Mark Hammer

A lovely piece. Thank you.

In repayment, I will recommend taking a look at the work of the late Rhona Rapoport and Lotte Bailyn, such as this book – http://www.amazon.ca/Beyond-Work-Family-Balance-Advancing-Performance/dp/0787957305 – or this one – http://books.google.ca/books/about/Relinking_Life_and_Work.html?id=NFMrpZxoqFEC

One of the more interesting points they make might be described as a “semiotic” analysis. They argue (quite persuasively, in my view) for looking at work-family conflicts and gender equity in the workplace in terms of the signs and omens of “commitment” and “competence” within the culture of the organization. One of the arguments they make is that a great many of the tacit indicators of those two important employee qualities are couched within a post-war traditional male role, making it difficult for women to display the sorts of behaviours that lead them to become perceived as “a team player” and “dedicated star” in a great many cases.

One of the other points they make equally persuasively is that many of these signs and omens may actually be nothing of the sort, and that organizations would do themselves a big favour by re-examining and re-evaluating those behaviours felt/perceived to be signs of commitment and/or competence. I apologize for having mentioned it in past, and mentioning it again here, but the poster child for this is the episode of Seinfeld where George Costanza has to leave his car overnight at work, and becomes perceived as a hard worker because he was (presumably) the last person to leave, and the first person to arrive at work in the morning. Not quite the signifier of commitment that people thought it was.

Finally, as I always hasten to remind folks, “life” is not an imposition on the workplace. Rather, work is to be mapped onto a life, already in progress. Work and business and government can be fascinating and eminently useful things, but they serve people, not the other way around. I think many gender inequity issues emerge out of forgetting that aspect.