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Episode #20

Women as Moms-in-Chief at the National Conventions

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Friday, September 07, 2012

Conventional visions of women were at the heart of the Republican and Democratic national conventions, especially in the speeches given by Ann Romney and Michelle Obama.

The first lady and the Republican candidate's wife dazzled delegates and pundits alike when they used the lens of the family to make the case that their husbands should be president.

Both women were clearly speaking from the heart, but the experiences of each have been very different.
 
While Mitt Romney built a career in business and then politics, Ann stayed at home to raise their five sons. He was the breadwinner and she was the caretaker.

But family life was not as cut and dried in the Obama household. When Barack and Michelle first met, she was the high-powered lawyer and he was the community organizer and summer associate.

This week on WNYC's Money Talking, contributors Rana Foroohar and Joanne Lipman look at where women stand in the workplace in 2012 as moms-in-chief take center stage at the conventions.

Hosted by:

Charlie Herman

Contributors:

Rana Foroohar and Joanne Lipman
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Comments [1]

Dee from New Jersey

You guys (and gals) and really out of touch on this one. This conversation that pits the domestic woman against the career woman is about 25 years too old. The issues and tough questions facing women today have moved past that old dividing line and most of us that ingested enough 1980's style feminism are hoping for more evolved conversations; and we want a First Lady (or better yet, president) that understands the entangled issues. Families today are economically strapped and therefore women today feel they must work and many are trying to juggle work with raising kids. What about the right for women to stay home (if they desire) to raise their kids? Most families can't afford it and the U.S. provides no support for stay at home mothers. What about aftercare and before care school programs for working mothers who need a safe place for their kids? What about reentry and job training programs for moms who have stayed home with preschoolers and now need to get back into the work place? Ever see a mother of little kids who can't "multi-task"? But just try putting "stay at home mom" on a resume; a woman would get laughed out the door. The fact is that we just don't appreciate stay at home moms as professionals; hence the conversation that you all were having about why Michelle chose to "downplay" her professional credentials. Likewise, the domestic challenges for career woman are overlooked. Consider the 30-year old career woman who finally begins hitting her stride and higher pay scale just as her career goals collide with her desire to start a family? If she choses to stay home she's "turning her back" on her career. (That, by the way, is one of the reasons that there remains a pay gap for women.) And once she drops out of the career race, she loses credibility as a serious career woman (afterall she's staying home to change diapers) and she knows it. The demands on woman today are enormous; it's no longer a question of either or (career v. domestic); it's a question of how (how to juggle both). Quite frankly, Michelle is fortunate that she has been able to embrace both roles with power, intellect and maternal prowess. Many of us women watching her shine on stage wish we could appear half as graceful in our own lives.

Sep. 08 2012 12:56 PM

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