Fair Play Fair Game with Eve Rodsky

As part of the Ladies Get Paid Book Tour, sponsored by Comcast NBC/Universal, Claire Wasserman, founder and author of Ladies Get Paid, sat down with Eve Rodsky, Author of Fair Play, to discuss what it means to play fair, the steps to incorporate it into personal and professional relationships and how organizations are using Fair Play in the workplace. 


Claire Wasserman: Eve, you collected data about what people need help with and you saw that women were shouldering a lot more of the household responsibilities than men. 

Eve Rodsky: We treat men’s time like it’s finite and we guard it as a society like diamonds in the sand. That is the core finding of my research. It may sound like nothing to do with who does the dishes, but it was everything. We know women’s time is not valued in the workplace. 

What I was not prepared for [in my research] was how women were devaluing their own time when I asked them the question, “Why are you the ones making the smoothies? Why are you the one picking up the pediatrician’s call or the school nurse’s call when your child’s sick?” I want to break that down into three frameworks that we have to get rid of. Number one was, “I do all the extra invisible labor because my husband makes more money than me, or my partner makes more money than me.” We’ll talk about how this applied to non-hetero, cis gender couples, but right now I’m centering the problem which is these horrific gender norms.

The other problem was, “My job is more flexible.” Well, often we actually get into flexibility because we are doing the invisible work. It’s the opposite and actually men make more money than women.Would that mean I’m relegated to doing all the invisible work for my home for the rest of my life, because I make less money? It’s a losing argument for women, so we need to burn it. Time is not money. Another argument was, “I’m wired differently. My partner is better at focusing on one task at a time, I’m a better multitasker.” We wear multitasking as a badge.

I went to one of the top neuroscientists in America who said to me, “Are women better multitaskers?” He laughed, and said, “No. There’s no gender difference in the brain for multitasking. More importantly, are you really going to debunk this Eve?” I said, “Yes, I’m trying to debunk this, that’s what my book’s about.” He’s like, “Imagine, Eve, that we men have convinced you women that you’re better at wiping asses and doing dishes. That’s great for my tenure. I don’t know if I want my wife knowing she’s not a better ass wiper or a dishes doer.”

I cried that day. I took pride, just like I did for my mother, in doing all this extra work and perfectly. The perfectly wrapped gifts, the perfectly washed bottles, the secret Santa, whatever it was. That was a day that was really hard for me. I had to journal about it and sit with that unraveling of the conditioning. helast [piece of data], which was most popular was, “In the time it takes me to tell him/her, what to do, I actually could just do it myself.”

[But] that devalues all your future time, as all the behavioral economists will tell you.The present value of your time is very important andou don’t want to also discount your future time. When you say you’re going to do it yourself, when you wipe those asses and do those dishes over and over again, you do not have a partner in that. It’s at the expense of your finite time.

Claire: This is a question from a reader, “I’m reading Fair Play right now and I love the book. I can’t wait to play the game with my husband, but I’m having a hard time explaining to him why we need to rebalance the deck because he is the main breadwinner in our family, and because I’m earning much less than him. I’m wondering how I can get him to the table?” I know you addressed that a little bit more about the fallacy mindset of, “He’s carrying the weight in terms of money, so I need to carry the weight in terms of more of my time.”

Eve: Of course you need buy-in, and of course the people who are more aggrieved need to get that buy-in. What I’m here to say to you, as somebody who specializes in communication for a living, and I talk to people like conversation designers all the time, is that the thing that we’re missing the most in these conversations about the home is buy-in.

The reason why is because money has substituted for communication. Gender roles have substituted for communication. Because society expects me to be a caregiver and do more, that expectation is going to let me do more. What I’m here to say is that money is a terrible substitute for conversations. Gender roles, societal expectations, are a terrible substitute for communication.

Instead, we have to build a communication practice. We have tens of thousands who have signed up [for Fair Play] and are part of the movement and not one of those people when I asked, “What is your most important practice?” said communication. I know it’s a trick question, but I thought maybe somebody would stump me. 

Claire:  Someone asked,”How do you “play fair” in the workplace when you are a woman, junior, and shy?” How can she make sure to stand up for herself?

Eve: There’s nothing that you have to do to fix yourself, but there are things that you can do to take agency for yourself. I’d say the number one thing in that situation is to recognize that as a society, given the fact that our time is infinite, the things that actually bring value and justice, and psychological safety in the workplace like being part of an employee resource group, having networking events. Those are unpaid.

I think what it comes down to is we’ve taught girls to code  but we’ve never taught boys to care. Over half of the hetero cis gender identified men in my big survey said they would not give their son a doll. We are still very far from that type of understanding that caregiving should be normalized. Parenting out loud is important, and actually, men want to do it. That is why I feel optimistic.How we integrate life is going to be the big question of the 21st century. I do believe we’re finally on the cusp of making the invisible visible, and now making it valuable.

Watch the entire conversation with Eve Rodsky here.

 A big thank you to Comcast/NBCUniversal for sponsoring this series.


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