Q&A: I'm so incensed I can't even think of a good title for this

Let's talk about institutional sexism, shall we?

Kay writes:

"I am so angry and upset today by a parenting-work issue that I feel the need to write to someone. This morning when I got to work, I found that my department had pretty much decided to shift a significant amount of teaching (I'm a full-time college professor, based in [location redacted]) to the 5-7pm slot. When I pointed out that I have to pick up my son from childcare during those hours, a colleague replied that my 'preferences' would be taken into account but that the time change seemed necessary, for reasons that I don't agree with but won't get into here. What this boils down to is that I will effectively be excluded from involvement in a high-profile course that I designed and ran for several years pre-baby, which will in itself have a not insignificant impact on my career. I'm really furious at my female colleague describing my need to leave work by 5:30 as a 'preference'. I'm already excluded from a lot of more informal meetings, seminars, social events etc that happen after hours, and since I returned from maternity leave I feel very much out of the loop - I work with over 40 colleagues, and only one other is a woman with children; many of the men have children, but all without exception have wives or partners who work part-time and do the bulk of the childcare. My husband does a lot, but he is full-time as well.

I guess my question is: should I just admit to myself that choosing to have children means that I cannot do my job in the same way? Should I suck it up? I love my job, and I'm really, really good at it. I find it very hard to accept the extent to which having children has placed me on the sidelines. I have the impression that most women with children in my profession deploy a 'don't rock the boat' policy, and my colleagues pretty much expect me to do likewise. But as this email suggests, the result of this for me is that I end up filled with unproductive anger and bitterness. I would love to know how other Moxie-ites deal with this. Have other professional women managed to reach a zen-like state of calm about their career prospects - or lack of - post-children? Or are they fighting in the trenches? And more prosaically, how do people who use childcare deal with employer expectations of late working hours?"

This makes me want to scream.

It is 2010.

People have children. Children grow into adults. If we don't want our species to die out, then we *all* need to be invested in helping parents raise their children in the most efficient, humane way possible, *while still using their natural talents to contribute to their fields*.

I am sure that this child-free female colleague doesn't realize that in hurting another woman she's hurting herself. Nor do the men who free-ride on their wives childcare to advance their careers realize that by staying silent and letting the workplace require work that could be scheduled at other times, they are hurting their female children (at the very least) and all of society.

I'm feeling extremely lucky about my work situation now, but I *know* some of you are dealing with this same crap every minute and have some great things to say. And I know some of you are *not* dealing with this and could add some useful comments about how things go where you are. And I'm wondering if those of you who are doing the childcare for partners to be in the workforce could make an effort to make your partner aware that not everyone s/he works with has this backup, and if there's anything that can be done in their workplaces to make things more equitable.

Talk to me.