like myself.  When my daughter was young and I was working nearly full-time, I did spend on a high-quality daycare center that provided coverage 7AM-6PM Monday through Friday.  A cleaning lady came biweekly.  My husband, when he was in town and not otherwise occupied, helped.  Otherwise, I was on my own.

My husband is a field scientist and travels frequently and with little notice. He told me that, if I put my travel on the calendar at least 6 months in advance, then he will hold that sacred and not book travel at the same time. That didn't work out as promised.   I have put travel on the calendar as far as 13 months in advance and he has then arranged to travel at the exact same time.  Again all water under the bridge now.

One time, when I was traveling to DC to brief a large project to the client agency, he had a trip pushed back from the prior week to the exact same week.  His client was one that could not be denied.  I couldn't back out of a big meeting arranged months in advance.  We were booked for the same flight to DC and shared a hotel room and car, saving our employer hundreds of dollars.

Our parents were in too frail health to help out with childcare overnight, so I  called the work/life balance counselor at HR for help with overnight daycare arrangements.  Blah, blah, blah.  They talked a good game, giving a work/life balance phone number.  But, when I really needed help, they offered me nothing but ridicule for even calling.   I told the counselor that the company was sending both parents out of town and that we needed help locating an overnight nanny.  She paused for a few seconds and then went into a spiel about how daycare is a private matter and not something that she can help me with. 

Anyway, I was heartened to read that U.S. Soccer provides and pays for traveling nannies as a normal part of the of cost of doing business and competing.

Wouldn't it be nice if all this talk about bringing women into STEM included more backstage support?  Or offering backstage support to anyone who needs it, regardless of profession?

1 comment:

  1. It is SO frustrating how little support there is for working parents in this country. I am SO grateful my kids are now, essentially, grown up. I went back to work when they were 4 and 6, newly divorced, and it was difficult. I am SO grateful that I have been allowed to work from home for many years.


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