I was interested in this part: "We need to focus less of our energies on our own kids' SAT scores and more on fighting for better public schools; less time on competitive cupcake-baking and more on supporting those few brave women willing to run for office. We need fewer individual good works and more collective efforts."
1. Competitive cupcake-baking, handcrafted Halloween costumes, and the rest are perennial events in the motherhood sweepstakes, and women used to seem demon-possessed to persecute one another over them. Does this still happen? Is it worse now than ever before? The Atlantic deploys Caitlin Flanagan to tell me it is, but is it really?
2. Time and attention are resources, and resources are scarce. You can say "spend less time focusing on your own kids and more on the collective good of the whole," but is that going to happen? What's more likely is that people would try to do both. Maybe it was easier to take collective action instead of worrying about your kids' futures in the days of "feminist foremothers," since the unemployment rate in 1968 was 3.6%--basically, full employment. Maybe that's just an excuse, though.
It seems to be the same issue all over again: we would all like the benefits of the long-term collective action and thoughtful reflection that these changes promise, but the short-term hits to family, jobs, and precious spare time that they require will, we fear, leave us individually worse off than before, and in the competitive world for jobs and educational slots, will leave us permanently behind. Like the Red Queen, we believe we need to do all the running we can just to stay in place and not lose ground.
Now about the quitting academe issue. Madwoman with a Laptop says that that post generated lots of traffic and a lot of great comments, and Historiann's post did the same. I've read a fair number of eloquent posts on this issue, but is there evidence that junior academics are leaving en masse? I know that talented people who don't have tenure-track jobs are leaving, and the loss is the academy's; do the same numbers hold true for those on the tenure track?