Wednesday, March 5, 2008


There is a well-written blog on GMA about the choices women have today in terms of career opportunities and changes we've experienced over the past generation or so.
The writer does not wax poetic; she comments on situations that seem to ask "How far have we, as women, really advanced from previous generations and how inclusive are the opportunities?" I am especially struck by the writing because I watched "Sicko" last night. "Sicko" is Michael Moore's movie about the state of health coverage in the U.S.
He asks similar questions, "How far has medical coverage changed from previous generations and how inclusive is it?" The answers to both questions seem to be that the ideal is in our hearts but reality lags far behind.

I work in the broadcast industry where I've been in sales for 27 years. About 8 years into my career, I made the decision to step down from management in order to have less desk time and more free time with my children. I bypassed a management job offer with Gannett to return to local sales so I would be more available. We did not have daycare, job-sharing or flexible hours in broadcasting and I agonized over the decision but I made it anyway. For the next three years, I worked for a manager who would penalize me every time I was late to the station, even by five minutes. He actually stood at the door, tapping his watch, when anyone, particularly me, came in past 8am. At the time, my husband worked out of town and I was getting up @ 5am each day in order to get my toddlers ready for their country day school and myself ready for work. The plans was to drop them by 7am and go but often each one would grab onto my legs and start crying while the teacher murmured, "Just go. They'll be fine." I would then cry all the way to work! My boss didn't give a rat's ass about my parenting problems or anything else. He took great pride in the fact he had never had to deal with his daughter's illnesses, school matters or anything because his "wife did it." Well, I didn't last too long in that job and I did find a great job with a manager who agreed to my working half days and trusted me to meet my billing goals. When he left, I was faced with a female replacement who immediately insisted I could not possibly do a credible job part-time and wanted half my billing list to give other salespeople. I quit. The joke is, I had been more productive during the six months working half days than I had the first year working full time. I had stopped worrying about the quality time I could or could not give my children. I was "having it all."

In the movie last night, Moore interviews a table of Americans living and working in Paris. They enjoy mandated 35 hour work weeks, 5 weeks of vaca, free health care (courtesy of the govenment) and extended time off when a baby is born. In Canada, he interviewed people of all ages and walks of life enjoying govenment-provided, aka "socialized", health care. All interviewees were enthusiastic, citing no long waits, no pre-approvals necessary, no fear of being "denied" and no bills or co-pays. It is all taken care of. He even took a group of 911 Rescue Workers to Cuba for health care after our government refused to aid them medically. The Cuban government provided great health care at no cost to these people who returned to the US in better shape than when they had left!

What is the point of all this? Have we all just been fed a bill of goods over the years that we are the best, the brightest; that we can do anything; that our services reign supreme; that we are citizens of the United States of America, the greatest country in the world? Is any of it true? If women have come so far, why aren't there more women in top management in broadcasting? I believe the per centage is the same now as in the mid-80's: about 15-17%. Why is our health care system broken? What is really going on here?

Right now, I can think of one way to attack both issues with one blow: I am voting for Hillary Clinton. She is the toughest candidate out there and I know she will overhaul our health care system. It's her mission. This woman has been bad-mouthed, vilified, and stop-gapped at every turn. When she attempted to create a national health care plan in '93, she was crucified for it. Our country desperately needs a solution to our health care woes. Anyone who doesn't agree should see "Sicko" and compare our health care to that of other European nations as well as Canada.

As for a woman becoming president, it's about time. What a great role model for women. What a great precedent for our gender. Give 'em hell, Hillary!

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