Was work/life balance question sexist?

August 7, 2014
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Indiana Justice Loretta Rush was asked during her interview about maintaining a work/life balance. But none of the men were asked about that issue at their subsequent interviews.

I want to give Goshen attorney John Ulmer, the commission member who asked the question, the benefit of the doubt. I want to believe he didn’t realize just asking Rush how she will balance her work obligations with her home obligations comes across as sexist. I want to believe he asked the question because she has a minor child still at home, and none of the other justices do.

But it is a sexist question, even with the best intentions.

And we’re not the only ones who noticed. Several attorneys on social media pointed out that Rush was the lone justice asked that question.

If you are a woman, having dependent children does not mean you are incapable of fully and properly completing your job. And not having dependent children doesn’t mean you still don’t have to balance your work life and your home life. You or your spouse could come down with a serious illness. You may have to take care of an aging parent. You may volunteer a lot of your free time helping out a charity.  

Rush told commission members the work/life balance issue is one that everyone faces.

“I just really became a really good time manager,” she said, explaining she uses every minute of her commute home to Lafayette, for instance. She said the balance is made easier because of her family.

When it comes to raising a child today in a household where both parents work or only one parent is present, you may have to rely on family, friends or outside help. That’s the reality of today – whether you are a mother or a father.

Rush has built a distinguished career while being a wife and mother, something that all women who work outside the home strive for. There are many women who have figured out how to juggle all the responsibilities life throws at us. Yes, there are sacrifices that working mothers have to make, and yes, there are choices that have to be made daily regarding whether to spend that extra hour working on an important business matter or making your child’s softball game. I know that working fathers also have to make sacrifices when it comes to their home lives.

I could go on and on about work/life balance, but instead, I’ll congratulate Chief Justice Loretta Rush on her new position. Hopefully, the next time the court has to choose a new chief justice, the issue of work/life balance won’t even be a question because the commission members know it is something that everyone – male or female – faces and finds a way to make work. If one has made it to the Indiana Supreme Court, then one must surely know how to find that balance.

  • OMG!
    Of course a man asked such a question. He is thinking--gee if she was my wife, I might have to cook dinner or go to a school meeting or do the laundry if I want clean underwear if she gets picked as Chief Justice. OMG!
  • Not all women
    Not all women who work outside the home strive to be mothers and/or wives (or even to have distinguished careers). If you're going to take Ulmer to task for his assumptions, take stock of your own, too.

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