Did your read this opinion article?
Let's set aside the tone of the article, except to say that the author's complete lack of objectivity and scientific integrity make me agree with Sheldon (Big Bang Theory) that the social sciences are bunk. It's also dreck as journalism. There's nothing scientific or objective about it.
Let's also agree that all women are not and need not be the same. We make different choices. The world will neither end nor be the worse for it.
There are two points raised that I find particularly interesting. One is that women with extremely high levels of income, education, intelligence, and capability opt to stay home to raise their children and manage their households. The other is that the women of that social group live essentially segregated lives.
The article does nothing to help me understand whether these points are meant to be linked. Is there causation? Are they corollaries? Are they completely unrelated, and just happen to both pop up in this group of women? Does it matter? I don't know (though I have my suspicions). So, I set that aside too, and will treat them separately.
I haven't seen the stats, and I'd be interested to know how the sahm (stay-at-home mom) choice breaks across social strata, and how women of different social strata view that choice. Some may view it as a pipe dream, others as a better option than paying for childcare that would cost more than the mom could make (that would be me, when I made that choice), others may view it as a lazy option (OH BOY are they wrong). I suspect there are a million ways to think about it, and that economics are often, but not always, a major driver of the decision, whether for or against, and whether acknowledged or not.
Regardless, for these rich women it is an option. They could hire a full time nanny and housekeeper and hold down a job themselves (a glamorous and well-paid one, of course)--and other women of that social group do. It happens. I've worked with some of them. The author's implication seems to be that these smart and capable women are wasting their time being overinvolved in their children's lives. That's a judgment call, but the fact (as in, lots of evidence has established this point) is that a child's environment, especially during the earliest years, is key to developing intelligence, life-long health, mental stability, language and analytical skills, and so on. The brain needs good food at early ages to develop properly. Children exposed to more words have larger vocabularies at younger ages. Et cetera, et cetera, and so forth.
That was one reason I chose to stay home. And it worked. Yes, we were tremendously lucky in having healthy kids who seem to have lucked out in the gene lottery, but I'm going to go ahead and take some credit for their being early readers with broad vocabularies who are engaged in their environment, engaging to be with, and generally pretty solid citizens. Their sanity they get from their dad, of course.
We were dirt poor (though well-educated) rather than rich, but I can understand extremely wealthy couples deciding that the best choices for their children would be for their smart mother to be their primary caregiver, for the kids to be involved in lots of enriching activities from the earliest possible age, and for the kids to go to the best possible schools. Not everyone makes those choices, and I have no idea what I would have done if I'd had unlimited resources, although I've always said TFL would have been the better stay-at-home parent. My only point here is that they're choices I can understand. (Not the part about being perfectly dressed and coifed when dropping a kid off at school, though, as meeting the minimum standard of dressed and coifed is often a challenge for me.)
More intriguing, and perhaps troubling, to me is the segregation.
Parents of young children are often forced apart by competing time requirements. The dads are often on the younger side, developing their career and working ludicrous hours. The sahm are busy trotting the kids around, keeping the house together, doing their million and five tasks every day. That was my experience, and that seems to be what the author implies in the article. Even so, dads can carve out time to eat dinner with their kids and take their wives out on dates and generally be around from time to time.
So segregation is not a requirement of the lifestyle, if we're calling being an affluent family with a sahm a lifestyle.
But it does seem to happen. What drives it, and is it healthy for anyone? When I see segregation start to happen I become extremely wary. Call me jaded, call me a cynic, call me a realist, but segregation often indicates a problem. Sure, we love to go off and do things with just us girls, but not always, and certainly not *exclusively*. The more separation there is between men and women, the easier it is for each group to be dismissive of the other, to forget what their contributions are to a mutual life and relationship, because the mutuality of the life, and the relationship itself, becomes increasingly attenuated.
And once a spouse's attitude becomes dismissive, it's a short step to a breakdown of the family. Divorce, affairs, messiness, it all ends in tears. Which, if there were no children involved, would be unfortunate, but when there are children involved can become catastrophic at worst, supremely painful at best. Who here hasn't seen this pattern somewhere amongst their friends, family, or acquaintances?
A dismissive attitude can also breed contempt, and that is REALLY bad for all women, everywhere. You think a guy's attitude toward his wife never bleeds over toward his female coworkers, consciously or subconsciously? I'd bet you my life savings you would be wrong. (That's $1.57, if you're interested.)
If I'm an investment banker trying to gain clout, or a businesswoman trying to climb into management, or a lawyer trying to make partner, that's the attitude that's going to be the death of my dreams. The managing partner or CEO who loves his wife, or has daughters he wants to see succeed, he's much more likely to have a positive attitude about my capabilities and potential. The one who treats his wife like an object and doesn't know his kids' names? He's not going to be helpful, and he may actively sabotage me.
I'm exaggerating for illustrative effect, but my point is that segregation does not bode well. Segregation by choice can lead to enforced segregation. Segregation in one segment of society can seep into others. And if nothing else, constant segregation can breed, eventually, contempt.
The article is such a mess, unfortunately, that I don't think it can advance any analysis of these questions. And how much of what she discusses is restricted to, or caused by, the world of the ultra-rich? Who knows?
In other news: I'm alive. Family's alive. New job is busy as bad people continue to do bad things at big companies. Yay, job security.