double-standard

Buzz: Working women's woes: looks, child-care costs

May 18, 2012 at 11:31 AM ET

We’re going to go out on a limb and guess that when Henry Kissinger served as secretary of state, press reports about his key trips to foreign countries did not usually dwell on how he looked.

No such luck for Hillary Clinton. On a recent trip to Bangladesh, the current secretary of state got more attention for her decision to forego makeup than for any of her international diplomacy accomplishments.

Virtually all of the more than 7,000 people who took our poll this week agreed that women are judged on their looks at work.

True to form, many people who commented on the post chose to dwell on – you guessed it, Clinton’s looks. Some also argued that women are to blame for being judged for their looks.

“Women use their looks and flirt to try to succeed, but when looks fade, or when they have a fashion misstep...suddenly they cry foul and wonder why looks matter,” one reader wrote.

Whether it’s right or not, most readers acknowledged that both men and women are evaluating their female co-workers, and perhaps even their male co-workers, based on how they look.

“It's human nature, folks prefer to look at pretty whether it’s male or female. I've been working for a living since I was 17 and pretty works; unfortunately,” one reader wrote.

In addition to the pressure to look good at work, many working women face a huge financial barrier to rising the career ladder: Paying for child care.

Another post this week looked at how high child care costs are derailing some women’s career plans, amid government cuts in programs that subsidize child care.

Many readers had no sympathy for moms in this position, arguing that they shouldn’t have children if they couldn’t pay for child care or saying that they should find a way to stay home with their kids rather than paying for child care.

But other lamented the considerable cost, literally and figuratively, of pricey child care.

“When my daughter was born 21 years ago it was a struggle to find affordable daycare. My sister-in-law and her husband, both have Phd.'s in molecular biology and do research at a university on possible cures for diseases. They could not afford daycare for 3 children on university salaries so my sister-in-law stayed home to care the children. A talented scientist had to make a choice and we lost a potential cure that could benefit everyone. Women are in the work force to stay. Most families need the 2 incomes live. Why can we not find away to provide safe, affordable, and academically accredited daycare in this country,” one reader wrote.

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