Take the question of where to live seriously. Don’t let inertia push you toward a big-name city, the place you grew up, or your old college haunts. Make a conscious decision to live somewhere that will improve your quality of life by really understanding what your core needs and interests are–and will be.

City leaders understand they are competing to attract vibrant, creative populations and are branding themselves accordingly. Young people get this, and many treat cities as a consumer product to be test-driven, like a new car. A white paper written by Next Generation Consulting stated that because of an increasing shortage in skilled workers, Generation Y is saying, “I can find a job anywhere. It’s more important to me to find a place where I fit in.”

Rebecca Ryan, CEO of Next Generation Consulting, says: “Where you live is more important than where you work because a mortgage and your kids’ school are more long-term than the job you have.”

So how do you choose where to live if everywhere is a possibility?

1. Understand what really matters.
Richard Florida, professor at George Mason University and author of The Rise of the Creative Class, summarized conclusions from a recent summit of the mavens of the economic development and psychology-of-happiness communities: “Place is as important as having a job that challenges you, but not as important as relationships with family and friends.”

Jane Ciccone, designer of jewelry line Jane Elizabeth, got it. She says she and her husband, “fell in love with San Francisco, but our families were in Massachusetts. We could have stayed in San Francisco if we could have gotten some of my family to move there. But no one would move because of the cost of living.” Now they live in Newburyport, MA, and she is expecting to give birth any day.

2. Leave room for career flexibility.
You probably won’t have the same career your whole life. If you move to a city where the culture or demographics reflect your values (think recycling rates, number of churches) and meets the needs of your non-work interests (e.g. kayaking in the Pacific Northwest) then you are more likely to move among careers without having to relocate away from your interests or relationships.

Realize that a high-cost of living directly affects what flexibility you have in your career. You severely limit your ability to drop in and out of the workforce and careers if you are raising kids and paying a mortgage in an expensive place.

3. Live where your income is at least as high as the median.
If you’re surrounded by people who have more money than you, you won’t feel like you have enough. The relative amount of money is what matters, according to Daniel Khaneman, who won a Nobel Prize for applying psychology to economics.

3. Consider that more choice is not intrinsically more desirable.
Do you really need to be able to choose from 20 takeout restaurants every night? Probably not. The same is true for private schools, and pet-friendly parks. More choices make us nervous about deciding and more likely to regret what we’ve ultimately settled on, according to Barry Schwartz, author of the Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less. You don’t want life dictated to you, but you also don’t want to spend your whole life deliberating what-if scenarios.

4. Don’t relocate away from a spouse or significant other.
The single biggest factor in our happiness, according to many studies is not money, it’s our sex life. Daniel Blanchflower, professor of economics at Dartmouth College, has quantified it for us: “Going from sex once a month to sex once a week creates a big jump in happiness.” Caveat for the adventurous: Sex needs to be with a single, consistent partner to confer bigtime benefits.

5. Keep your commute short.
There’s a huge psychic cost to joining the suburban crawl. “You think you are moving out to the suburbs because it’s better for your kids, but in some cities, you’re never going to see your kids because you’re always in your car,” says Wendy Waters, founder of the blog All About Cities.

6. Seek diverse populations for a richer life.
Bigger cities are often among the most homogenous. Ethnic diversity and racial differences now are not as pronounced as economic and educational differences. Diverse ideas are often based in diverse experience; however housing costs are pushing out nearly everyone but the rich from the most popular cities.

Richard Florida says, “San Francisco is becoming an entirely homogenous place. This is true of entire regions and migration trends will make this worse. The creative revolution is creating a concentration of wealth worse than in the Industrial Revolution.”

7. Make a decision to improve the world.
“The key to solving this problem,” says Florida, “is not to beat up Boston and San Francisco, but to make second-tier cities attractive.”

In a large part, this is a government problem. Pay attention to cities such as Columbus, Ohio, where mayor Michael Coleman has a vision for the city that intensely embraces diversity. Or Madison, Wisconsin, where there’s a capable network of investors working with the government to promote local technology innovations.

You can find meaning in community by helping to promote diversity and creativity in a city such as these. You can help build new models for cities that make room for communities of people with diverse ideas and diverse income levels. The decision is a little like driving a hybrid car: We can’t fix everything in the world. But we can live our life in sync with our values and with intention to make a difference.

Why I’m not deleting this post…
There were not laws to protect women in 2006. It was a scary, lonely time for women. We didn’t always have language to describe what was happening to us at work.
When you reported sexual harassment in 2006 you got fired. And there were no repercussions for the harasser because no one cared. In 2019, we are making progress in supporting victims, but we still have a long way to go. And we can’t know how far we’ve come unless we save evidence of what life was like before.

—Penelope, Aug. 2, 2019


Sexual harassment in American work life is pervasive — as much as 80 percent in some sectors. But most women don’t stand a chance of winning a lawsuit. So having a plan to deal with the problem is a good idea for all women.

When it comes to harassment, Georgia Gatsiou, chef at Beard Papa, says: “I would talk to him myself. I am aggressive like that.” You should probably take that approach as well. Most sexual harassment isn’t severe enough to hold up in court, and the law isn’t strong enough to protect you from most types of retaliation. So unless your safety is at risk, you’re usually best off handling the harasser yourself rather than reporting him to human resources.

To win a lawsuit, courts require proof that harassment was severe and pervasive in the work environment, according to Alisa Epstein of New York-based law firm Samuelson, Hause & Samuelson. And that employee handbook becomes important too. Gatsiou is typical of employee handbook readers: “It’s big. I’ve read a lot of things in that handbook. Maybe there’s something about harassment. I don’t know.” But when you report to human resources, you must follow your company’s policy precisely or you risk losing your ability to take the company to court.

After you’ve filed a report, human resources will protect the company, not you. Human resource executives talk about their concern for harassment. But, according to Jim Weliky of Boston-based law firm Messing, Rudavsky & Weliky, “most human resource departments don’t live up to their propaganda.”

The law is set up to encourage a company to take proscribed steps to protect itself from liability rather than to protect your emotional stability, or, for that matter, your career. Once you take action against a harasser, retaliation is your biggest problem.

“Very few retaliation cases we have were not triggered by reporting the problem to human resources,” says Weliky. “But not all retaliation is strong enough to make it to court.” Retaliation is usually subtle: fewer invitations to lunch, a cubicle that isolates you from office networks, and project assignments that are boring. That sort of retaliation effectively holds back your career without standing up in court.

Just because you don’t have a lawsuit doesn’t mean you need to put up with harassment or retaliation. It means you need to take things into your own hands. Your goal should be to stop the harassment without hurting your career. No small feat, but possible.

“This is a negotiable moment,” says Carol Frohlinger, attorney and author of Her Place at the Table: A Woman’s Guide to Negotiating Five Key Challenges to Leadership Success. “Before going to human resources, have a frank conversation with the person making you uncomfortable.

“Be clear on what behavior is harassing and that you don’t like it. As long as he doesn’t repeatedly refuse to negotiate like saying, ‘You’re so premenstrual’ and walking away,’ ” Frohlinger said, “you should negotiate things for yourself.”

As in any important negotiating session Frohlinger advises that you assess your “best alternative to a negotiated agreement,” or BATNA. Your BATNA is probably to leave the company. But you should let your opponent feel that your BATNA is to go to human resources. Because no matter how arrogant he is, he will not be happy about being dragged into a ‘he said-she said’ mess before the human resources department.

When you negotiate, aim high: If your harasser is your boss, ask for help to switch departments, and ask to go to a better department with a top manager. It’s in your harasser’s interest to help you. Or, if a co-worker is harassing you, make sure the co-worker appreciates that you handled things yourself. You save the co-worker a lot of problems by not reporting him.These are ways to decrease the chances of retribution while squelching the harassing behavior.

If the harasser will not negotiate with you, assess your power versus his. “Sexual harassment is more about the balance of power than what has been said,” advises Weliky.

When Kate, a high-powered New York City lawyer, was young and working with a managing director, she recalled an incident in which he asked her to “bring the papers by my hotel room, and don’t worry if I’m only wearing a towel.”

She thought the comment was ludicrous and told the whole office. “I could do that because I was on my way up in that firm, and he was doing poorly,” she said. “He didn’t have a lot of ways to make my life difficult. In fact, someone told his wife and she bawled him out in front of his co-workers.”

A great situation, but most of you cannot depend on your harasser’s wife for vigilante law enforcement. If the balance of power is not in your favor, and you get nowhere negotiating, find a new job and leave the offending company–in that order–because it’s always easier to find a job when you have a job, even if you hate the job you have.

There is plenty to do in this world that does not require you to work in companies that enable a boys’ club atmosphere. There are a lot of men who feel alienated in this atmosphere too.

Find those men and work with them. Then get a lot of power in your career and create a workplace culture you believe in.

Just because you’re adamant about making sure you have a personal life doesn't mean you can't be top in your field. Top is different today than it was even ten years ago. Top doesn't mean climbing a ladder to make the most money. Top means having influence in discussions that matter to you, and having interesting problems to solve.

How do you get that? One way is by making a move when you can't get any further on the path you're going. A good example of this is Billy Cunningham, medical professor at UCLA. He made a name for himself by documenting that upper-middle-class people of color in the United States were 37 percent more likely to have poor health than upper-middle-class whites, and by making revolutionary recommendations in front of Congress like dispensing medical information in church. His recommendations worked. But then he was faced with the question of what to do next.

“I thought about what is coming down the pipe where we might see the same disparities and can anticipate it and prevent those gaps from occurring. I also thought about what I could be the first to study. I started focusing on adherence to AIDS cocktails and then I realized I was late to the game because several others had started working on it before I did and they had laboratory expertise that I didn’t which would make it hard for me to compete.”

The topic he settled on was the AIDS vaccine. He was in a position to study ways to distribute it and to put himself in a position to be a key member of the community that launches the vaccine (when it is discovered) in South Africa, where the infection rate is as high as 50% in some populations.

Cunningham knows he wants to bring better medical treatement to minorities, but he knows the best way to make a difference is being the top in his field. He consciously plots to find a space that is open for him to rise to the top. You should be doing this too, in your career. This is how you have the most influence to ask important questions, seek meaningful answers, and make a difference in peoples’ lives.

Another good example of making a move is Alex Ohanian and Steve Huffman, who just sold their company, Reddit, to Conde Nast. When I interviewed them last February, they had received a buyout offer from Google, but they turned it down. At that point, Reddit was on an exciting and seemingly limitless path. Today, though, Reddit’s path as a stand alone company might be a dead end because Digg, their competitor, is now an industry standard, and Reddit is second fiddle. Taking the buyout offer now, from a premier publishing company with enthusiasm for building out Reddit, makes good sense for Ohanian and Huffman. After all, Ohanian told me, “We do this because it is fun and interesting.”

My Chinese radar really perked up last week when I read the Economist article about Alibaba. This Chinese company is the largest online business-to-business marketplace in the world, and it just purchased Yahoo! China, which makes Alibaba the12th most popular site in the world.

I checked out the site right away, and, guess what? It looks just like eBay, except that the testimonial on the home page is from someone who lives in Vietnam. Moments like this make me think career advice really needs to address the China issue: How will you survive in China? But the answer is, of course, that you probably won’t. Which is why I don’t write a lot of advice about it.

Some people will do well in China, though. So let’s take a look.

There is a brisk business in Chinese nannies for American babies. New York Magazine reports that, “The lycee is passe (old Europe has no trade surplus), and some parents are scouring Craigslist and placing ads in the China Press for sitters who speak Mandarin, China’s official language.”

One of those parents says, “Even if my little girl weren’t very smart, she’s always going to get a job because she’ll be totally fluent in Chinese.”

This is not true. It takes a lot more than speaking Chinese to succeed in China.

China is among the easiest countries to attract outsiders to work but is also one of the hardest places for them to succeed, according to David Everhart, regional practice leader for Asia at the recruiting firm Korn/Ferry International.

Everhart gave me this list of five traits of people who succeed on a Chinese mission:

1. You are generally a very patient person, with a high tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity.

2. You already have a certain knowledge of Chinese culture — not only societal, but also the business culture.

3. You have evaluated your company’s China strategy and are empowered to manage expectations at the home office about what it will take to meet your goals.

4. You have researched and secured extra support so your family will be able to adapt socially in China.

5. You arrive in China and immediately begin thinking about succession planning: how to develop the leaders of the future who will allow the firm to localize its management team.

Most of us will never work in China, but there’s a lesson in this list. You need social skills and a big-picture strategy for any job you take. In China, because of a cultural gap, you need them even more. But don’t kid yourself: If you can’t tolerate a certain amount of uncertainty and ambiguity, you will flounder in a leadership position anywhere, not just in China.

Finally, check out Melanie Parsons Gao’s blog. She is a Sun employee who blogs about making the transition to China. She posted a list of what to bring that is interesting even if you never go.

Wendy Waters suggested that I write about how to deal with disabilities in the workplace. So here’s a story about my friend Ann, who has a really deep voice. It isn’t a sexy deep voice; it sounds more like Oscar the Grouch with a sore throat or Darth Vader on Prozac.

Her voice, which is a result of a birth complication, is a disability that she must deal with daily and for the most part, has overcome. While I know this now, and it’s the basis for this story, I didn't always see things that way.

I knew Ann in grade school where I confess to having had evil thoughts:

1. Why is she first chair in saxophone and I am last chair in oboe? She has the right mouth for wind instruments, and I don't. It's not fair.
2. Why is she class president and I am not even getting invited to boy-girl parties? How can someone with such an awful voice be so much more popular than I am?

But Ann and I ended up on the high-school track team together, and we became close friends. I spent so much time with her that I stopped noticing that her voice was different than other people’s. It seemed normal to me.

But there were constant reminders: restaurant customers stared when they heard us talking. Often sales people did not hear what she wanted because they were so stunned by the sound of her voice. Ann never lost patience, never seemed uncomfortable. I never knew how she did it.

In the track world you meet tons of kids from schools all over the state, and when Ann walked by, I heard lots of them say: “What's wrong with her voice?”

When I asked Ann if she felt weird about how she sounded, she'd say no. “A deep voice sounds authoritative,” she’d tell me.

Ann flourished in college. She learned to be extra nice to people because they usually would be extra nice back. She became very loyal to friends who stuck by her because so many others shied away after hearing her speak. Naturally, she knew she was different, but good grades could help her overcome prejudices and she excelled in school.

After college she went to a top advertising firm. I assume that her voice was not a problem during job interviews, or at least that interviewers believed Ann could overcome her voice impediment enough to impress potential clients.

But then she was assigned to a manager who hated her. He berated her intelligence, made sexually offensive comments around her, and generally let her know he did not want her around. In truth, his actions amounted to harassment. But her harasser had leverage, so Ann had to leave the company.

Once you leave a high-profile company without recommendations, you can pretty much forget going to another company in the same industry. So Ann returned to where she flourished — school. She took programming classes, and a classmate liked her so much that he got her a job. His software firm needed someone who knew advertising and someone who knew programming, and the company liked the idea of Ann wearing two hats.

The company went under in the tech meltdown of 2002, but Ann found that by switching gears, she had developed a new specialty, which is in a very narrow niche that she now dominates (and doesn’t want me to identify because she wasn’t thrilled that I was writing about any of this). But the bottom line is that things are good for Ann now. She weathered many storms and is successful despite her disability. Here are her tips for others who are struggling with some kind of impediment. But the tips are applicable to all of us:

1. Don't blame other people for your failures. Take responsibility for your life and move past people who don't help you.
2. Have patience with yourself if you don't choose the right career on the first try. Trust that you will find a place that’s right for you, and keep looking.
3. Convince yourself you are great. Then convincing other people is much easier.

Donald Trump fired Carolyn Kepcher, which is obviously big news if you watch The Apprentice, and still big news, though in a less obvious way, if you don’t.

Kepcher started her career as a waitress and she worked her way up in his organization. Recently she has become a counterpart to Trump (and generally more respected than he is) as the sidekick on his TV show the Apprentice. More importantly, she is a widely listened to speaker and author about how women can maneuver in the workplace.

But Carolyn will be fine. She’s talented and smart and she’s probably fielding great offers as I type.

The important thing here is nepotism. Donald fired Carolyn because he realized that he gave her a spotlight to run with (which she did, good for her), but he would rather be giving it to his kids – Ivanka and Don Jr. No big surprise. Most people with power want to give it to their kids. And most powerful people are white males, so white males are busy distributing power in an unequal way. Sure, Ivanka Trump benefits too, but only because she’s the daughter of a rich white man.

What about the people who are not children of rich white men? They do not receive as many opportunities to become powerful. Just look at the admissions process for top universities. If you are an alumni (and a majority of Ivy League alumni with college-age kids right now are rich, white men) you have a much higher chance of being accepted to a top university.

Everyone who complains that affirmative action is unfair should take a look at how Trump is running his organization. Because it’s not unique. And he is using a tried-and-true version of affirmative action for his family.

Affirmative action for minorities in the workplace is not a way to give minorities an advantage. It’s a way to counterbalance the combination of a concentration of wealth among white men and a strong history of nepotism in American institutions.

I’m happy that Donald fired Carolyn. It’ll give everyone a great example to point to when we talk about unfair advantages in the workplace.

In response to my post about how to choose where to live, Ayann wrote a comment saying that race is a factor as well. She’s right. And the truth is that my husband and I talked about race constantly during our decision making process because he is Latino and, therefore, so are my kids.

My husband has spent his life living in Los Angeles and New York City. I had to push very hard for him to move to Madison, Wisc., where the Latino population is less than 5%. My husband’s hesitancy to move to an all-white neighborhood is understandable. His family is almost all first-generation immigrants, and the discrimination I have seen them face is incredible. I would have never believed how ubiquitous it was until I had seen it myself.

I have written about how research shows that my children will face discrimination in the workplace because of their Latino last name. But I want to believe that they’ll be fine in Madison — that somehow goodness will prevail and people will not discriminate.

City ranker Richard Florida has a race index, sort of. He counts the gay population as a guideline for tolerance for new ideas and diversity of ideas. Madison did not score incredibly well on this index. Madison is no San Francisco, to be sure. But it’s not Confederate flag-flying either. Madison, like most of us, is somewhere in between.

One of the quirks of my marriage is that my husband routinely points out to me how I say racist things. I don’t even notice it until he shows me. But I am pretty sure that most people are saying racist things, even if they don’t mean to. I must be uncomfortable talking about this because I wrote a whole piece on my decision making process and didn’t mention race once.

One of the best things we can do to squash racism is to believe in ourselves and in our neighbors that we can beat it. I’m doing that as I move to Madison. Another thing that helps fight racism is talking about it. That’s something we can do right here.

Here’s a new word for the workplace: Rankism. File it in your brain next to racism and sexism. And brace yourself for a big change at the office, because rankism is another kind of discrimination we should not tolerate.

What’s rankism, or rankist behavior? It is hiring an intern and ignoring her all summer. Or pointlessly yelling at the receptionist about a manager who is late. Or a professor taking credit for a graduate student’s research. All these are examples of people who think they can treat someone disrespectfully because of their lower rank. The Devil Wears Prada has tons of juicy examples — as well as snappy fashion and a happy ending to make the story acceptable.

But rankist behavior is never acceptable. And Robert Fuller, the man who came up with the word rankism, is on a mission to end it. His big idea is that people have a right to be treated with dignity no matter where they are in the pecking order. He’s part of what’s become known as the “dignitarian movement.” (He’s written two books on this topic: Somebodies and Nobodies and All Rise.)

Wondering if you’re at a job where you’re treated with dignity? You need to receive recognition, humane treatment and a living wage.

If your job doesn’t qualify, you need to speak up, which is hard to do, but having a word to identify the problem is half the battle. “Vocabulary changes thing,” says Fuller. “The Feminine Mystique referred to the ‘problem without a name.’ Sexism was not a word until five years after that book came out. Once the word sexism was available women had a weapon to make demands.”

Fuller wants you to take cues from the success of that movement. Say, “Hey, that’s rankest,” the same way you’d say, “That’s sexist.” But don’t yell: “Having the words rankist and rankism will give workers in every line of action a battle cry. They won’t scream at the top of their lungs. They will mention it calmly and cause the person on top to look at their actions.”

Here are five more steps you can take to combat rankism in your own work life:

1. Get a good read on potential managers.
Management sets the tone of respect or disrespect at work. So sniff out offenders before taking the job. Vanessa Carney works at Let’s Dish, a food preparation company. “The management team here is genuine,” says Carney, “The people who run this company have a good attitude and it trickles down.”

Carney was especially impressed when the owner of the business sat down with her after a few months to find out what, exactly, she wanted to do in her career.

2. Let people know that rankism matters.
Probably those behaving this way are not even conscious that they’re doing it. In one study about harassment, most people who were disrespectful were not aware of it–they thought they were making jokes at the time.

“They are misguided comedians,” says study author Catherine Hill, director of research at American Association of University Women. She also found that people respond to what they perceive as cultural norms. So speak up when you see it, even if you are not on either side of the exchange.

3. Don’t accept rationales for rankism.
Common refrains are “This is the only way the business can work,” (to justify long and unpredictable hours), or “I got through this so you can too,” (to justify hazing-like practices).

Joanna Vaillant is a management consultant — a position known for difficult work conditions. But she did research to find a consulting company that respects its employees: Boston Consulting Group. She recommends talking to people who work in the company about the company. “In business school I talked to classmates who worked at different companies,” says Vaillant. And she chose well. She recently got married and received assignments that would allow her time and headspace to prepare for that big day.

4. Take a bad job.
Working at a low-level job is not just a headache, it’s an integral part of your personal development. A big barrier to fighting racism and sexism is that if you are white you don’t know what it’s like to be black, and if you are male you don’t know what it’s like to be female.

But everyone can work in a low-level job — especially in the service industry where the exposure to rankest behavior from customers is huge.

5. Consider leaving.
One of the scariest things about demanding change at the workplace is the prospect of getting fired. But young people today — those invariably filling up the entry-level positions — switch jobs often. So the risk of offending your current boss for speaking out against rankism does not seem that big a deal.

The workplace is ripe for eradicating rankism. The youngest workers are optimists about their ability to change the world and passionate about valuing diversity. Also, in poll after poll, young people report less interest in money and more interest in the quality of work and the quality of life work affords. So it makes sense that now is the time for the dignitarian movement, and we should all jump on board.

I interview two or three people a week for the various columns that I write. One thing I have learned from this is that people can tell you the major ideas they have in about twenty minutes. After twenty minutes you end up getting into the details of the ideas — probably more than you need to know.

So it was not surprising to me that the TED conference limits speakers to about that amount of time. What was surprising to me was how much I enjoyed watching the videos of lectures from the conference.

Before I go on, though, let me just say that TED is totally elitist, and the selection of speakers is absurdly imbalanced among men and women. But when it comes to your career, you should take advantage of all opportunities to converse with very smart, interesting people. I have noticed that I learn an incredible amount from interviewing interesting people — more than when I just read an article about them. Getting a chance to see the lectures at TED, (for free!) is not a conversation, but it’s better than reading about it.

So, each night or so I am watching one video. I don’t have the attention span to just watch, so maybe it’s good that I didn’t go to the conference. I answered email during Tony Robbins, but still, you can’t say he’s not inspiring. I was riveted during the Majora Carter video. She’s a great speaker (I shed a tear) and she talks about the politics of green space in urban areas. I didn’t know anything about this topic and I can honestly say she showed me a different way to look at things.

I found out about the TED videos from Guy Kawasaki’s blog. I check his blog out a lot because he writes about big ideas. There is so much to read online, but it’s easy to surf and surf and never get to a big idea. Force yourself to find them — that’s how you’ll grow.

The Wall Street Journal gives terrible advice this week on “going from maternity leave to permanent resignation.”

Columnist Sue Shellenbarger writes, “Once a mother is absolutely sure she isn’t going to return to work after maternity leave, I believe she’s obligated to reveal her intentions to her employer.”

WHY? There is no description in the column about the genesis of this obligation. Is it a moral obligation to protect corporate America from having to support families?

Listen to me: Take that leave, and don’t feel guilty. The United States is the only country in the developed world that does not provide national, paid maternity leave. So the few women in the US who can actually take maternity leave have EARNED it. The law gives these women the RIGHT to take that maternity leave regardless of what happens afterwards.

Shellenbarger also warns that you will “burn your bridges” by taking maternity leave and then quitting. She writes this as if it’s a national trend to rehire women after they take extended leave for children. In fact, it’s just the opposite: Most companies do not take you back after leave. And companies that do are notable exceptions. (Anyway, I would not even want to go back to a boss if he were the bitter-about-maternity-leave type, so why bother appeasing him?)

Here’s the advice the Wall Street Journal should have given: Don’t tell anyone at work that you’re not coming back after the baby. Collect all your maternity leave money and do not feel guilty. Call at the end of leave and say you’re not coming back. Tell your boss you’re sorry to put him in a difficult position, but everything feels different once the baby is there. That is true. It is not lying.

Please, do not feel guilty. That women take maternity leave and then quit is a result of the system being totally flawed. It is absurd to presume that women know if they want to continue working before they know what it’s like to be home all day with a baby. And it is unreasonable that the workplace cannot provide a decent number of baby-friendly jobs so that women who want to continue working can without compromising their own health (exhaustion) or their baby’s (too much separation).

In fact, quitting right after maternity leave is not so uncommon, says Laura Shelton, who has done extensive research about Gen X women at the office. She suggests that advice like the Wall Street Journal’s is a result of a generation gap — boomers like Shellenbarger just don’t get it: Boomers fought to get women into he workplace but boomers ignored maternity benefits.

Maybe your boss will take some advice from Shellenbarger’s source, Don Sutaria, who gives companies some good advice: Hire a temporary worker who could stay on as permanent if the maternity leave turns into full leave.

And while you’re pregnant, train the temp well. This will make you feel better if you decide not to return to work, and it’ll even make you feel better if you do return because someone will have kept your work in order.