This Scientist Sums up Working From Home While Parenting in Single Tweet
The struggle is real.
Parenting is a challenge on the best of days, but 2020 has taken those days and yeeted them into the sun. Since schools and daycares closed in the spring, parents across the country have struggled to juggle working from home while raising their children. The work-parenting balance is a tricky needle to thread in normal times, but in our current pandemic hellscape, it is nigh impossible.
So, when Dr. Gretchen Goldman posted the following tweet, parents everywhere could immediately relate:
— Gretchen Goldman, PhD (@GretchenTG) September 15, 2020
Goldman, who is the research director for the Center for Science and Democracy, appeared on The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer to discuss Trump appointing climate change denier David Legates to The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). And while Goldman looked professional in her network appearance, she posted a side photo that revealed the situation all parents currently find themselves in—which is pants-less in a messy room.
In an interview with Buzzfeed News, Goldman said, “I guess I just wanted to be honest about the situation because a lot of people are struggling right now, and I think it’s helpful to be reminded that it’s not you alone. We all don’t have it together.”
Goldman only had 45 minutes to prep for her TV appearance, “and that’s prepared both in terms of content and appearance,” adding, “And because of expectations on women on camera, a significant part of that time has to also be spent on my physical appearance and then getting the right setup.”
As a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists, Goldman is no stranger to televised appearances, but like all things, the pandemic has made everything harder to navigate. “Normally, if that happened in the middle of the workday, it wouldn’t be as big of a deal, right?” she said. “I would walk a few blocks to the CNN studio, go record and I wouldn’t have to rearrange my house and make sure that children and their things were out of the camera view and out of the sound space.”
And while most of us aren’t appearing on the national news, we’ve all experienced the rush to fix lighting and make the top half of our bodies presentable for Zoom meetings and the like. Good Morning America reporter Will Reeve was caught pants-less during a televised appearance in April.
Goldman touches on the untenable situation most parents now find themselves in, unable to parent and work effectively, their concentration pulled in every direction. She said, “We’re not near any extended family or anything so we really needed that paid, outside-the-house care to give us that time and space to work … Normally I would have a lot more freedom and the time and space to have uninterrupted time, and I think that’s one of the biggest impacts on professionals now is the lack of uninterrupted time.”
Currently, I’m writing this article from my home, where my toddler is trying to steal my mouse pad from under my hand. As I’m writing, I’m also reciting from memory Dr. Seuss’s Oh the Thinks You Can Think, which we read 5–6 times every day. It’s an especially challenging time for those of us with little kids who have grown out of infancy but aren’t yet in school. As the mother of a 2 year old and a 4 year old, Goldman summed it up aptly, saying, “By the end of the day, parents, employees are just mentally exhausted.”
It’s especially frustrating for mothers, who are expected to take on the majority of the parenting. Many are speculating that the pandemic will have drastic effects on women’s careers, with many women moving to part-time or leaving their jobs to provide full-time childcare.
“It’s entirely unsustainable. It’s just laughably infeasible for parents to be working like this,” Goldman said. “There’s a lot of threats under COVID, and I do want to acknowledge that it’s a privilege to be able to work from home safely with your kids. But at the same time, I am very concerned with how this is going to adversely affect women’s careers, especially in science where women are already underrepresented, and people of color are underrepresented, and this is going to exacerbate and dismantle a lot of the progress that we’ve made on that diversity.”
(via Buzzfeed News, featured image: Twitter/@GretchenTG)
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