Good points, although I think the 1950s were actually better in that the expectation was 9-5 as opposed to 9-6 (or longer) back then:
The issue, as Slaughter notes, is that this flexibility is still something almost exclusively for parents. Everyone else might as well be working in the 1950s. This is the dangerous part of the story.
Because the moment that we start talking about designing the workplace around mothers (or parents in general), we create a ghetto that’s nearly impossible to escape. The reality is that every employee would probably love to design their work to fit into their life, regardless of whether they have kids. But the hordes of Gen Y workers are confined by expectation and tradition to the office all day, every day, for the first decade of their working life. The message that’s sent to them is deviating from the old norms is something you only do when you’re desperate. Or when you have kids. Or, most commonly, both.
But what if we could convince those wet-behind-the-ears junior staff that flexibility is something that should be baked into modern life, regardless of spouses or kids? To borrow one of Slaughter’s hypotheticals, what if we built a workplace that was marathoner-friendly? Or more volunteer-friendly (my local food bank can only accommodate helpers during working hours)? Or more art-friendly or music-friendly or blog-friendly or whatever-friendly?
Because if we can sever the connection between “flexibility” and “parenthood,” we can start looking at policies to see if they impact productivity without making this about moms. And all of this can be done without reducing overall hours worked.