It’s 2020, and the majority of caregiving duties continue to land on women’s shoulders. This is being magnified during the pandemic, and we may be going backwards when it comes to gender equality. Out of the 1.1 million people who left the workforce in September, roughly 865,000 were women. Latinas and Black women are leaving at higher rates than white women.
How can we help ensure a generation of women don’t make a mass exodus from the workforce? In this episode of Breaking the Bias, Holly Corbett, the Director of Content for Consciously Unbiased, (virtually) sits down with Eve Rodsky, Harvard-trained lawyer, founder of the Philanthropy Advisory Group, and author of Fair Play: A Game-Changing Solution for When You Have To Much To Do (And More Life to Live).
Eve is working to change society one marriage at a time by coming up with a new 21st-century solution to an age-old problem: women bearing the brunt of child rearing and domestic life responsibilities, regardless of whether they work outside the home. They discuss what inspired Eve to do this work, why the home is ground zero for creating the culture shift needed to advance gender equality, how to frame tough conversations with your partner, and much more. Listen to the full conversation here, and read below for some key takeaways.
*This conversation has been condensed for length and clarity.
HOLLY: You were raised by a single mom in New York city. How did that inspire you to write “Fairplay?”
EVE: “My mother is my biggest inspiration because she always said to me, ‘Physical possessions are worthless, but when in need, do a deed.’ She was a big fan of Gandhi’s quote, ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’ So growing up, even though she was a single mother and she was struggling—my father left her when she was pregnant with my brother and I was three—her ethos was, I’m not going to buy you a birthday gift, but if there is a civic march or engagement you want to do in Washington, D.C., I will buy us a Greyhound bus ticket. We would go with paper-bag lunches and no cell phones and board a Greyhound bus, and we’d March in D.C. So her ethos was always to do service. She’s a professor of community organizing.”
HOLLY: What other lessons did you learn from your upbringing?
EVE: “The thing that really inspired me was the fact that I was a parental child. That’s what the psychologist would call me. I was [my mom’s] partner when my father wasn’t there, and I watched firsthand what it looked like for one person to try and do it all, without family close, and try to raise two kids. That meant you have to have support.
So starting at seven or eight, I became her partner. I would tell her when eviction notices would come under the door. I’d wake up late. She worked late. I put my disabled brother to bed. I had to have an intervention with her when I was 11 or 12 telling her my brother couldn’t read. And that our public school system in New York City was just passing him to the next grade because they wanted him to be pushed out, basically. The ethos is watching one person do it all and realizing that you can’t do it. All these things fall through the cracks. You struggle, you have mental health issues. It’s very, very difficult.”
HOLLY: How did that impact your own family later on?
EVE: “I vowed at an early age that I would have an equal partner in life. And I married that equal partner. We were killing it in life and business; we would each take turns taking out the trash, making dinner or ordering in. We were supporting each other’s careers, and then everything changed once we had children. But I will say that up until then watching one person try to do it all is completely unsustainable. My brother and I paid the price for not having any social safety nets or community around us as we were being raised.”
HOLLY: So what needs to happen to give women more support when it comes to caregiving duties?
EVE: “We see that an hour of work for a non-Latino white man is paid double of what a Latinx woman would be paid. We know that. So that’s inherently a time issue, where we’re valuing someone’s time more than the other. But I think the most insidious place I saw it was in the home. So why did I decide to write to women, because, as I said, my mother was a professor of social change who doesn’t believe in possessions? My amazing mother said to me many times, ‘Why is Fair Play written to women? Why is it not written to men?’ I had to really think about that. What I realized is that we’ve been conditioned since birth to be complicit in our own oppression…we’re conditioned to devalue our own time. None of this is working. And that’s why Fair Play ultimately became a love letter to men as well, because nobody wants to live like this.”
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