Employment Gaps

I just read Penelope Trunk's Quit work for a while to have kids. Your career will be just fine.

I hope it's true. I don't understand how it can be true for highly technical people. I hope I'm wrong.

I took off 3 months when each of my children was born. I didn't want more time off–I wanted to go back to work. (Have you ever tried to attend to your biological needs when you have a colic-y baby? Impossible. Work was so much easier.)

But I've certainly worked with (mostly) women who felt trapped. If they took time off, they felt as if they could not re-enter the workforce.

I've been talking to some women who took 20 years off. They haven't kept up with the field. They are not employable as developers today. They certainly could be if they can learn a modern computer language, and learn how to write requirements without shall statements, and how to work in a collaborative team, and how to continuously integrate their code, and more things I take for granted these days, but are new ideas to them.

But, these are new ideas to new college grads too (except for the language), and the new grads don't have the same maturity as a woman in her 40's or 50's.

The whole point of feminism was to give everyone a choice (men, too). It's refreshing to read this, even if I don't believe it yet 🙂

4 Replies to “Employment Gaps”

  1. My take-away from this posting is that a significant gap in employment (in a technical field such as software development) is like starting from scratch–fresh out of school. The additional maturity should make it easier to identify and pick up the important parts.

    The previous experience might help, or it might hinder, depending on which parts of that experience the person held onto. For example, I’ve seen previous procedural experience hinder understanding object-oriented development. But I’ve seen previous experience thinking of the system as a whole be of great value when dealing with new, complex systems. I guess I could boil this down to, in general, understanding principles will help, depending on practices might get in the way.

  2. Pingback: Scientific Ink » links for 2008-01-31 - not particularly objective musings on odds and ends - Dunrie Greiling, Ann Arbor, MI 48103
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