THE SECOND SHIFT
When I was thirty-one, a moment occurred that crystallized the concern that drives this book. At the time, I was an assistant professor in the sociology department at the University of California, Berkeley, and the mother of a three-month-old child. I wanted to nurse the baby—and to continue to teach. Several arrangements were possible, but my solution was a pre-industrial one—to reintegrate the family into the workplace, which involved taking the baby, David, with me for office hours on the fourth floor of Barrows Hall. From two to eight months, he was nearly the perfect guest. I made him a little box with blankets where he napped (which he did most of the time) and I brought along an infant seat from which he kept an eye on key chains, colored notebooks, earrings, and glasses. Sometimes waiting students took him out into the hall and passed him around. He became a conversation piece with shy students, and some returned to see him rather than me. I put up a fictitious name on the appointment list every four hours and fed him alone.
The baby’s presence was like a Rorschach test for people entering my office. Older men, undergraduate women, and a few younger men seemed to like him and the idea of his being there. In the next office there was a seventy-fourryear-old distinguished emeritus professor; it was our joke that he would stop by when he heard my son crying and say, shaking his head, “Beating the baby again, eh?” Textbook salesmen with briefcases and striped suits
were generally shocked at the unprofessional gurgles (and sometimes unprofessional odors) from the box. Many graduate student women were put off, partly because babies were out of fashion in the early 1970s, and partly because they were afraid that I was de – professionalizing myself, women in general, and symbolically, them. I was afraid of that too. Before having David, I saw students all the time, took every committee assignment, worked evenings and nights writing articles, and had in this way accumulated a certain amount of departmental tolerance. I was calling on that tolerance now, with the infant box, the gurgles, the disturbance to the dignity and sense of purpose of my department. My colleagues never seemed to talk about children. They talked to each other about research and about the departments ranking—still ‘number 1” or slipping to “number 2”? I was just coming up for tenure, and it wasn’t so easy to get. And I wanted at the same time to be as calm a mother for my son as my mother had been for me. In some literal way I had brought together family and work, but in a more basic way, doing so only made the contradictions between the demands of baby and career all the more clear.
One day, a male graduate student came early for his appointment. The baby had slept longer than usual and hadn’t been hungry at my appointed Barrows Hall time. I invited the student in. Since we had never met before, he introduced himself with extreme deference. He seemed acquainted with my work and intellectual tastes in the field, and as I am sometimes tempted to do, I responded to his deference by behaving more formally than usual. He began tentatively to elaborate his interests in sociology and to broach the subject of my serving on his Ph. D. orals committee. He had the task of explaining to me that he was a clever student, trustworthy and obedient, but that academic fields were not organized as he wanted to study them, and of asking me whether he could study the collected works of Karl Marx under the rubric of the sociology of work.
In the course of this lengthy explanation, the baby began to cry. I slipped him a pacifier, and continued to listen all the more
intently. The student went on. The baby spat out the pacifier and began to wail. Trying to be casual, I began to feed him. At this point, he let out the strongest, most rebellious wail I had ever heard from this small person.
The student uncrossed one leg, crossed the other and held a polite smile, coughing a bit as he waited for this little crisis to pass. I excused myself and got up to walk back and forth with the baby to calm him down. “I’ve never taken the baby here all day before,” I remember saying, “its just an experiment.”
“I have two children of my own,” he replied. “Only they are in Sweden. Were divorced and I miss them a lot.” We exchanged a human glance of mutual support, talked of our families more, and soon the baby calmed down.
A ‘month later, when the student signed up for a second appointment, he entered the office and sat down formally. “As we were discussing last time, Professor Hochschild. …” Nothing further was said about what had, for me, been ari utterly traumatic little episode. Astonishingly, nothing had changed: I was still Professor Hochschild. He was still John. Something about power lived on regardless.
In retrospect I felt a little like that сЬагааёг in Dr Doolittle and the Pirates, the pushmi-pullyu, a horse with two heads that see and say different things. The pushmi head felt relieved that motherhood had not reduced me as a professional. But the pullyu wondered why children in offices were not occasionally part of the “normal” scene. Where, after all, were the children of my male colleagues?
Part of me felt envious of the smooth choicelessness of those male colleagues who did not bring their children to Barrows Hall but who knew their children were in loving hands. I sometimes felt this keenly when I met one of these men jogging on the track (a popular academic sport because it takes little time) and then met his wife taking their child to the YMCA kinder-gym program. I felt it too when I saw wives drive up to the building in the evening, in their station wagons, elbow on the window, two children in the back, waiting for a man briskly walking down the steps, briefcase in hand. It seemed a particularly pleasant moment in their day. It reminded me of those summer Friday evenings, always a great treat, when my older brother and I would pack into the back of our old Hudson, and my mother, with a picnic basket, would drive up from Bethesda, Maryland, to Washington, D. C., at five o’clock to meet my father, walking briskly down the steps of the government office building where he worked, briefcase in hand. We picnicked at the Tidal Basin surrounding the Jefferson Memorial,, my parents sharing their day, and in that end-of-the – week mood, we came home. When I see similar scenes, something inside rips in half. For I am neither and both the brisk stepping carrier of a briefcase and the mother with the packed picnic supper. The university is still designed for such men and their homes for such women. Both the woman in the station wagon and I with the infant box are trying to ‘solve” the work-family problem. As things stand now, in either case women pay a cost. The housewife pays a cost by remaining outside the mainstream of social life. The career woman pays a cost by entering a clockwork of careers that permits little time or emotional energy to raise a family. Her career permits so little of these because it was originally designed to suit a traditional man whose wife raised his children. In this arrangement between career and family, the family was the welfare agency for the university and women were its social workers. Now women are working in such institutions without benefit of the social worker. As I repeatedly heard career women in this study say, “What I really need is a wife.” But maybe they don’t need “wives”; maybe they need careers basically redesigned to suit workers who also care for families. This redesign would be nothing short of a revolution, first in the home, and then at places of work—universities, corporations, banks, and factories.
In increasing numbers women have gone into the workforce, but few have gone very high up in it. This is not because women cool themselves out by some “auto-discrimination.” It is not because we lack “role models.” Nor is it simply because corporations and other institutions discriminate against women. Rather, the career system inhibits women, not so much by malevolent disobedience to good rules as by making up rules to suit the male half of the population in the first place. One reason that half the lawyers, doctors, business people are not women is because men do not share the raising of their children and the caring for their homes. Men think and feel within structures of work which presume they don’t do these things. Women who enter these traditional structures and do the work of the home, too, cant compete on male terms. They find that their late twenties and mid-thirties, the prime childbearing years, are also a peak period of career demands. Seeing that the game is devised for family-free people, some women lose heart.
Rigid, demanding career schedules are often the story for the middle classes. But working class men, too, live by work schedules that often make equivalent demands on them, with the same results in their private lives. In both cases, the long hours men devote to work and to recovering from work are often taken from the untold stories, unthrown balls, and uncuddled children left behind at home.
Thus to look at the system of work is to look at half the problem. The other half occurs at home. If there is to be no more mother with the picnic basket, who is to take her place? Will the new working woman cram it all in, baby and office? Will the office take precedence over the baby? Or will babies appear in the daily lives, if not the offices, of male colleagues too? What will men and women allow themselves to feel? How much ambition at work? How much empathy for children? How much dependence on a spouse?
Five years after David was born, we had our second child, Gabriel. My husband, Adam, didn’t take either of our boys to his office, but overall, we have cared for them equally, and he cares for them as a mother would. Among our close friends, fathers do the same. But ours are highly unusual circumstances—middle class jobs, flexible work schedules, a supportive community. These spe
cial circumstances make women like me and my friends “lucky.” Some women colleagues have asked me, lids lowered, “П1 bet you really struggled to get that.” But the truth is I didn’t. I was “lucky.”
Once the occupant of an infant box in my office, David is now seventeen, three inches taller than I, and close to being a college student like those who used to wave keys in front of him. Do working mothers have more help from working fathers than they did when David was a baby? Is the problem being resolved?
If I listen to what my students are telling me these days, and what some women colleagues are showing me, the answer is no. The women students I talk with don’t feel optimistic that they will find a man who plans to share the work at home, and the women whose husbands fully share still consider themselves “unusual,” while the women whose husbands don’t, consider themselves “normal.”
I began to think about this matter of feeling “lucky” again while driving home from my interviews *in the evening. One woman, a bank clerk and mother of two young children, who did nearly everything at home, ended her interview as many women did, talking about how lucky she felt. She woke at 5:00 a. m., crammed in housework before she set off for work, and after she got back, asked her husband for help here and there, getting very little. She didn’t seem lucky to me. Did she feel lucky because her husband was doing more than the “going rate” for men she knew? As I gradually discovered, husbands almost never talked of feeling “lucky” that their wives worked, or that they “did a lot” or “shared” the work of the home. They didn’t talk about luck at all, while this bank clerk and I seemed to be part of a long invisible parade of women, one feeling a little “luckier” than the other because their man did a bit more at home. But if women who have an equal deal feel “lucky” because it is so rare and precious and unusual and precarious an arrangement to have—if all of us who have some small shard of help are feeling “lucky”—maybe something is fundamentally wrong with the usual male outlook on the home, and with the cultural world of work that helps create and reinforce it.
But if sharing work at home, as I shall argue, is vitally linked to marital harmony, should something so important hinge on luck? Wouldn’t it be far better if ordinary men and women lived in “lucky” structures of work and believed in ideas about men and women that brought that “luck” about?
Nearly all my women students want to have full-time jobs and rear children. How will this work out? Sometimes I ask women students, “Do you ever talk with your boyfriends about sharing child care and housework?” Often they reply with a vague “Not really.” I don’t believe these lively, inquiring eighteen – to twenty – two-year-old students haven’t thought about the problem. I believe they are afraid of it. And since they think of it as a “private” problem, each also feels alone. At twenty-two, they feel they have time. But in a short ten years, many are likely to fall into a life like that of my harried bank clerk. I have explored th$ inner lives of two-job families in the faith that taking a very close look now can help these young women find solutions for the future that go far beyond an infant box and luck.
Arlie Russell Hochschild s landmark work on the new roles for working men and women, The Second Shift, was a groundbreaking book and has gone on to become a classic. She is also the author of The Managed Heart, The Time Bind, and the forthcoming Commercialization of Intimate Life: Notes from Home and Work, as well as the editor, with Barbara Ehrenreich, of Global Woman. She has written for Harpers, Mother Jones, Psychology Today, and The New York Times Book Review. A Swarthmore graduate and tenured Berkeley sociology professor, she is a past recipient of the Berkeley Distinguished Teaching Award and grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
Anne Machung currently works as a principal policy analyst for the University of California. She received a Ph. D. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has published articles on higher education and work and family in Change and Feminist Studies.
Other Books by Arlie Hochschild
Global Woman: Nannies, Maids, and Sex Workers in the
New Economy (со-edited with Barbara Ehrenreich)
The Commercialization of Intimate Life:
Notes from Home and Work
The Time Bind: When Work Becomes Home
and Home Becomes Work
The Managed Heart: The Commercialization of Human Feeling
Coleen the Question Girl (a childrens story)
The Unexpected Community