Women in Business: Your E-mails on He Said, She Said

I asked and you answered. Below is what some of you have to say about last week's column on who should decide a "woman's place."

Dear Megan,

I think you missed the point Mr. Know-It-All was making.

Back when it was a majority of men in the workplace, the pay rates were much higher, high enough that only one family member had to work to get the family ahead. That is not true in today's world. In a great many cases, both spouses have to work to make ends meet.

As you very rightly point out, women are every bit as capable as men in getting the work done, so much so that the workforce is twice what it would be if only one spouse were to work. Simple economics shows that with double the workforce you have much lower pay rates. Employers have a greater choice and can offer much less money to get the work done.

I don't know if Mr. Know-It-All was angry or just very studied and scientific in his thinking. The economics are very simple: Have one-third the workforce go away, and the pay rates will go up, the family income will go up and our children will have a parent looking after them and instilling the family values that day care does not.


The arguments are: a) Women should decide what they want to do with THEIR life and b) A strong and growing economy (rather than a slowing and shrinking one) is good for the country. If those don't work for you, then let me try using sports logic to see if I can show you the light.

Imagine the football commissioner announced that no new teams would ever be allowed to join the NFL and all teams that have been added to the original few clubs would now be forced to leave.

Sure, this would mean the players on the original teams wouldn’t have to work as hard. But it wouldn’t guarantee that their salaries would go up. I doubt we’d see players of the same caliber as we do today because it wouldn't be as hard to be the best. Boring. So the “take one-third of the workforce out and it fixes everything” argument just doesn’t cut it.

Dear Megan,

I only have one question after reading your column: Can Mr. Know-It-All walk without dragging his knuckles on the ground?

-Woody G.

Dear Megan,

I think Mr. Know-It-All should put his foot back in his mouth and keep it there. If only we could stop him from typing e-mails. His kind of thinking is what creates class structures and discrimination. Welcome to today; leave yesterday's problems behind.

He claims inflation is caused by women workers? He obviously doesn't understand economics very well.

-Michael W.

Dear Megan,

Here’s another reason Mr. Know-It-All is full of it. His parents and mine made do with only one job because they also made do with only one car, one TV, a stereo system from Sears if they had more than a radio.

In short, the reason more women ‘have’ to work and families need two incomes isn’t because of inflation in price, it’s inflation of expectations and acquisitiveness as well as the satisfaction of their dream. I wonder how this guy would deal with things if he was the one expected to stay home.

I’m a retired male who worked for good bosses and bad for over 40 years and never found their abilities to be dependent on their gender in any way. The percentages of good and bad were about the same, regardless. This guy’s a jerk.

-Bill B.

Dear Megan,
He's kidding right????

First of all, what he is assuming, and I admit I am reading between the lines here, is that the "women" are married. I am a single woman, nearly 42 years of age, maintaining my OWN household with a job I have held for just a hair over 21 years and have advanced from the lower levels to a now supervisory position.

At times I have had to take a second job in order to pay suddenly increased rents and any other emergency type, unplanned for problems, but otherwise, I pay my mortgage, my horse's boarding fees and other routine bills, plus go to school, live well and have a healthy savings and IRA account.

Now, don't get me wrong. I do agree to a certain extent. If the family can make a good life on a single income, with either the wife OR the husband staying at home to help with children, hey, more power to them. What I don't agree with is that it is the woman who has to stay home.

Dear Megan,
Thank you very much for making a persuasive argument counter to an obviously close-minded perspective offered by Mr.. Know-It-All.

I do not believe that any success in your personal life will ever make up for failure at home. I also believe that the stay-at-home mom is the most difficult and important job that there is. I recently married and my wife and I share the same mind when we say that she should stay home to watch our children until they are at least school age.

That isn't to say that women who choose not to do that are bad mothers. If they can have the role of mother and professional successfully, then I think that they should be able to do it free of the criticism offered by Mr. Know-It-All.

Dear Megan,
I can hardly believe you received that piece of trash letter in the year 2007. What does Mr.. Know-It-All say regarding the single childless women? Or, the married childless women? Does he really have the gall to think that women are *only* supposed to be baby factories?

Our concept of the stay-at-home mom (circa 1954) is actually a new phenomenon. Women typically have had to work and raise children throughout history.

Farm women worked hard on their farms and taught their children to help out. City women helped run family businesses, taught children and others, did washing, cooking or cleaning for pay, etc.

The idea of a mother staying at home and "only" raising her children is not a realistic concept for most of history. Most women have had to balance both family and work in some fashion.

-Hilarie R.
Denver, Colorado

Dear Megan,
I COULDN'T AGREE MORE WITH "MR.. KNOW-IT-ALL". He said what I have been thinking for years. He hit the nail on the head. He couldn't be more right. I would like Mr. Know-It-All to know that there are MILLIONS of us that agree with him.

-Gary R. M.

Dear Megan,
For Mr. Know-It-All;
I have been a successful businesswoman all of my adult life and have found that it is men like you who make it difficult for competent women in business. Most likely your type of mentality is due to your own incompetence and you feel highly threatened by a woman who is better at the job than you are.

Because women frequently do have to work harder and be that much better than a man to keep their jobs, you know in your heart of hearts that they are better than you at their work.

Ms. Know-It-All

Dear Megan,
Isn't it funny that Mr. Know-It-All thinks less consumer buying power would HELP the economy? What an idiot!

You don't rob half the population of their paychecks and expect things to get better. And "Women aren't into business. Their brains don't work that way." WHAT?! You've got to be kidding me! If they aren't "into" business, how in the world do they survive as mothers?!

Moms multitask out the ying-yang. They have to be good people managers because they are in leadership roles with their children, supportive roles with their spouses, co-"worker" roles with other moms at PTAs and playgroups and "customer" roles with teachers and principals. If you ask me, those are probably far more roles than Mr. Know-It-All has!!

I'll tell you what I know, Mr. Know-It-All. You're a bitter, short-sighted egoist whose miserly outlook probably keeps you from seeing the good in anybody, men included. I'm sort of stunned that you work in human resources ... or would that be "man" resources if you were in charge?

-Bonnie B.

Dear Megan,
Your responses in your piece about this letter were decent, but I am very disappointed in your failure to ask the most obvious question: Why does no one ask if MEN can "have it all?" Why can't MEN help cook and clean and raise children? Why does that have to be "YOUR job" exclusively?

The problems faced by women in the workplace are at least half the fault of the low expectations society places on men.

Men AND women should be parents. Men AND women should maintain households. Men AND women should foster relationships.

THAT is a large part of why women have problems in the workplace... because no one expects men to do anything at home.
-Fay S.
Atlanta, GA

Dear Megan,
You have written an article that "hits the nail on the head!" My father and grandfather both discouraged me from furthering my education. They thought I should be "barefoot and pregnant."

Fortunately, I did pursue my education and career path because after my first marriage ended (his idea - I was crushed!) I had to support myself many years before marrying again and having my only child at age 36. Throughout those single years I was a great financial and moral support for many of my nieces and nephews.

Dear Megan,
The women who choose to work outside the home impose a sacrifice on their families in exchange for their own self-gratification and professional advancement. The women who choose to stay at home accept the sacrifice of their own professional advancement, and find gratification in the advancement of their family.

Notwithstanding the situations of families without children, or families that would be destitute without two incomes, the vast majority of families fall within those two observations. Feminism and popular culture have marginalized and denigrated the traditional role of the stay-at-home mother for decades, and as the husband of a woman who sacrificed an established career in medicine for the largely thankless task of raising five children, I find such attitudes infuriating.

If a woman chooses a career over her family, that is her choice, but it must be one or the other, unless she can be in two places at once and has enough emotional energy for both (neither of which are possible).
-Denwood R.

Dear Megan,
When I read the e-mail that you shared from Mr. Know-it-all, I admit, I expected your response to be the usual knee-jerk, quick to condemn, categorical counter attack that this subject matter tends to ignite. Especially since his points were pretty simplistic and written in obvious frustration. Instead, you wrote a calm, well-balanced piece that did justice to the entire scope of this often polarizing discussion.

I am a stay-at-home mom, daughter of a divorced working mother of four. My sister left the workforce to start her own business out of her home -- with her husband -- so that they could have more control over the raising of their two boys.

It is not a black and white issue.

Personally, I believe if it is in any way possible, there should be a parent willing to "stay at home" with the children. The next best thing is for parents to make structural changes to their lives to accommodate parenting, which I believe needs to be elevated in our culture.

I do agree with the e-mail that economic pressures force more women into the workplace. I contend it is a confiscatory tax system that is the primary culprit. I would like to see a time where working at home or out in the workplace is a pure choice, not a necessity, for two-parent families with young children.

-Nancy F.

Dear Megan,

After 26 years of working for various firms on the New York Stock Exchange trading floor, I've had just about everything said to me. And worse, nothing at all. When I first started in 1980, there were still a lot of old-timers there. They would not even acknowledge your presence. You were either invisible to them, or they would make known their disgust by a glare or something similar.

Having said that, I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. It was a great experience and opportunity. But make no mistake, I had to work very hard to be taken seriously and earn their respect. Unfortunately for me (and many of my co-workers and friends), we have become recent casualties of downsizings due to the computerization of the trading floor and the increase in electronic trading.

I enjoyed Mr. Know-It-All's letter. I'd really like to know how he arrived at the conclusion that women are responsible for "price inflation" and his plan for families magically being able to afford living off of one income once again. Sounds to me like a woman may have gotten a promotion he wanted and he's never been able to let it go. Too bad.

-Lori T.

Dear Megan,
As a female PhD student in Computer Science and Mathematics, I'm sure Mr. Know-It-All would consider me nothing other than an "exception" to the rule that Women's "brains don't work that way." However, I've got some interesting news for Mr. Know-It-All: Does he know that well over half of all university students are female? Only 42 percent of the nation's collage students are male. (NYTimes "The New Gender Divide" by Tamar Lewin, published: July 9, 2006)

I wish EVERYBODY (male and female) success and the fulfillment of their own dreams. Dreams and hard work are what have made America great!


Dear Megan,
Had I not read this letter, I admit I probably wouldn't know about this column, but after reading it I just had to respond. I'm a disabled veteran and, after several years of being the sole income for my family, my disabilities have finally rendered me unable to work.

While we wait for the VA to take its sweet time to process my claim, the cost of providing for my family of three has fallen solely on my wife's shoulders, while I stay home with our child. A complete role reversal.

Granted, we do agree that children these days do need more involvement in their lives from their parents, but who says it must be the wife?

Prior to now, my wife has never had a job. Not because she was unable but because we felt being with our kid was more important. Now, she's taken on a minimum-wage job (where both her supervisor and manager are women) and works very hard every hour they'll let her.

I believe that having female management has helped with the amount of hours she gets as women seem to be more likely to be understanding and sympathetic to the needs of their workers. She's taken on a stressful burden to switch from being a homemaker to the sole provider of three and has done so with pride.

Her earnings are about one-tenth of what I once brought home but she doesn't let that discourage her. She's showed up early for every shift and promptly headed out the door when called in on her days off. Times aren't easygoing from my former $8,000/month income to her $800/month but she handles it well and I couldn't be more proud of her!

Now I'm the one watching "Elmo's World" every day of the week and she's the reason we have a roof over our head.

Proud Husband/Father (Disgruntled Veteran)

Dear Megan,
I think Mr. Know-It-All was spot-on. Way to go for telling like it is, Mr. Know-It-All. More women should take note.

-Signed, Mr. Know-It-All's friend

Dear Megan,
I believe that his opinion seems to disregard the man’s place in a home. I’ve noticed that some children that do not have a strong relationship with their father or a male figure in their lives have more difficulty relating to the world.

How many movies are about people whose dads' paid all the bills and bought them nice things but didn’t ever go to their soccer games or spend time with them?

The father’s role in a child’s life is sacred and the role of the father or husband of the household shouldn’t be limited to paying the bills. In his letter, Mr. Know-It-All really degraded the roles of both women and men.

Thank you for pointing out how he is flat-out wrong about so many.

-Joanna K.

Dear Megan,

He's watching re-runs of the "Stepford Wives" too much.


"Minding Her Business" is a column that covers issues affecting women in business and in the workplace. Female professionals (and male, too, if they wish) can use this resource to network, ask questions, receive and offer advice, share personal experiences … and you don’t ever have to leave your office. Just e-mail herbusiness@foxnews.com. E-mails are subject to editing for length and content.