Tempeh over at Mothers in Medicine wrote a great post about speaking up and making our lives visible - in particular, the parts of our lives that involve walking out the door at a reasonable hour and/or working part-time so that we can be present for our families and ourselves as well as for our jobs. She says "it's time to end the stigma of working parenthood", and she's right.
I wrote about this early in the life of our blog - when I was still working part-time - and it wasn't just about part-time work. The macho culture that prizes long hours is prevalent here, and it's not enough to be here from dawn to dark. We know who the really hard workers are because they're visibly overwhelmed. They look tired. They eat protein bars in the hallway because they don't have time for lunch. Their desks are piled high with charts and un-filled-out billing sheets and unread journals. They never answer their Email, and their voicemail is full. If they're male and not entirely obnoxious to their support staff, they have a coterie of women hovering around them urging them to take care of themselves, to eat a little something, to slow down, and offering to take just one thing off that pile.
For the last four years I was in primary care, the group management miscalculated my productivity in a way that underestimated it by about 30%. This didn't change my salary, which was related to the money collected, but every quarter they'd publish a list of our productivity, and every quarter I'd remind someone that they were calculating mine wrong. Finally, the last quarter before I moved over to hospice, they fixed it - and I went from being in the middle of the pack to being the second most productive primary care physician out of 60 in the group. Our regional manager came to see me and said "I made them run the calculations twice, because I couldn't believe it". Why couldn't she believe it? "You never looked like you were working that hard".
I love my work. I'm lucky to have a good visual memory and to be able to process written information very quickly. But I worked hard over the years to acquire good time-management skills and to build systems that supported me so I could get my work done. That was all invisible, and in some ways it made me invisible, too.
I agree with Tempeh that we need to make ourselves visible. We need to speak up about the toxicity of a culture that prizes exhaustion and inefficiency and devalues self-care. And the voices speaking up have to be men as well as women. It's not just about part-time work - that's only one strategy. It's about self-preservation.