The Princeton- and Harvard-educated lawyer is scaling back to 20 percent of her full-time duties as vice president of community and external affairs at the University of Chicago Hospitals. In addition, this week she quit a highly paid board position for a food company supplier for Wal-Mart stores.
The decision to almost quit her day job has led to criticism from some feminists wondering whether her husband's political advisers played a role in this. They also fear Obama's decision could have a negative effect on women's advancement in the workplace. Debra Dickerson writes: "I am not saying Michelle Obama is just another member of the so-called opt-out revolution; clearly, her reasons for leaving her job are historic -- and even so, she clearly seems pained to do it. And I hate to add to Michelle's load, but even though she's made the choice to leave work, I hope she'll keep her role in women's history in mind and increase the tiny inroad political wives have made into something approaching women's freedom of choice."
Personally, I can relate to the feminist angst but refuse to spend too much time worrying about Michelle Obama's decision. She is in a singular position (to wit, a marriage partnership with a presidential contender) and simply cannot be counted as one of the Ivy League-educated Opt-Out Revolutionaries so widely denounced by hard-working, highly educated career women.
Michelle Obama now spends most of her time on the campaign trail. As a result, she says she made the decision to scale back her hours at her public relations job so she could carve out some time with the couple's two daughters. Obama is not saying when or if she will return to work.
By Bonnie Erbe