Set out in 1962 to help women find a...

WHEN FELICE SCHWARTZ

February 17, 1996

WHEN FELICE SCHWARTZ set out in 1962 to help women find a foothold in the work force, who could predict that feminists of a later era would brand her a heretic? But Ms. Schwartz, who died last week at age 71, was never afraid of controversy.

She got plenty from her erstwhile allies after she began a 1989 article in the Harvard Business Review with an explosive sentence: "The cost of employing women in management is greater than the cost of employing men." She went on to argue that corporations need the talents of women, even when they become mothers and find themselves torn between their duties at the office and their responsibilities at home. If companies accommodate the needs that arise for mothers, she insisted, the pay-off will be worthwhile.

She never used the term "mommy track," but that label was coined by a journalist to describe the article. It stuck -- and ignited a furious war of words among women who felt that Ms. Schwartz had put even more obstacles in the hard road women face in the trek to the top.

Now, as corporations rush to downsize and shed management jobs, few managers, men or women, have the luxury of contemplating time off the fast track -- while still remaining employed. And if things are still tough for working mothers, there is at least somewhat broader recognition that both mothers and fathers share parental responsibilities.

Ms. Schwartz will probably always be remembered for the "mommy track" controversy. But that should not obscure her great accomplishments in helping women up the corporate ladder.

JUST WHEN the return of a strapping Magic Johnson to basketball lulled people into a relative calm over AIDS, along comes boxer Tommy Morrison to remind us anew of the dangers.

Mr. Morrison, a heavyweight fighter heretofore best known for his appearance in a "Rocky" movie, was suspended from boxing last week after he tested positive for the virus that causes AIDS. "I'm here to tell you I thought that I was bulletproof, and I'm not," a remorseful Morrison said on national TV. "I honestly believed I had a better chance of winning the lottery than contracting this disease. I've never been so wrong in my life."

The juxtaposition of the Johnson and Morrison tales are almost eerie: Just weeks ago, Mr. Johnson's return to basketball from an HIV-forced exile was being lauded as a sign of heightened sensitivity toward AIDS. Basketball stars who openly criticized Mr. Johnson's earlier attempts to un-retire welcomed him back. Far from the emaciated face associated with the disease, Johnson presented a stunning visage of health, his biceps bulging from a relentless regimen of weight training.

Then the Morrison bulletin rang through boxing's insular world, casting doubt on the safety of fighters and the people who often come in contact with their blood.

The unimaginably promiscuous lifestyles that sports stars Morrison and Johnson blamed for their infections are not afforded your typical Joe. Still, thousands of people are failing to protect themselves against the risk of AIDS. The rate of growth in the disease among heterosexual sex partners is triple what it is for homosexuals. Just as Magic Johnson has used his marquee existence to try to educate sports fans about the dangers of AIDS, Tommy Morrison says he intends to do the same in trying to get more Americans to take precautions against this fatal disease.

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