Sheera Frenkel posted a twitter thread about the troubles she, as a mother, had trying to get to fill an unexpected guest slot on MSNBC. It's frustrating and difficult, but she perseveres and manages to get on camera. This is her main complaint:
And I'm on! It's a story about Russia and the midterms, two subjects I know a lot about. I've written about them extensively, for the NYT and others. But because I'm a mom to a (young) kiddo, I often have to watch (male) colleagues go on to discuss my work.-- Sheera Frenkel (@sheeraf) August 21, 2018
And here is the segment. Also, for those DMing me, yes I have a (great) husband. But he's out of town and even if he wasn't, heads to work every day at 7AM. https://t.co/ccQc40WyGZ-- Sheera Frenkel (@sheeraf) August 21, 2018
She points out that if she hadn't been up at an unearthly hour with her baby, she wouldn't have gotten the messages anyway. Perhaps only men are allowed to leave their phones on overnight? Otherwise, having a small child benefits her in this situation.
Her husband is traveling, but when not, he's at work early. Do you know what this means? It means Frenkel and her husband made a choice.
They could have chosen for him to be a stay at home dad. Then, Frenkel, like her male co-workers, would be always available. They could have chosen for him to pursue a career that doesn't require travel or early hours. Then he'd be home when she needed to pop out for an early morning news thing.
When news broadcasters complain about how difficult it is to find women experts to appear on camera...just look at how hard it is from the other side. Thread >> https://t.co/he28cAQuT0-- Kirstine Stewart (@kirstinestewart) August 22, 2018
While there is sexism in the world, for sure, your family situation is your own choice. Granted, if Frenkel's husband had run off on her, leaving her with full custody of the kids, that would be beyond her choices, but the same is true of her male colleagues--their wives could run off and leave them with the kids.
Women tend to be the primary caregivers for children. A choice they make. I didn't make this choice, and I will do overseas TV or radio appearances at 3 a.m. and I work 7 days a week. I reap the benefits of that. https://t.co/32t2NVIciz-- Amy Alkon (@amyalkon) August 22, 2018
I do last minute radio from time to time because I'm a great person to call for morning drive shows. Because of the time difference between the US east coast and my home in Switzerland, if you contact me at 5:45 for a 6:00 am appearance, I'm already awake since that's noon for me. Does that give me an advantage over my US-based colleagues? You bet. But, I'm disadvantaged when it comes to television. Few US-based television shows have relationships with televisions studios in my area. Does that mean there is discrimination against HR experts who live in Europe? Nope. It just means that's life.
Having little kids is rough. Being the primary caregiver is rough. But we all make tradeoffs. Frenkel admits that the news shows are just trying to fill their slots. It's not about sexism, it's about timing and choice.
Make your choices, and then take responsibility for your choices. Don't blame society and don't take every story of a woman who struggles as a sign that the world is unfair. It's a sign that life is tough. For all of us.