Interesting in light of recent conversation about women and career advancement

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums GENERAL DISCUSSION Interesting in light of recent conversation about women and career advancement

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    Tanya Olson

    Not to be contrary, but many of the women landscape architects do indeed have small children at 45 having postponed childbearing to the last possible minute to give their careers the best possible base. Even for women well-established in their careers, there is the constant worry – ‘are they going to think I’m less committed to my career because I have children?.” Have any men here ever has these thoughts? I would bet not. Its just not in our cultural frame of reference.

    That said – companies that have flexible schedules, work from home allowances, more women in leadership roles etc. find much greater productivity and employee loyalty than companies that don’t – among ALL employees. Everyone benefits from this kind of ‘personal responsibility’ model of business whether they have children or not.

    I think of landscape architects stuck in front of computers for 60-70 hours a week and wonder how they can ever understand anything about their projects. It just doesn’t work for our profession – we need to be out in the world experiencing life, observing people going about their business which includes all sizes of people playing and interacting in different types of spaces. Landscape architects are prime as a profession to create a new business model where life experience counts (as it clearly does). We can place value on the ebb and flow of life, whether its raising children, caring for elderly parents, mountain climbing or fulfilling military committments. Maybe we are creating this already and just leading from behind (haha).

    There are a number of people on these boards who appear to have made choices that serve non-parenting personal needs, insisting that their professions work around these needs. How have their careers faired? Do they experience the same type of dismissal that women who are mothers tend to get?

    I’m starting to gain persective as our kids get older, as Leslie points out, having “passed through the eye of the needle”, and having created a business model that works for the entire family, feels equitable, provides for the needs of all. Though as I’m writing this I can’t help but be aware of our incredible priviledge even being able to raise these questions….certainly many women and families are at the mercy of their employers….for me personally this is solely a consequence of my college degree. I should kiss my loan statement everytime I get it in the mail!

    Leslie B Wagle

    Well, yes the later-arriving initial children would be included in the “waves of needs” – and in my comment on “variables.” They could indeed ensure a situation for parents as complicated as any other!

    Heather Smith

    I am not sure I get exactly what you are asking but will try to answer. 🙂 No buzz saws from me. I think women should have the choice of career, family or both. I think depending on the stage of the woman’s life this will look different. I think it is ridiculous to hear other women judge a stay at home mother as weak…just as it is annoying to say that a woman that chooses or has to work as not caring as much about her children. Feminism isn’t about just allowing women the opportunity to have a career but also about celebrating the other aspects of a woman’s life including times when she may choose to care for her children at home.

    Since I still have a baby and I don’t have enough work to keep me busy I am the one in our family that is staying home with our children. There is not an underlying belief that I as a woman should stay home…but I want to at this point in my children’s life. I think that is where some people become confused. Why would I want to?  Raising children is not considered as important as working out of the home by many people. I see it as one choice that women have. Others have posted on reasons why women may stay home including such issues as daycare costs.

    I really agree with Tanya’s observation that mothers (and stay at home fathers!) have important things to add to a firm. I can guarantee that I have spent hours observing my children use and experience parks, zoos, aquariums, sidewalks, skate parks, sport fields, etc. I am out there with the very people that these spaces are designed for.

    I tended to a side with the woman in the interview. I don’t agree that a woman should be demoted for pregnancy or ostracized from important meetings.

    Heather Smith

    “You see, my mum taught me that children enslave women. I grew up believing that children are millstones around your neck, and the idea that motherhood can make you blissfully happy is a complete fairytale”

    “Then I meet women in their 40s who are devastated because they spent two decades working on a PhD or becoming a partner in a law firm, and they missed out on having a family. Thanks to the feminist movement, they discounted their biological clocks. They’ve missed the opportunity and they’re bereft.”

    “Even though being out of the mom closet seems to be more acceptable in academia these days, there are nevertheless those higher up–deans, provosts, presidents–who one hesitates to tell. While society seems to believe a male can do any job and be a father too, a woman’s job is often endangered when she becomes a mother. Any weakness is invariably blamed on the fact she is a mother, while the strengths, widening perspectives and multi-tasking mastery she gains from motherhood are rarely acknowledged.”


    I think this topic would be a very interesting masters thesis! I would also be interested to know if someone has studied the career advancement of women without children that work and women that work with children…specifically those that never took extended amounts off to care for children at home.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    I appreciate your perspective very much.


    I’m looking back at if and how choosing to not let a day care raise our child impacted my career. It is a heck of a lot different with one child and being a father rather than a mother and being the one doing the full time job. We decided that we would do it that way prior to starting the family. The only limitations on MY carrer were that I/we were not willing to do extended hours or a long commute in order that I could get home get some family time and add some relief – that was very limiting due to where we chose to live (close to other family). That became more true when Janet started working part time when our daughter was 4. I’d get home and she’d go to her job. It was the best thing in turning from the guy who came home at the end of the day to play to the parent who made dinner, got her ready for bed, read the bedtime story, and such – the best experience of my life.

    Janet, on the other hand, became so removed from her prior career that she now finds herself with a very limited resume and not the type of job that she wants. She is left to either start all over or to roll with what she has. I don’t know what the answer is, but I will say that if we had to do it over again, we’d probably do it the same way. Although it did not work well financially and was career limiting, it worked out great for our daughter.

    Heather Smith

    Thanks for sharing Andrew. I think it is so great that you had a chance to be at home with your daughter. I think it makes parenting more equitable and is so good for our sons and daughters to be around their fathers! I think this is becoming more and more common. In regards to Janet…yes, like I said before I know I will probably be in the same situation. Yet, would choose it again. I would like to think there are seasons in our life and that this season I choose to take part in won’t hobble me professionally down the road. I also like what you mentioned regarding long hours, etc. for yourself. Everyone with family responsibilities whether they be children or elder care end up having to find a balance. We all make those choices everyday. In a culture where work is everything it is hard to see what is important. Relationships with others. Our life experiences do indeed impact the design decisions we make…and like Tanya mentioned I am not sure how living in an office contributes to meaningful design solutions.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    You just reminded me of a professionalmom’s success story.Janet’s sister gave up her professional career to raise her two boys. Her husband gat a geat job as a yacht captain and had to travel to the Carribbean for several weeks at a time in the winter …. and decided the cabin girl was “his soul mate” and left her with the kids (6 and 4) last winter…anyway, she reconnected with classmates from Columbia U, former colleagues, and joined LinkedIn …. got a great job in Boston last spring (commuted 2 hours each way), moved up there in July, and got a huge raise this fall.   … oh, yea, and the yacht got sold and Duce Bigelow may not have a job anymore.

    She sold the house and went through the entire divorce at the same time.


    It can be done.

    Trace One

    I think your paranoia about ‘people wondering why women want to stay home’ is misdirected. MOST women in our society stay home with kids. Our society encourages that, you join the bedrock of american social life (besides church) the public school system where you are asked to volunteer constantly and can sit on the sidelines of your daughters soccer game raising bloody trouble even tho you never played soccer in your life and never could (speaking generally).

    Where are  you getting this weird idea that women with kids are questioned in their decision?

    It is the women without kids who bear the brunt of social stigma.

    Instead of feeling like an outcast that you are not, you need to see how society has set you up to be a stay-at home mom, despite any other considerations or indications that you CAN BE not a mom!!!(shock!) But it will take all the moms fully supporting women professionals, and fighting the societal flood-tide that puts you where you are.

    It’s too bad there has been so much  back-sliding by women.  The “It is our right to be MOM’s! don’t stop me !”attitude has served to put a pall on womens progress as equal to men, despite the fact that, with fifty per-cent of classes in LA filled with women, almost 100% of the professors, a very nice cushy job for an LA, ARE MEN!

    Heather Smith

    Thank you for making my point so well. Where am I questioned for my decision? Well, you insinuate that women are so weak that they are led down a road to motherhood where their days are filled with mindless drivel…like cheering their children on, volunteering at schools and raising future contributing members to our society. You can thank me later when my children start paying your social security. A woman is strong if she doesn’t have children…and a feeble minded, breastfeeding drone if she does. Because see…it couldn’t be that a woman would actually feel happiness and fulfillment by something as simple as motherhood.

    The point I was trying to make is I in fact, see myself as less of a victim then you see yourself. Why you are wondering why there aren’t as many women pursuing high octane careers…I know these women…I run parent toddler co-ops with them and see them at birthday parties. They are law graduates, female politicians and otherwise kicka** women that know what they want. And for periods of their lives that included children.

    There is no question there is discrimination against women in general. I just also believe that it is a little more complicated then that, and that women are also known to make choices for themselves that involve raising a family.

    In regards to societal encouragement…certainly in parts of our culture there is explicit encouragement. But economically? No. There was a time when one parent could work out of the home and comfortably purchase the things they needed. Now, for many families where a parent stays home it is a sacrifice that is chosen. We don’t fall into a stay at home situation…we choose it.

    By the way, I did play soccer…yeah I wasn’t the best. But I loved it and I love watching my kids play it.

    Trace One

    You can thank me while I am paying for your childrens schools!

    Whether you see professional women as feeling victimized or not, the FACTS speak for themselves. It has taken some long hard fighting to get where we are now, after not having property rights with our husbands, etc.. But the fight isn’t over. Women always choose to have kids  – and I am not saying it is not fulfilling, fun, etc. But until those mothers want to fight for their daughter’s  EQUAL OPPORTUNITY and EQUAL PAY, which, Heather, statistically we are NOT EVEN CLOSE TO …until those mothers want their daughters PLanned Parenthood needs treated with as much care as mens Viagra needs are,  women’s rights are backsliding, women’s rights are stalled, with the ‘i want to stay  home movement and society had nothing to do  with it’ taking away what our sisters fought for so bravely and intelligently…

    Do you think the mothers who worked at Wal-mart, full-time jobs, but were for decades denied mangerial positions in lieu of men, did they get enough help from the stay at home moms? Or are the stay at home moms at odds to these poor working women?

    I think the professional women continue to see where the discrimination exists, because they feel it every day..They know we need more equal health care, father’s time off for babies, less volunteers and more professionals used in ‘womens professions’ like teaching, higher pay in women’s profession, like teaching!!!!

    it is apparent to us..

    You can stay home. I can work and not have kids, thank goodness for that. But for women to become equal to men, the stay-at -homes need to realize where they will be soon, and it isn’t fun like raising kids, and discrimination and societal forces w ill limit your choices again. 

    OK! back to some good old internet fighting,  huh, Heather..!

    Your turn!

    Trace One

    ps, Heather, you can also pay me back for the environmental impact you have caused by reproducing – teach your children well, don’t eat meat, and work for the enviornment, where you can..

    Ha..Now that will get ya going!

    Heather Smith

    I don’t feel like fighting. 🙂

    Heather Smith



    May I recommend some prozac with your morning coffee?

    Heather Smith

    That guys sounds like a real winner. 😛 I am so happy for your sister in law that she has been so successful. That has to be the best revenge…haha. Karma.

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