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Sunday, March 27, 2016

CALLING ALL MOMS



A recent (March, 2016) issue of Scientific American magazine showcased a study published in the British Medical Journal. The BMJ research evaluated inequality in American medicine. The researchers looked at the heads of over 1,000 departments of 50 top U.S. medical schools and found that, though for the past 15 years woman have made up nearly half of all U.S. medical students, and though fewer than 15 percent of men wear mustaches, medical school departments are significantly more likely to be run by a mustachioed man than by a woman

In fact the "overall moustache index," a ratio of women to mustaches, was found to be 0.72, meaning for every 10 department heads with facial hair, only 7 heads were women. The researchers concluded that the fairer sex is horribly underrepresented in medicine's highest ranks and urged medical institutions to "hire, retain, and promote more women." Political correctness in its most flagrant form.

But the study ignored one important point. Maybe fewer women than men (and even mustacheioed men) run top medical programs not because they cannot but because they do not wish to. Ever think of that, BMJ? After all there is a certain extracurricular activity called child-birth and -rearing which occupies a crap-load of time and which men cannot list on their resumes (for obvious biological reasons). This hallowed practice requires at least 3/4 of a year, and up to 3 years if you breastfeed for the recommended length of time. Three years of undivided attention. A fast marathon requires only three hours of such effort, and less than one percent of the American population has completed one. Because like competitive running, raising a child is a job in itself. In other words it's hella tough!

Such research is like evaluating the number of men who practice rocket science or other avocation and are also the heads of major institutions. That number would likely be zero, unless you call fantasy football a part-time gig. There is not enough time in the day to be an optimal caregiver and a career person as well, not if you want to do both well. And women who are more practical and intuitive if not wiser than men, may be sensitive to the drawbacks inherent in certain lines of work, medical careers among them. These drawbacks include too much paperwork, not enough pay, or too much pay for not enough work, if you're like the CEO who conducts his business over drinks on the links. Which leads to guilt, an emotion too few men feel to care. Which is why most CEOs are men.

Furthermore, the female ego may not need the gratification that comes with such a title as "program director" or "medical chief." Until we raise an outcry about why so few men give birth to children, we should not cry gender discrimination. Rather, let's allow biological forces to match personality with perfect job. Because, really, that's what's been happening since the first male and female mated.

As it is, women represent almost half of the U.S. workforce and hold 51% of high-paying management and professional positions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). There are more women accountants and auditors, financial managers, insurance underwriters, medical scientists, education administrators, tax collectors, veterinarians, psychologists and elementary and middle school teachers. By lobbying for equality in the workplace defined as "equal representation across jobs" women are forced out of the home into jobs they may not be suited for or wish to do, at the expense of the relationships they have been so assiduously nurturing with their children and spouses. Because let's face it, in relationships women do most of the work.

As a result, kids are raised by strangers, and husbands are left eating Hungry Man dinners and drinking Pabst on the sofa alone - which they call a couch, and never bother to clean up the crumbs that fall between the cushions. Women too suffer from this self-imposed domestic estrangement. For who can ever take the place of the inveterate nurturer? Men have traditionally been the providers, which doesn't mean that they cannot also cuddle and coddle, only that males are not as perfectly suited to the task. How can a man possibly develop as secure a bond with his child as the mother who carried and breast-fed that child, which is literally an extension of her, and who by a feminine instinct more powerful than anything in a man's repertoire, is uniquely attuned to her child's needs?

It's like asking mom, who is a math whiz, to coach her son's Little League baseball team when she has no knowledge of the sport while dad, who played college baseball and is a veritable encyclopedia of knowledge and experience on the subject, and who flunked out of math, tutors his other son in Algebra. Sure each can do what they are not perfectly suited to, but not nearly as well as the other. If you're looking for comic relief, such a set-up provides it in spades. Which is why I laugh every time I see a man with a baby slung around his belly. Though if you've got stock options on such slings, I'm buying. Unless things go back to normal, which I hope they do.

By normal I mean this: What we need to understand is that raising a child is the most difficult, necessary, rewarding and thankless job under the sun. Children are our future. Sound familiar? It should, because Whitney Houston sang the line in her hit, "The Greatest Love of All." So teach them well and let them lead the way, show them all the beauty they possess inside. Give them a sense of pride to make it easier, let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be. Right?

The world's fate is determined by the actions of the humans on it, and our actions are functions of our consciousness, which is influenced by our upbringing. No teacher, tutor, maid, au pair, day-care slave or babysitter can give your child as valuable an education as you can. Nor can your husband. So rather than outsource the task to some stranger or your lesser half, do it yourself. It's one of the things women were put on this earth to do. And that's not some slight. The fact that you have been gifted the ability to shape our future by cultivating the minds of those individuals who will inhabit posterity is proof of your superiority. Because the job is awesome. You are not some second-class citizen but shaper of the race, CEO of our destiny. I'd take that over head of Merck any day. 

What really is thankless and almost worthless is the office job held by most providers, many of them traditionally male. A sedentary existence pushing paper and staring at screens to earn money by making more of it for one's boss without building anything or producing tangible results (as in, say, a child who lives and breathes and says "Mommy you're my universe!"). Leave such grunt work to lesser individuals, ie males. Women, focus on our children. The world needs you. Plus, you get to stay at home, and from one homebody to another, is there any place you'd rather be? Where else than your own domicile do you have such easy access to those twin essentials, the kitchen and the bathroom? A stay-at-home mom's life is a writer's dream I guess. Live it.

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