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Category Archives: work

I’d like to write more about this, but I have a thesis proposal to put together. It’s about what is called the motherhood penalty, the fact that moms in the workplace are routinely paid less and offered worse, less reliable positions than women without children, men without children, and men with children.

I’ll just say that I first noticed the motherhood penalty when I was working full-time when my second daughter was born. No woman in my office who chose to have children escaped some sort of repercussion. One woman asked, after she had been shifted from regular day work to irregular day/evening shifts, if she could be given a set schedule two weeks ahead of time so she could plan childcare. Management said “we didn’t ask you to have kids”. She left. Her husband, who worked in the same office but was apparently free from the responsibility to arrange childcare, stayed.

Anyway, more analysis on the new research here. And more about the motherhood penalty here.

My life has changed. I am no longer a paid minion, reduced to typing stories that meet the specifications an editor who is so anxious to please the multi-millionaire-publisher-and-owner’s-son that he seems almost unable to leave the office for fear of not being available to change this story he thinks the publisher might find objectionable or spike that story that he is worried might cause too much attention, which will then cause the publisher to pay too much attention to him. He’s living in one house, building another and has no other marketable skills – with the notable exception of passive-aggressive bullying. He landed his relatively well-paid job completely by fluke and he can’t afford to be fired. 

I am on an island – which is as I write in the middle of an amazing snowstorm. Both island and writer are used to waiting out snowstorms, recalling the green shoots and furled tendrils of springs past and re-living flings with summers of our youths. 

I am in the middle of a personal snowstorm, I suppose, one in which I am redefining who I am and who I will become. I will use this blog to clear the snow each time the path out of my door becomes covered again with regrets and hopes, memories, the kind which bring a smile, and the kind which have still the power to wound, with ambition and failure, with stories and words and the sound of children. 

There’s something about snowstorms.

When you buy a muffin from Tim Hortons, a blueberry muffin specifically, were ever disappointed by the number of blueberries in the muffins? So many it was too-blueberry or so few it was all cake? Were you ever mad that the one you were eating didn’t have the same number of blueberries in it that the previous one had?

Me neither.

Now how about when you picked up a newspaper: Were you ever upset that one story was longer than the other, that all the stories weren’t exactly the same length.

Me neither.

Now let me take you to a staff meeting from a few months ago.

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Early to work this morning and sitting at his desk, drinking coffee is a pale-skinned, red-headed colleague of mine who is a rarity: a journalism “lifer”.

In the business for 20-some-odd years, he’s worked at newsrooms across Canada, everyone of them, almost without exceptions, dysfunctional messes, he went on to tell me.
I’m not sure how much longer I can put up with THIS place, I told him.
He gave me a pep talk – something he has done for almost every journalist in this place. He’s that kind of guy.

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I’m invoking the P-word for this post. Patriarchy.

Because working in an office arranged around the father-knows-best and father-is-the-law ideology is as damaging for worker morale and for workplace productivity (the biz term for making sure lots of work gets done so the company can make lots of money and enough profit to keep you in a job).

And it is the kind of workplace in which I have landed.

I’m a creative, go-by-my-gut, everything-will-get-done-if-I-don’t-have-to-slow-down-for-bureaucratic-details, passionate, part-time contrarian. Which isn’t a good fit for this workplace.

Things I have recently been reprimanded for:

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