In what has been called a silver lining to the pandemic, the share of women who are in the labor force has reached an all-time high, in part because of the increased flexibility that came with remote work, which has allowed mothers to more easily juggle professional and child care responsibilities.

But will the choice to work from home affect women’s careers in the long term?

My colleague Sarah Kessler recently wrote about how opting for remote work may make it harder for women to get ahead in their careers. Because office attendance is still often seen as a proxy for productivity, working remotely full time, or working more days from home than others do in a hybrid workplace, could become an updated version of the “mommy track,” a career path in which flexibility comes at the price of lost chances for advancement.

Sarah told me that she began thinking about this issue after hearing company executives lament that employees were taking a break around 5 p.m. to pick up their children from day care and then logging back on at night to finish their work. In other words, some employers were frowning upon the flexibility of remote work.

“The modern work force and the traditional views of what hard work needs to look like don’t add up,” Sarah said. “If companies hire both mothers and fathers, someone is going to have to leave their job on time to pick up the kids. So why is it seen as such a bad thing?”

With the women’s movement in the 1970s, the share of women working in the United States rapidly began increasing, continuing through most of the 1990s. But then the pace slowed, even as it continued increasing in peer countries; economists have attributed the stall in the United States to the lack of family-friendly policies, like paid leave and subsidized child care, my colleague Claire Cain Miller reported.

Today, 77.7 percent of women between the ages of 25 and 54 in the United States are employed, a new high.

A lack of flexibility made it increasingly difficult for women to be available to their jobs at all times, as many employers expected, according to a legal theory published in 1989 by Joan C. Williams, a professor at the University of California Law San Francisco. For 30 years, Williams watched as advancements in technology made remote work easier, and she hoped, to no avail, that it would change employers’ vision of an ideal worker.

Then the pandemic happened. Shutdown orders forced companies to experiment with remote work. Williams regained hope. “Now the ideal worker, in many, many professional jobs, is seen as someone who only shows up to work” — in person — “part time,” she told Sarah.

Some experts think that there’s an opportunity for professional workplaces to update how they organize and evaluate work, Sarah told me. That would mean including assessments that aren’t based on who’s in the office the most.

But many top executives still have said that they believe that remote work is lazy or not for leaders, Sarah said. So remote work could once again be seen as something for less serious workers, as was the case before the pandemic.

“In that case, hybrid work policies might make flexible options more widespread, but work culture will still punish those who use them,” she said. “It could be easier for mothers to stay in the work force or in a full-time job but also make it harder for them to get ahead.”


A Czech reporter saw San Francisco’s highlights. Then he was robbed.

Visit Geyserville, a salt-of-the-earth town in California’s wine country. In one weekend, you can enjoy a 15-course meal, sample small-production wines and try on a cowboy hat.


The Oakland Zoo has a new, much awaited star: A baby reticulated giraffe named Kendi was born last month, the first giraffe born at the zoo in more than a decade.

The calf, a female, was born on Oct. 19 to a giraffe named Kijiji, who was brought to the Northern California zoo from Kansas in 2020. Giraffes are considered critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, a conservation nonprofit. And reticulated giraffes are especially vulnerable because urbanization and farming have diminished their native habitat and illegal wildlife trafficking has reduced their numbers, The Bay Area News Group reports.

The birth was a significant milestone for the zoo, which partners with the Reticulated Giraffe Project in Kenya, an organization working with African communities to bolster their wild giraffe populations. The Oakland Zoo hopes Kendi and her mother will be ambassadors for the cause, reminding zoo visitors of the threats to wild giraffes and the importance of protecting them.

With long toothpick legs and a short neck, Kendi is already a crowd favorite. And you can watch Kendi and her family on the zoo’s live giraffe cam.


Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword.

Maia Coleman and Briana Scalia contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at CAtoday@nytimes.com.

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