Michelle Obama’s recent advice for job-seeking women was considered “disgracefully out of touch,” and it was delivered in a rather “condescending” manner, suggests Liz Peek from Fox News. It was Michelle’s advice to women regarding their career strategies that was given a less-than-stellar critique by Peek in a recent Fox News article.
Michelle told the audience at a conference for women held in Pennsylvania recently that women need to speak up for themselves in the workplace.
The former first lady said, “If you are scared to use your voice, then you’ve got to get up and give it to someone who isn’t afraid to use the spot.”
Peek writes sarcastically how this is “such good advice” coming from someone whose “idea of hardship is graduating from Princeton University and Harvard Law School.” Not to mention Michelle is a woman “whose husband has always been there to provide for her.”
Peek’s gripe concerns Michelle Obama’s lack of experience in the real work world because the advice she is pushing might not be the best advice for the average woman. Peek conveys her concerns that if women do happen to follow this advice, it could get them fired.
She describes Michelle’s life as what many might may consider a “dream life.” She is married to a man who is a “supernova” in politics and she’s spent eight years in the White House. From there, she’s settled in on a life that surrounds her with luxury. Comments on the social media sites are mixed; some are lambasting the article’s point of view, while others, like the post below, agree with what Peek is saying.
Then there are those who disagree with Peek’s thoughts on Michelle Obama’s advice, like the post seen below.
Michelle Obama has passed along this stand-up-for-yourself mantra before. She once told an audience at the White House Working Families Summit about a job interview she had. Long before she was the first lady of this nation, she showed up to interview for the position with a “newborn baby in tow.” It was her behavior during this interview that she held up as an example for women everywhere. Michelle conveys how she told her prospective employer that she would need flexible hours so she could “care for her growing family.”
She then explained what she actually said to that employer.
According to the Fox News article, Michelle Obama told her prospective employer, “If you want me to do the job, you’ve got to pay me to do the job and you’ve got to give me flexibility.”
Peek asks what the average person might expect from having that type of attitude when on a job interview. Obama was interviewing for a position at the University of Chicago Medical Center at the time. While the year isn’t mentioned, Michelle describing how she had a newborn with her indicates it was over a decade ago.
Peek describes how this sounded to her and quite possibly to the average person.
Peek writes, “Doesn’t that sound like a terrific negotiating premise? I can’t do the job unless you bend the rules for me, possibly alienating my co-workers? Come on. Most women (or men) insisting on such special treatment would be shown the door.”
After Michelle told her story, she shared with the audience how this wasn’t the first time she “demanded flexibility.” Peek points out that Michelle’s advice of being so assertive with a prospective employer or even a present employer just “doesn’t ring true” for the average person. While Michelle Obama might secure a job that way, that’s probably not the best strategy for the average, everyday citizen of the nation to use in an interview, as Peek said, they “would be shown the door.”
According to Philly.com, Michelle Obama also told a story about telling her boss at the law firm where she worked that she doesn’t want to be “summoned to useless meetings.” She encourages other women to speak up too.
Michelle Obama explained her mindset when asking her boss for flex time at the law firm.
“I’m working my butt off, and I needed and asked for flexibility with my time — without a pay cut. I realize the vast majority of people don’t have the option of flex time, but if you do, and you’re in the C-suite, then you have to make those arguments or give up your seat to someone who will.”
From her experience, Peek sees women who are starting their families as being more anxious to prove that they are committed to their jobs than most people. The reason for this is that employers have their own concerns about the “competing demands on their time.”
Peek conveys that because of this reason, it has become popular for many folks to delay starting families until they are far enough along in their workplace where they can feel comfortable when making a request, rather than a demand, for the flexibility — that same flexibility Michelle Obama wanted to be awarded from the get-go of her prospective new position when applying for that job at the medical center years ago.
Michelle made that demand during a time when Barack Obama was a state senator in Illinois and getting prepared for a U.S. Senate run. With Barack well-known as a community leader and Michelle with her work at a top law-firm under her belt, she was being “recruited” for that job, which usually means they reached out to her to offer her the position.
“She was being recruited to build the medical group’s community relations with Chicago’s South Side, where her husband had paved the way for her,” the Fox News article reports.
This is very different than the scenario the average person embarks on every day, such as walking into an interview as one of many qualified candidates applying for a position.
As Peek suggests, “Her advice could get a lot of women fired.”
[Featured Image by Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Images]