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.
 

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  • 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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  1. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  4. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  5. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

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