No ‘cookie-cutter’ solutions: Family expert Charmaine Yoest says creativity, flexibility are keys to resolving work/family issues
Charmaine Yoest acknowledges that creative solutions to juggling work and family are never easy. “That’s part of why I study it as an issue.”
By Elizabeth Kiem [from May 14, 2004]
Charmaine Yoest, a doctoral candidate in U.Va.’s Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics, is an up-and-coming young expert on family policy issues.
Photo by Andrew Shurtleff By normal counts, her 10 years at the University have been hyper-productive: Her papers on the subject are prolific, as are her media appearances, congressional testimonies and academic presentations. She has written a book on working mothers and is completing a second on parental leave policies.
But Yoest’s career must be viewed in the context of a not-so-typical doctoral student’s family life — she is the 39-year-old mother of five children, ranging from age 10 to infancy.
“I hope it’s inspirational to some,” she said of her ability to pursue her studies and career even with a full capacity mini-van. “Obviously I couldn’t do what I’ve done unless my husband was willing to live a nontraditional life as well.”
Yoest acknowledges that her domestic situation, with close family near by to step into the child-care breach and a husband willing to reduce his workload significantly to help raise children, has been unusually conducive to her career. Nonetheless, she would like to see more families adopt a “nontraditional lifestyle” to accommodate childrearing and professional equality among the parents.
There is such an emphasis on work and family that sometimes the family gets lost because people are so focused on ‘how can we facilitate work? she said.
A regular on the political talk-shows, Yoest is careful with her words, aware of just how politicized the debate has become. She is quick to emphasize that her pro-family stance in no way negates her advocacy for women to pursue careers and advanced education, as she has done. The mission, she says, is to find creative ways to do both — and women require the participation of spouses and employers to do so.
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Thank you (foot)notes:
Originially published by UVA Insider May 2004.