Do mothers have an unfair advantage in the workplace? Meghann Foye, an American magazine editor turned novelist, certainly seems to think so.
Jealous of co-workers clocking off on maternity leave, and saying she’s tired of picking up the slack from female colleagues with a bulletproof excuse for avoiding overtime – namely, the need to get back to their children – 38-year-old Foye is calling for childless women to receive “meternity” leave.
In an interview with The New York Post, she demanded to know who decided that you had to be pregnant to take a year off work, and lamented that having children appeared to be “the only path that provided a modicum of flexibility” in an age in which workers are expected to be slavishly on call.
“I was 31 years old in 2009, and I loved my career,” said Foye. “As an editor at a popular magazine, I got to work on big stories, attend cool events and meet famous celebs all the time. And yet, after 10 years of working in a job where I was always on deadline, I couldn’t help but feel envious when parents on staff left the office at 6 p.m. to tend to their children, while it was assumed co-workers without kids would stay behind to pick up the slack.”
****Plug alert!!! Have you ever dreamed of quitting your job for a little time off? Meternity… https://t.co/eFsJwbpuKM
— Meghann Foye (@megfoye) April 26, 2016
According to Foye, “meternity” leave is “a sabbatical-like break that allows women and, to a lesser degree, men to shift their focus to the part of their lives that doesn’t revolve around their jobs.”
“For women who follow a ‘traditional’ path, this pause often naturally comes in your late 20s or early 30s, when a wedding, pregnancy and babies means that your personal life takes center stage,” she said. “But for those who end up on the ‘other’ path, that socially mandated time and space for self-reflection may never come.”
Thus, meternity leave should be earned after “a decade or so” in the workforce to avoid “Burnout syndrome,” Foye said. And, “it should be about digging into your whole life and emerging from it more confident in who you are.”
Foye, who feels it’s unfair for employees to ditch the office early, saying ‘I need to go pick up my child,’ eventually took a meternity leave of her own, quitting her job and leaving the corporate world for a year and a half.
During that time, she wrote “Meternity,” a novel about a woman who fakes being pregnant to enjoy the benefits of the paid time off.
— Marlon Correa (@MarlonEcorrea) April 28, 2016
— Natalie (@NatalieMullisMT) May 1, 2016
@megfoye I think I understand where you are coming from, but I guarantee if you do have kids, your opinion will change. Dramatically.
— Laura Wallbridge (@laurawallbridge) April 30, 2016
Foye said maternity leave and her own meternity leave develop confidence, allow for a shift in focus from an overwhelming amount of professional obligations and give “a whole new lens through which to see (life,) but many critics disagree with her idea and argue that maternity leave is a well-intentioned, well-deserved break for new mothers who go through the process of having a raising a child.
Unsurprisingly, Foye’s comments have prompted a wave of criticism on social media.
Some of the more printable messages include “only an attention-seeking imbecile could come up with [me-ternity leave]” and “try to take care of an infant for 24hrs and tell me if her idea of “meternity” is worth it.”