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Gwyneth, Boomer and Alabama: A Work-Family Naughty List for 2014

Posted by Patrick Ball on 23 Dec 2014

What do an actress, a quarterback-turned-analyst and a large swath of Middle America have in common?

The common denominator is that these celebrities and states have said or done something (or done nothing, as it were) to land on our “Incomplete” Work-Family Naughty List for 2014.The National Partnership for Women and Families graded states on family-friendly laws

This is, as the name suggests, an incomplete list, culled from the headlines and annals of Internet outrage. It’s made up of instances over the past year – a year that was, by and large, a positive and progressive one on the work-family front – when celebrities, CEOs and even entire states bucked that trend and appeared out-of-touch the realities of what it's like to be a working parent and, especially, a working mother.

Let’s do this chronologically. Go ahead and use the comment section below to add to our list of work-family fails from 2014.

March: Gwyneth Paltrow, in an interview with E!, explains how being a A-List actress is soooo much harder than a working mom with an office job. She said: 


I think it's different when you have an office job, because it's routine and, you know, you can do all the stuff in the morning and then you come home in the evening. When you're shooting a movie, they're like, 'We need you to go to Wisconsin for two weeks,' and then you work 14 hours a day and that part of it is very difficult. I think to have a regular job and be a mom is not as, of course there are challenges, but it's not like being on set.


April: Former NFL Quarterback Boomer Esiason, on his WFAN sports radio show, criticizes Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy for taking paternity leave and missing two games at the start of the MLB season to be with his wife and newborn son. He said: 


Quite frankly, I woulda said C-section before the season starts. I need to be at opening day. I’m sorry. This is what makes our money. This is how we’re gonna live our life. This is gonna give my child every opportunity to be a success in life. I’ll be able to afford any college I wanna send my kid to because I’m a baseball player.


Read more about Why New Dads Don't Take Paternity Leave

June: Matt Lauer, interviewing GM CEO Mary Barra, asks if she can be a good mom and do a good job running General Motors. He said: 


You’re a mom, I mentioned, two kids. You said in an interview not long ago that your kids told you they’re going to hold you accountable for one job and that is being a mom. … Given the pressures of this job at General Motors, can you do both well?

Note: Lauer’s producer Tammy Fine later took responsibility for wanting Lauer to ask “that” question.  


June: America earns mediocre marks for supporting working families from the National Partnership for Women and Families in the third edition of its “Expecting Better” report. More details: 


But especially Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. These 17 states received failing grades in the organization’s state-by-state analysis of laws helping new parents. The low marks were based on the reported lack of improvements to federal laws supporting working families.


June/July: PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi tells The Atlantic’s David Bradley women still can’t have it all during the Aspen Ideas Festival. She said: 


I don't think women can have it all. I just don't think so. We pretend we have it all. We pretend we can have it all. My husband and I have been married for 34 years. And we have two daughters. And every day you have to make a decision about whether you are going to be a wife or a mother, in fact many times during the day you have to make those decisions. And you have to co-opt a lot of people to help you. We co-opted our families to help us. We plan our lives meticulously so we can be decent parents. But if you ask our daughters, I'm not sure they will say that I've been a good mom. I'm not sure. And I try all kinds of coping mechanisms. 


July: Kim Kardashian, speaking with CNBC, weighs in on what it’s like to balance motherhood and a career. Or something like that. She said: 


I mean, I think that's just not really like a positive outlook and for me, like my mom kind of taught us girls that we could have it all. You know, she works hard. She taught us that if you work hard, it's just all about prioritizing and I think that, yeah, it could get tough and after you have a baby, there are so many times when I just didn't want to get up and work on something and I just wanted to be home with my baby, but, you know, for me, and I think I can speak for my sisters, it makes us feel good when we are out working and we can provide something for our friends and products that, you know, we can't find that we really want.


October: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, in an interview with Harvey Mudd College President Maria Klawe during the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference, explains why women shouldn’t ask for raises. He said: 


It’s not really about asking for a raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will give you the right raise. That might be one of the initial 'super powers,' that quite frankly, women (who) don’t ask for a raise have. It’s good karma. It will come back. 


Do you agree with this list of #fails? What would you add or delete?


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