How to resolve The Second Shift?

As couples begin to make the connection between their private troubles and the absence of public policy on the family, perhaps they will force the issue of daycare and federal support for job restructuring as political campaign issues.

Arlie Hocschild

It’s pretty clear that we haven’t yet resolved the second shift problem. That is, women are still more likely than men to take care of the nitty-gritty household duties and family caregiving responsibilities–even when they are employees or have jobs outside of the home. The pandemic shed light on how women, and moms, still carry a larger burden of caring. They suffered more economically from the impact of COVID-19, yet received less help.

I have been obsessed with issues of work-family conflict since the early ’90s. So, it’s not surprising that my copy of Arlie Hochschild‘s book, The Second Shift, has brownish-yellow edges and smells like a used bookstore. Nearly every paper I wrote in graduate school referenced this seminal book about dual-earner couples.

This quote reminded me that we can’t resolve certain problems on our own. And women shouldn’t be so hard on themselves when they can’t. For example, rising health care costs or the lack of affordable, quality child care are longer-term, systemic problems are not things we alone can tackle.

I do my best to help women resolve their career-family conflicts or their own life junctions. But, we also need to come together, within our organizations and our communities, to create policies that we can all benefit from. And, until we do, I hope women will remember that 1) they are not alone and 2) they are not the ones who are flawed when they can’t manage.

Knitting Notes

I made this poncho with some yarn and a pattern I bought from Artfibers while traveling in San Francisco many years ago. Sadly, the shop closed. Thankfully, their legacy lives in Ravelry!

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