I’m a User Experience Architect.
If for some reason I decided to take two years to become an abstract sculptor – well, Mazel Tov for me, but barring some pretty significant Contract-Fu on my part, I’m not going to get paid to be a User Experience Architect. Or sculptor, to be honest, but that’s skirting the point.
If you’re not doing the thing that you’re supposedly getting paid for, unless your potential services are so valuable that the client is willing to pay to keep that potential on tap, you might need another source of income.
National Public Radio seems to have taken up the “cause” of female athletes – Olympians, mind you – whose athletic sponsorships are jeopardized by taking time off from their sports to have kids. NPR’s Michel Martin talked with runner Alysia Montano about the way she was thrown out on the street after becoming pregnant:
And so in that off-year, I’d hoped that we would conceive and be able to have our daughter and return to the sport. And I did conceive. I did have my daughter. And my daughter was two months old. And I got a phone call that said, I want to talk about your contracts in regard to your performance this year – which means – you mean the year that I’ve been with child? And then I was – my payment was reduced.
Her payment – for running – was reduced, not eliminated, during a year in which her running was eliminated?
OK, surely she suffered grievously in other ways:
MARTIN: And what about your health benefits? I mean, that was another thing that emerged in the reporting on this is that there are athletes whose health insurance was terminated. And I can’t think a very thing – many things more frightening than either being pregnant or having a child or having a newborn with no health insurance – summarily terminated. So what about you? Did you at least have health insurance to cover the delivery or the postpartum period?
MONTANO: Yes. So the way that it works is a tier system. The luck that I did have with my daughter was I fell within the tier system because I made the Olympic team in 2012, and the protection was there for me. Now, if I didn’t make the Olympic team in 2012 and I became pregnant, I would lose my health insurance.
So let me get this straight – Nike is paying you to…run. Something that, all due respect, is the nich-iest of niche sports – a sport that literally nobody ever in history has gone into thinking of making a living at. And when you’re running, albeit not an Olympic level for a year, due to a personal (albeit blessed) choice that biology has pretty much limited to you, you still got paid.
Could there be a more first world problem?
Well, I suppose when you’re talking about “elite” athletes…:
My point and my stance is this should not be because I am an Olympian. This needs to be something that is in place for women athletes regardless.
“Regardless” of what? Level? Sport?
If I’m a company selling – let me stress this – sneakers, and I’m paying someone to…run, am I bound to support them unto death, regardless?
And am I the only one frantically and vainly combing their memory right now looking for a male athlete with an endorsement contract that included years of…well, not using the product?
Apparently when I call this a First World Problem, I’m only off by magnitude:
MARTIN: There are other women in this fight with you. We saw Alysia Montano and Kara Goucher share similar stories. What does it mean to have them alongside you?
Montano later notes the real problem:
She says she wants to make sure Nike writes this protection into the contracts of new and current female athletes because, she says, track and field athletes tend to sign contracts before they are the age in which women typically start thinking about having families, and by the time they do, they are locked into contracts without protections for maternity leave.
So it’s a matter of business education, as opposed to rampant sexism.