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Why Flexibility Isn’t Just for the Mommy Track

Source |Slate.com |  BY:Morra Aarons-Mele

This is an adapted excerpt from Hiding in the Bathroom: An Introvert’s Roadmap for Getting Out There (When You’d Rather Stay Home), which is out now from HarperCollins.

It’s 2:30 p.m., and you’re stuck at your desk. The Slack channel is throbbing, the fluorescents are giving you a migraine, and you keep getting interrupted. You could probably finish your work if you could do it at home, but you’re up for a promotion. You want your boss to see you’re working hard.

Then you see your co-worker leave to pick up her kids, and then will sign on from home later. Lucky her, you think. But here’s the secret: Unlike you, she’d do anything to stay at the office, because she likes to be in the thick of it, gets distracted working from home, and is also aiming for a promotion.

The notion of working flexibly has gotten seriously mommy-tracked. Work-life balance and flexible work arrangements are so strongly correlated with parenthood that we assume a successful childless person prioritizes careeradvancement over anything else, and that a colleague who leaves early doesn’t take her job seriously. Both the parent furtively checking emails at soccer and colleague without caregiving responsibilities who’s stuck at a desk are in a system that equates face time with ambition.

When I quit my last full-time job, it was years before I got pregnant. I just couldn’t stand the hyperstimulation of the office environment. (And this was before Slack and Twitter!) I loved my work. I just hated going to the office.

Here’s the truth: Some working parents want to work all the time; some professionals without children want a less draining schedule​. We learned many years ago that, in the workplace, autonomy and control help engage people, whether

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