It's almost like a Aniston vs. Angelina tabloid story: Researchers are reporting that women who do not have children are considerably less sympathetic than men to mothers trying to juggle home and career. Ben Black, founder of a UK child-care company, commissioned something called "The Working Mothers' Report" and found that 52% of the 15,000 moms polled said it was easier to blame traffic or the alarm clock than admit child-care problems had made them late. Also, between maternity leave and flexible schedules, moms felt that women without children perceived them as enemies "to be left behind on the corporate ladder."
On the UK feminist blog The F Word, Louise Livesey responds: "The report admonish(es) women for behaving like, well like ambitious men..." Of the 52% of moms who would rather blame the alarm clock than their kids, she says:"We generally have to explain lateness to bosses and bosses tend to be men... this isn't a woman-woman problem but that workplaces are not accommodating to parenting at all."
It's hard to know how to feel about all this. Women should be supporting women, obviously. But as a childless woman who worked with — and for — women with children, I often felt jealous of colleagues/bosses who would leave work to go pick up kids or attend dance recitals. Sometimes I felt like I was being punished for not reproducing, because while mom was out of the office delivering cupcakes, guess who was picking up the slack? But it's a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation — working moms who don't go to school plays and class birthday parties can feel punished for reproducing, or worse — heartlessly ambitious and neglectful (are dads ever scrutinized so closely?).
The one thing in the story that did resonate with me however, was this quote:
The report paints a picture of women undermining and undercutting each other, vying for advancement and sometimes filled with resentment.
Livesey from The F Word writes, "Why (oh why, oh why) is it that it's women being compared to women here?" But we know exactly why: Because we're all guilty of what Tina Fey, in Mean Girls, called "girl on girl crime". In some ways, the world is the same it was in 4th grade: Catty, sneaky, full of judgments, gloating over microvictories and contests of one-upmanship.