I was super annoyed by this story that appeared on the front page of the New York Times Monday (and stayed on the "most emailed articles" list all week), Many Women at Elite Colleges Set Career Path to Motherhood ,
about how the smartest girls are planning to become stay-at-home moms because "you can't be the best career woman and the best mother at the same time."
1) This story doesn't at all recognize that being able to stay home is for rich people. Most mothers of even young children work. They work because they have to.
2) The story doesn't ask young men about their behavior or assumptions, except for one girl's comment that guys think women who aspire to be wives are "sexy." What happened to encouraging fathers to be more involved?
3) Both the writer, Louise Story, and the women she interviews take it as a given ("obvious") that working results in an inferior outcome for children. Not so!
4) I hate to see this kind of message out there for people like my sister, an 18-year-old freshman at Yale. When you are still forming your career aspirations and the pressure to be the "best" at something is so great, it is easy to fall back on daydreams about retreating into that perfect family life. When I was 6, no lie, I decided I would marry a rich man because only rich wives don't have to work. I would have maids to do my housework, leaving me plenty of time to play games and make up stories.
In the real world, most of us are not the absolute best at anything. But it doesn't mean we should close off our ambitions.
But after I got all worked up about it, Jack Shafer of Slate's Pressbox column wrote an awesome takedown of the story, pointing out that it is based on no real numbers and relies on "weasel words" like "Many" to disguise that fact.