Archive for the ‘women and money’ Category

Lessons From My Daughter’s First Job — A Dream, A Dollar and A Dog

June 27, 2007

Daughter wants a dog
Our daughter really wants a dog. We, her parents, however, do not want to take on this responsibility at this point in our lives. Life is chaotic enough already. However, this does not mean we can’t find creative ways to foster and support our daughter’s interest in and love of animals.

We recently found a great opportunity to do just that. Our neighbors have a dog that doesn’t get taken out on walks very often. So, I asked the couple if we could start walking their dog for them. My girl and I each have a leash and we take the pooch on a walk. It’s a toss up as to who is happier — the dog or my daughter. The dog experiences a smorgasborg of smells and my daughter gets to bond with the animal and pretend for 30-45 minutes that she has her own dog. It’s very sweet.

Dogwalker for hire
Our friends recently approached me to ask me if they could offer my daughter a regular job and pay her $1 every time she walks their dog (about 1x a week). Before I agreed I talked it over with my husband. I wasn’t sure if this was something that our daughter should be getting paid to do. But then I realized that it could offer her some good lessons in learning responsibility and also a sense of pride about doing a job and getting paid for her work (I’m also a big on teaching girls the importance of being paid for their work. This is something I feel that women need to stress to their daughters.)

So, after talking to my husband we agreed it was a great idea. When we mentioned the job offer to our daughter she was beaming. The first thing our girl told her friends the next day at school was “I have a job.” My daughter’s teacher told her she wished she could walk her dog.

Dog poop and responsibility – a lesson learned
Later when my daughter was thinking about her future glory days as a dog walker she said “When I grow up I’m going to be a dog walker and I’m going to hire someone to pick up the poop.”

At this point I told my daughter “Well, you could do that but then you would have to split the money you’ve made with that person. If you pick up the poop yourself you can keep all of the money.”

She thought about that for a moment and I think she realized that it’s worth dealing with a little poop to get the whole dollar.

We haven’t taken the dog out for a walk yet now that she’s his official walker but once we do I’m going to encourage her to learn how to clean up after the dog. Up until this point I’ve been her pooper scooper. But now that she’s getting paid for this work she needs to do the whole job. If she’s not up to that then yours truly will be pocketing 50 cents per walk.

Perhaps other readers think this is too rigid? Or that I should help my daughter out by cleaning up the poop. I for one don’t think there’s any lesson offered to my daughter if I do the job for her.

One of my coworkers told me “well, it’s good for her to understand that sometimes you have to get a little dirty to get a job done.” I also think she’s up to doing the whole job and that she will enjoy reaping all of the rewards.

Others thoughts?


Daughters and Mothers: Stick up for Yourselves NOW

June 7, 2007

Boston Gal’s Open Wallet  has a post about a recent article in the Harvard Crimson called “Harvard ’07 Men Make More.” The article mentions that women’s starting salaries lag by 10K. From the article

One of the economists who reviewed The Crimson’s data, Linda Babcock of Carnegie Mellon University, has found that men are more likely to negotiate their starting salaries, while women are more likely to accept their employer’s first offer. In a study of Carnegie Mellon business school graduates, Babcock found that 57 percent of men “asked for more”—while just 7 percent of women tried to negotiate.

Why do women have such a hard time negotiating and asking for raises? What is the psychology behind that? How can we create a society in which our girls and their mothers demand fair payment for their work? After seeing how my smart, educated mother did such a poor job of making sure she got paid for her work I am adamant about sticking up for myself. I admit that when I have asked for a raise it hasn’t always been easy. But what do we have to lose? It’s important to stick up for ourselves.

I remember when one of my college roomates was given an opportunity to take over her old boss’s job she called me for advice. This friend is a mother of two and was working a four day work week. Her boss’s job would mean more responsibility and more pay. She was nervous about taking the job mostly because of her family at home. I encouraged her to take it and to make sure she got the same salary as her old boss and the ability to continue working just 4 days a week. I told my friend “Look, if you don’t take it you will still take on that work because they will likely hire someone new who doesn’t have your experience at the company. Then you’ll be in a position where you’re supporting a new boss, working just as hard as you would have and not making any more money.” I talked her through it and she took the job and was very happy she did.

Balancing a work career and a family is very tough but I think a lot of working mothers sell themselves short by taking less challenging or high-paying jobs because they worry about not being able to do both. But the reality my feeling is that as long as you’re at work you aren’t at home so you might as well try to get as much money as you can.

There is a part of me who is jealous of women who don’t HAVE to work. And there is a part of me who fantasizes about not having to work. But when I’m really honest with myself I don’t know that I could ever NOT earn money. Also from my own observation of life I don’t think it’s healthy for roles in a family to be so polarized. I think everyone in a family should contribute. Dads and Moms should help with childcare, bedtime, errands, making meals, packing lunches, taking the kids to the pediatrician. Dads and Moms should both contribute financially too. When I see couples where the roles are divided I often see a lack of balance. This whole family division of labor is a very hot topic and can make women hostile to one another. I do not belittle the work that stay-at-home mothers do to support their families or run a household. I wish I had more time to devote to this myself. Still, instead of getting defensive why aren’t mothers and fathers banding together to try to make changes that allow our society to have better balance?

I remember a few years ago there was an article published in the NYTimes magazine about more and more highly educated women (Ivy League educated) deciding to leave their careers so that they could have better balance in their lives. The most interesting thing about the article was the letters to the editor. First of all most women don’t have an option to quite their jobs….the article featured such a small slice of society. I remember one letter asking where is the balance of leaving your job and being at home doing 100% percent of the childcare?

During my blog travels today I also happened upon a popular post called “Raising a Family on One Income (Part Two)”. The writer, a woman. actually says

Every week my husband gives me an allotted amount of money to spend.”

Excuse me? Did I read that correctly? Your husband gives you an allowance? Are you his child? I’m sorry but this doesn’t seem healthy to me. I think money should be managed jointly. And to me this means no one in the couple doles out allowances. Shouldn’t couples decide on how they will spend their money together?