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Do we need a mom on the Supreme Court?

Do we need a mom on the Supreme Court? Peter Beinart at The Daily Beast says yes, citing the need for positive role models for women who would like to combine motherhood and career.

Beinart surveys recent government appointments, noting that less than half of President Clinton’s female cabinet picks had children, and that President Obama’s record is only slightly better. In a society where eighty percent of women over the age of forty have children, Beinart, the husband of a working mother and father of a toddler girl, says this track record needs to improve and improve fast. He argues that Obama should pick someone like Diane Wood, a judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, for the job. Not only does Wood come with a feminist track record, she’s the mother of three children and three stepchildren.

“It’s important not just to have lots of women in positions of political power, but to have lots of women with kids. It’s important because otherwise, the message you’re sending young women is that they can achieve professionally, or they can have a family, but they can’t do both,” Beinart writes.

I have to confess, I only have one disagreement with Beinart. The message is being sent to all women, not just young women.

It goes without saying that women with children have a hard time in American work-life. We earn less than both our male peers and our childless female counterparts. We get to sit and seethe as our male peers are congratulated for skipping a business meeting to watch a child in a school play, knowing that we are less likely to be taken seriously as workers if we do the same. Yet if we skip the play and send dad to watch it … well, we don’t need to go there but just take my word as the mom of a ten and seven year old, it will be noted, and not necessarily in a complementary way.

And things are getting harder. Even as those of us with jobs find the stress ratcheting up as we are under pressure to accomplish more and more, parents (and you can read the word “moms” here) are spending ever increasing amounts of time with their children, something a recent study attributed to the never-ending college admissions arms race.

Sonia Sotomayor remains awe-inspiring, but she is divorced, childless and has said she believes her workaholic tendencies have come with a huge cost for her personal life, a fate, needless to say, similarly oriented males tend to avoid. All of the men currently serving on the Supreme Court have children, some still elementary school aged.

Which brings me to my final point. Yes, a woman with children on the Supreme Court would be a great role model for us all. A woman with young children would be an even better role model. Is there anyone out there? Any suggestions, dear readers? Anyone at all?

Photo Susan Y

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