Unfortunately, those publications are not limiting their advice to those drippy subjects. These days, they're wading into the whole work/life balance mess, targeting moms who work, once worked, or would like to go back to work.
To cheer on this generation of conflicted women, they're offering advice about how women can have a spectacular career while fulfilling their noble role as nurturers of the species. The oft-cited solution—drum roll, please—is job flexibility. It goes something like this: Golly, if you just put your mind to it, why shouldn't you rise to the top of your field from your own kitchen, with the little darlings hanging at your feet?
Feeding this fantasy is Working Mother magazine, which lists "15 Surprising Work-From-Home Jobs." Out of curiosity, I checked what those careers might be.
Some of them seem plausible enough: Bilingual technical adviser, grant writer, vacation counselor (is "travel agent" no longer an acceptable term?), and CEO (which is a fancy way of saying that you work for yourself). Some of the other proposed jobs sound a bit obscure (county transportation planner, online fitness coach, and community garden director). Then there are a bunch of jobs that I'm not convinced can be performed at home, including director of global advertising, project manager, and nurse coach.
But I really hit the roof with this one: senior trial attorney! The author, Sara Sutton Fell (who happens to run a business call FlexJobs.com), writes:
Virtual attorney positions have starting popping up throughout the country. Attorneys looking for work from around the U.S. can find work-from-home positions. This allows them to provide counsel from their home offices, while still collaborating with coworkers through a variety of communication tools. Virtual attorney positions can be found with large, national law firms or with law firm staffing companies and lawyer-on-call firms.
I'm sure there are virtual legal positions out there—sexy jobs like reviewing reams of tedious documents online—but "senior trial attorney"? Are you kidding me? Doesn't being a "trial" lawyer mean you have to show up in court? Is the author just totally clueless about law practice? Or is she trying way too hard to be encouraging about the type of legal work you can do from home?
But what truly bothers me about this type of article (aside from the lie it tells) is that it depends on magical thinking—that women can play traditional mom, do challenging work without leaving the house, and somehow reach the top.
I don't know any women with real-world experience who would find this plausible. You can do a lot of jobs from home—but being a trial lawyer, or any high-level lawyer? I don't think so.
But what's offensive (and patronizing) is that the author and Working Mother seem to think that women will buy this stuff.
Get The Careerist in your morning e-mail. Sign up today—see box on upper right corner.
Do you have topics you'd like to discuss or tips to share? E-mail The Careerist's chief blogger, Vivia Chen, at [email protected]