Commentary

AAPG and Gender

Katie Joe McDonough, who holds a doctorate from Colorado School of Mines, is a consulting geologist/geophysicist with KJM Consulting, Pine, Colo
Katie Joe McDonough, who holds a doctorate from Colorado School of Mines, is a consulting geologist/geophysicist with KJM Consulting, Pine, Colo
I have some thoughts on Doe We Burst Bubbles, or Will We Bust the Ceiling, May 2014 President's Column" class="" href="http://www.aapg.org/publications/news/explorer/column/articleid/9517/do-we-burst-bubbles-or-will-we-bust-the-ceiling" target="_self" >Do We Burst Bubbles, or Will We Bust the Ceiling? , which dealt with women, leadership and AAPG.

First of all, great kudos to you for addressing the issue, and for the many positive points that you made in the writing. I totally agree that AAPG (and many other male-dominated professional organizations) is/are missing out by not tapping into the wealth of resources available in a diverse and multi-faceted membership.

Your column, however, belies an underlying societal perspective that actually lies at the heart of the problem. The two admonitions I would add are:

We’re still in a mode of “leaving it up to the men” to facilitate women’s participation.

The verbs you used in your writing serve to illustrate the prevailing perspective, which is a deep-seated part of the problem. It’s all about the guys “allowing, providing, inviting, making room,” etc. – so the decisions are still (ironically, considering the problem you are addressing) left up to the guys to “do to” or “do for” the women.

Guys, you’re still in rescue mode.

How about you just treat female professionals similarly to your male colleagues – listen to (and act on!) our ideas, challenge us, discuss with us and, yes, encourage us when opportunities come along, just as you would for any male colleague.

And ladies, aren’t we beyond the Era of Rescue? Let’s step up and speak up! Don’t wait to be invited. And see below.

The erroneous but oft-repeated-until-it-seems-true statement about women bearing the brunt of having and caring for their children needs serious re-evaluation.

Biology obviously dictates the “having” part, but the “caring” part being the woman’s responsibility alone is unnecessary, a cop-out by both genders and, frankly, a damn shame for all the enrichment lost to both children and adults.

The rewards and life-changing experience of molding young minds (and yes, changing the diapers associated with those young minds) is available to both genders, and the only way we will develop a societal mindset that respects childrearing is by both genders insisting that everyone participate – and honoring and facilitating that participation.

We need either or both genders clamoring to take time out for a Procreational Sabbatical (as my C.V. reads), and being respected for doing so, instead of viewing it as taking a hit at a critical time in their careers.

(An example of that facilitation is the employer for whom I worked paper seismic data on our Lyons SS kitchen bar while preschoolers napped).

So guys, let’s back up your offers of help a few years to a point where it genuinely makes a difference – to the childbearing years – and cease perpetuating the notion that the three choices the President’s Column laid out so eloquently for women to make are only for the women to make (it’s the third millennium, after all!).


There is a fourth option, and that is to decide that the “tough choices” can and should be up to both genders. I realize that this may involve a fundamental shift in our societal thinking; unfortunately the current mentality (by both genders) implies that we harbor a level of disrespect and even disdain for child rearing.

I envision a future where childrearing becomes a revered as opposed to onerous task (Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg not withstanding) – so I challenge us all:

Men: Can you honestly say that you think that raising children is important enough that you would take paternity leave or convince your workplace to let you work a flex schedule for a few years – or even quit?

So, did you? Will you? Are you willing to reschedule a business trip (ask a female colleague to pick that core point!) to make sure you make your daughter’s band concert? Maybe it’s easier to assume that the choice is all up to the woman, or that “she wants to do it?”

And while I’m at it, why not use that management position to argue forcibly for family perks for our younger male and female professionals, to facilitate everyone’s participation?

Women: Let’s step up and lean in!

I do mean at work, in all the ways that Lee Krystinik mentioned in his column (without waiting to be “invited,” of course!), but I also mean at home – stop the Superwoman nonsense and make sure that both genders are “balancing work and family” (how many times have you heard a guy discuss that?), whether you have kids or not.

Women may have to push things a bit until the mentality changes, but many guys are pretty reasonable – particularly when you argue fairness issues (“I’m in meetings until 5:30 too, and I only get paid 75 percent of what you do!”).

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