Monday, July 1, 2013

Single vs Married at Work

Sorry for the impromptu hiatus.  I wish I had a good reason, but it's really a few random personal issues combined with being totally obsessed with finishing the Games of Thrones books.  I decided I needed to put them down when I unironically called someone "craven".

Anyway, I've had a story up in my browser for a bit now that I've been meaning to comment on.  It's this Slate story about how "family-friendly" workplaces are discriminating against those who don't have kids, by making those without kids cover for those with them.

*Bias alert*  I have a great deal of sympathy for the argument that kids should not be the only acceptable reason for people to leave the office early on a regular basis.  If people are able to leave to get to soccer games for their kids, it should be just as valid if it's your own rec league soccer game.  Obviously people with kids will likely have more emergency calls, but I believe that too should apply to kids as well as parents needing a caretaker, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, pets etc.  If you're a caretaker for someone, you have my long as you're getting your job done or taking available leave as allowed.  OTOH, there are some highly competitive or otherwise inflexible jobs that just don't allow this sort of thing, and I know that sucks.  When I've worked in environments like that (example: where you had to work on major holidays) there were generally blanket rules for everyone to keep things fair (work 2 out of 3 of Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Years)   Either way, I'm not a fan of having two sets of rules based on personal life choices.  *End alert*

Given that I'm inherently sympathetic to the viewpoint expressed, I was interested to find that I got really annoyed at what I was perceiving as a bit of a bait and switch within the exemplified by this quote:

When almost half of the people in the U.S. are single, why do companies continue to cater to their employees who are married with children?" 
This quote came from an author of a book about discrimination against single people.  What irks me is that she's moving the goalposts around...are people being asked to do more work because they're single or because they're childless?  Yes, half of the population may be single, but as best I can tell nearly 80% of women have a biological child by age 44*.   That doesn't count step kids or adoptions, by the way.

Now there may be some data somewhere that shows married people with no kids get asked to do less than single people with no kids, but if it exists it was not included in the article.  At least anecdotally though, I think single people with kids actually tend to get more sympathy than married people with kids when it comes to time off.  That's absolutely fine with me...not having a back up must suck...but at least some of the single people she cited above will be singles with children getting more breaks than singles without children.

I guess it's just strange to me that we can all suffer through endless headlines about how many children are being born to unwed mothers and then turn around and imply that single = childless.  Additionally, the number of people checking "single" who are living with someone has been growing as well.  As family structures change, binary categories are less and less meaningful.  I don't doubt that some workplaces could get better at this, but we have to accurately identify the problem before we can agree on solutions.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, the word "cater" is a scientific, objective, non-emotive word, eh?