Throughout our lives as modern women, we wear multiple identities. Every day–maybe even every hour–we switch between various roles we play; woman, professional, mother. I am a mother, an attorney, and the former executive director and general counsel for a women’s rights foundation. But I am more than that as well: I am a dreamer, a believer and a proponent of change.
As I have traveled through my adult life, I have often found myself, and the women around me, becoming too wrapped up in either the identity of professional or mother. There never seems to be a satisfying way to merge these identities, two of the major parts that define who I am. Women are constantly faced with this battle and the general consensus finds only one solution: Satisfy one identity and neglect the other.
Let’s face it: the 9-to-5 work model fits into the patriarchal structure of our society. It allows for only one partner, generally the man, to have both a satisfying career and family life. Somebody needs to be home – whether it is driving the kids to school and back, making dinner, or just generally keeping the house in order, someone needs to be there. And with childcare, it’s often more expensive for both parents to work and hire a nanny than for one to stay-at-home. And I don’t have to tell you how tough it is to be a stay at home mother; Steven Nelms of Dallas, TX calculated, based on similar services produced by professional home assistance companies, that stay at home mothers should be making $73,960 a year, and that’s a conservative number!
And being a working mother is no picnic in the park either. Women all over the world are pitching in on this topic: From Anne-Marie Slaughter’s 2012 Atlantic article to PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi’s comments at the Aspen Ideas Festival this summer, women are talking. Women work hard, and when we work, we invest our whole selves into our jobs. Working mothers then find it hard to balance the attention and care one needs and wants to devote to a child versus the attention and care one needs and wants to devote to their jobs. Working mothers almost always feel as if they’re being stretched in two, pulled in opposite directions. This effect is so strong that a 2010 study conducted by Georgetown University found that employee stress about their children after school is associated with decreased productivity and increased absenteeism.
I have felt this tension in my own life and was determined to fix it. In founding Inkwell, I want to revolutionize the traditional work model.
If mothers, professionals, and all women, are given the flexibility they need to devote all of themselves to both their professional and personal lives, I believe that workforce will finally see the change it needs.
Women can work just as hard as men, but because the majority of household responsibilities still fall on women, they need flexibility to make it all work. Inkwell works by pairing professional mothers with companies looking for contracted part time or full time (but flexible) experts in different fields, allowing women to work on their own terms, on a schedule that fits their lives.
With Inkwell, I hope to not only change the workforce, but also change the way mothers and professionals view their lives, not as either/or, but as one cohesive identity. Women can have it all, but we need to start defining the terms of the arrangement.