A while back I met a young (white) woman at a party. During the course of a getting to know each other conversation, she said that she wished she had lived during the US Civil Rights era so that she could have been a part of that movement. I was taken aback. I was a young child during some of those later years and feel only gratitude for those who did the heavy lifting. It didn't look glamorous or fun, and progress appeared to be expensive for many involved. I don't remember witnessing too many experiences I'd wish on anyone.
Over the years, I've thought a lot about that conversation. It caused me to recognize that movements are often costly, not everyone is capable of rising to the occasion (to drive for change), and many seemingly well-intentioned people impede progress if only via their indifference.
I often ask myself questions like, "What are the most important movements occurring now?", "Who most needs my support?", "How am I most qualified to help?", and "What can I do to leave the world in better shape than I found it?" As a busy working parent, I tried to make contributions, but never felt like there was enough time to do all of the things I wanted to do.
Then, a few years ago, I retired from a demanding career in high tech. Now I have more time. More time to think, more time to help, and more time to just be.
Recently, I started noticing that more women are complaining about the gender wage gap. These women feel strongly that their daughters should have the same opportunities as their sons, and they want all of their children to be compensated fairly. Interestingly, the vast majority of the women speaking out either aren't employed or they're underemployed. When I mentioned this to my husband recently and asked why women are starting to complain more, he speculated, "My guess is that they've been complaining all along, but you were too busy trying to create opportunities and close the wage gap to notice." The he reminded me of the Amelia Earhart quote: "Never interupt someone doing what you said couldn't be done."
Change is hard, and progress is rarely the result of a request (or a complaint). Driving real change takes effort, and it often requires sacrifice. Parents who want their children to have many opportunitites and receive fair compensation can rarely avoid effort and/or sacrifice. The parents best positioned to drive these changes are the ones with the most opportunities and capabilities. Could that be you?
If so, here are some things you can do to drive changes that will benefit your children:
It's not reasonable to expect our daughters to enter a workforce that treats them fairly, if we're not willing to help drive the changes we want to see. As Joseph Ranseth encouraged, "Be the change you want to see in the world."
-- Unpaid Parental Leave