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. He TIL team,please zap this comment too since it was merely marking a scammer and not reflecting on the story. Thanks, happy Monday, keep up the fine work.

  2. You just need my social security number sent to your Gmail account to process then loan, right? Beware scammers indeed.

  3. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

  4. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  5. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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