Posts Tagged ‘
working moms ’
Friday, July 3rd, 2015
When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I was the never the little girl who responded, “be a mommy”. Up until middle school, I had my heart set on being the next big fashion designer and the thought of motherhood was secondary—if even there at all.
It wasn’t until recently that the idea of having (eventually!) a family of my own grew on me. However, if and when that day comes, I plan to continue my career wholeheartedly.
And that’s why new research from San Diego State University came as a great relief to me. The study, which was published in Psychology of Women Quarterly, confirmed that millennials are more accepting of working mothers than any other previous generation.
In 2010, only 22 percent of surveyed 12th graders thought that a preschool-aged child would be negatively impacted if their mom worked—an all-time low compared to 34 percent in the 1990s and 59 percent in the 1970s.
The same increased support was shown when adults’ perception of mothers reentering the workforce were examined. Only 35 percent of adults in 2012 thought a preschool-aged child would suffer if their mother returned to work, compared to 68 percent in 1977.
The study’s author, Jean Twenge notes, “This goes against the popular belief that millennials want to ‘turn back the clock,’ or that they are less supportive of working moms because their own mothers worked. Instead they are more supportive.”
In my opinion, the decline in belief that children suffer when their moms go off to work is because children are being exposed to a greater variety of household scenarios—whether in their own home, their peers’, or through the media—than previous generations.
I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to watching this pattern continue as support for working mamas grows even greater—since one day I might just be one of them!
Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who came to her senses in high school and realized fashion design was not her calling. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn.
Image: Business women via Shutterstock
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Friday, June 26th, 2015
In case you haven’t heard, tonight is the faceoff between the U.S. women’s soccer team and China in the quarterfinals of the World Cup.
But in case you also haven’t heard, Andy Benoit—a contributor at Sports Illustrated—thinks women’s soccer and “women’s sports in general [are] not worth watching.” And then, in case you still hadn’t caught wind, Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers took DOWN Benoit for his comments in a revival of their former SNL segment “Really!?! With Seth & Amy” on Late Night with Seth Meyers.
Now you’re all caught up.
Aside from the fact that the game will undoubtedly be entertaining, here are 5 reasons you should cuddle up on the couch tonight with your family and cheer on the good ole’ US of A:
1. Model behavior. According to Forbes, soccer is the second most popular youth sport in America. If your child is one of the 25 million kids lacing up her cleats each week, take advantage of this opportunity to inspire her. Even if your kid isn’t on a team, watching elite players will show him the value of sticking with the sport and setting GOOAAAAALLLLLS!!!!
2. Show your pride. There’s something unique about watching these international athletic showdowns. I’m not an unpatriotic person, but I’m also not waving my American flag from the window each day. Yet, when the Olympics or the World Cup roll around, it’s amazing to see the fight, determination, and talent in the athletes battling for our country to take home the title. Our teams are representations of our values. As is the American Dream, we believe in hard work, dedication, and following your passion. Your kids will notice that in the players on the field.
3. Teach them teamwork. Nothing great in life is accomplished alone. They say “it takes a village to raise a child.” When we tune in to awards shows, winners rush to spit out the names of everyone who helped them earn that statue. In soccer, your kids will witness collaboration in action.
4. Inspire your daughter. Sadly, there are too many people who share Benoit’s sentiments: That, somehow, women’s sports are less worthy, entertaining, or competitive than men’s. Show your daughter (and your son) that women are worth watching. The women of this World Cup team are strong, fit and at the top of their game. I think that’s worth the screen time.
5. Support moms like you. Did you know that 3 players on the Women’s World Cup team are moms? Christie Rampone, captain of the U.S. National Team, Shannon Boxx and Amy Rodriguez are all mothers hoping to make their kids proud. Now that sounds like something we can relate to and admire!
P.S. If you want to introduce your kids to the team before you watch, check out these quick videos!
Ruthie Fierberg is an editorial assistant at Parents. Though she does not have children of her own, she’s practically been raising kids since her first babysitting job at age 11. She is also our resident theater aficionado. Follow her on Twitter @RuthiesATrain.
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Thursday, June 4th, 2015
I was on my usual train to work this morning, when I got an email from my child’s school. “Calling all parents!” it began. “Put on your running shoes and come support our Running Club—stop by school TODAY between 11:30-12:30 and join the fun. Run a lap or two with the kids—let’s get fit and healthy together!” The email signed off with: “See you at lunchtime!”
Or not, I thought.
Big picture: I’m grateful we’re part of a school where teachers give up their free time to do amazing things for their students—our children—like launching a running club to get kids moving. (Seriously, how cool is that?) But when I get an email with late notice inviting “all parents” to something, too late for any working parent to possibly make arrangements to attend, I can’t help feeling blindsided, and like, well, whether working parents come or not doesn’t matter, as long as other parents can.
I’ll admit to feeling a little extra-cranky right now, when there are so many events to wrap up the school year, and the opportunities to attend them—or miss them—keep on coming. One of my colleagues is wondering how she’s going to make the “13,000 events in the 13 days left of school.” Thank goodness we both work at a place like Parents that gives us the flexibility to attend most of them. That’s just luck, though—not every working parent can do that. And some rarely get to be at school at all.
The truth: Most of the time, I don’t feel guilty not being at school. Working full-time means I’m just never going to be the Chicken-Nugget Day mom, and I’m cool with that. But missing out is one thing. Deep down, I’m worried how my child feels the many days she sees other moms at school, and her mother isn’t there, even though she’s said she is proud to have a mom who works. I shared my woes with another working-mom friend, who said, “I may have a skewed point of view, but I see all of these events as, ‘How many times can you let your child down?’”
To be sure, at-home moms would appreciate more notice with invitations, too. Just because they’re home doesn’t mean they have the freedom to drop everything and get to school, like so many people assume. They’re often the busiest of caretakers for their families, and without backup. I haven’t forgotten that when I was at home with two kids in school and a baby, a lack of notice bugged me then too, as I didn’t have family nearby to call on for last-minute help. The worst kind of invite? The one that acknowledges it’s late notice, yet goes on to say, “But your kid has been working so hard on X.” So parents who can’t shuffle things around can’t make the event and get to feel guilty about it.
When schools invite “all parents” to events at school with short or no notice, they’re not inviting all parents—only those lucky enough to be home and unencumbered enough to attend. Forget dads (most of whom work), working moms, or even parents who can’t bring a small child in tow and can’t hire a babysitter at the last minute—or at all. I wish schools could do a sensitivity check before sending out invitations like this. They could also give more thought to whether an event calls for parent involvement at all: My Parents colleague Jenna Helwig wrote about that in this blog post earlier this week. Most working parents have to guard their vacation time carefully, to cover everything from parent-teacher conferences to school performances (sometimes for multiple children) to an actual family vacation, when most have only two to three weeks to use for the entire year.
Earlier in the school year, I spoke up to my daughter’s teacher about the sheer number of mid-day school events, and how that sets up most working parents to fail. To my surprise, he not only listened, but responded with a first-thing-in-the-morning classroom writing reception for parents. I went, sat side-by-side with my daughter as she showed off her work, and I headed to a later train, happy and for the moment even a little victorious: My daughter could have a mom who works, and not feel like the only kid in the classroom without a parent there.
I understand it’s not always possible to accommodate parents who work, and schools can’t please everybody. They have other factors to consider, like coordinating events around teachers’ schedules, too. I just wish schools could think and plan this way more often, to have things when more parents—including fathers!—can be there. Our school is planning two evening events in the next couple of weeks. We had lots of notice, and both my husband and I will be there.
And if schools can’t schedule something except in the middle of the day, please let us working parents know, at least a week in advance, though ideally more—especially for those parents who do shift work and can’t make changes so quickly.
Is that too much to ask?
Gail O’Connor is a senior editor at Parents and a mom of three. You can follow her on Twitter @gailwrites.
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Wednesday, May 13th, 2015
Before I explain what it is, I want to tell you about Leith Greenslade, a mom of three daughters (ages 12, 10, and 8) and vice chair at the MDG Health Alliance, an initiative in support of the UN Secretary General’s Every Woman, Every Child movement. Last May, she gave a presentation at Moms+ Social Good in which she discussed the low numbers of mothers in positions of power. (Did you know that of the 50 most powerful companies in the world, only 3 were run by moms last year?) She vowed to look into the statistics in a detailed way, creating a trackable list.
One year later, on May 1, Greenslade launched the Motherhood+Public Power Index. It took a solid four months’ worth of number-crunching in her “spare” time to learn how many U.S. moms held powerful positions, and the results were startling.
- Of the top 40 leaders in government, 5 are mothers. (33 are dads; the rest are not parents.)
- Of the top 40 college presidents, 9 are moms. (27 are fathers.)
- Of the top 40 CEOs, 4 are moms. (35 are dads.)
- Of the top 40 religious leaders, 5 are moms. (27 are fathers.)
“I knew the number of mothers would be bad, because the number of women in these positions is already low. But I was surprised by how bad it was,” explains Greenslade. (You can see exactly who these mothers are, and where they work, here.) Mothers make up 40 percent of the U.S. population, but we hold 14 percent of powerful positions. Fathers also make up 40 percent of our population—but they hold 80 percent of powerful positions. “And these aren’t men with one or two children,” Greenslade explains. “Many of these fathers have three or four children, or more. Moms with lots of kids do not rise, but dads with lots of kids do well.”
Here’s her larger point: These men are the ones making the laws and policies that determine how the workplace functions. (See: our embarrassing family-leave policies; our lack of affordable childcare; our still-too-rare flextime schedules.) “We can’t expect them to really understand the constraints that ordinary working women face,” she says. “They don’t have any clue how we live.”
To that end, Greenslade has an ambitious goal: to get 30 percent of mothers in positions of power. “I know if we do that there will be a total transformation in the workplace and women will be able to shuffle between our two worlds,” she says. “I’m trying to create a movement where mothers feel supported and valued, and they don’t have to withdraw from the workplace when they feel they just can’t do it anymore.”
You’re probably thinking, “Great idea. But how do I help make that happen?” And now we come to the best thing moms can do for one another: We can create an environment that fosters and supports leadership among women in any form. Greenslade has outlined some very manageable ways to do that:
- Get people fired up about the Index. Women and men, moms and dads. Share the numbers with your friends, your coworkers, the organizations you belong to, and your social networks.
- Talk to your children about the disparity in the number of mom leaders and dad leaders. You can bring it to their level, pointing out, perhaps, how many (or how few) principals or superintendents in your school district are mothers.
- Find the moms in power in your circle and tell them you’ve got their back, whether via email or a supportive shout-out on social media. (You can also broaden this to the women Greenslade named in her report.) Talk about them to your fellow moms.
- Take any opportunity you can to lead. Maybe that means being a class mom, or running a PTA committee, or teaching your kid’s religious ed class, or raising your hand the next time your boss is looking for someone to preside over a task force at work.
Next up for Greenslade is to create a Motherhood+Public Power Index for China, Brazil, Russia, and India. And she’ll update the U.S. index every year, just before Mother’s Day. If we all do our part, whether big or small, those pitiful numbers just might start to grow.
Kara Corridan has two daughters, 6 and 9. She’s regretting not volunteering for any PTA committees this year.
Photo via Shutterstock.
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Monday, June 30th, 2014
The TODAY show‘s Matt Lauer interviewed General Motors CEO Mary Barra last Thursday, and he didn’t hold back on the tough questions—asking the car company’s chief about whether there will be additional recalls, whether there was “something criminal going on” at the company, if there was a cover-up involving the ignition switch issue, if cost-cutting played a role, and what it was like for her to talk to grieving family members who lost loved ones due to the problem. Ouch.
But it was a different, more personal, question from the interview that’s still making news. See the partial transcript, posted by Time.com’s Charlotte Alter:
LAUER: You’re a mom, I mentioned, two kids. You said in an interview not long ago that your kids told you they’re going to hold you accountable for one job and that is being a mom.
BARRA: Correct. (smiling.)
LAUER: Given the pressures of this job at General Motors, can you do both well?
BARRA: You know, I think I can. I have a great team, we’re on the right path…I have a wonderful family, a supportive husband and I’m pretty proud of the way my kids are supporting me in this.
Alter ended her post with this: “How’s this for a question: Can Matt Lauer be a good dad and host the Today Show? Let’s discuss.”
Hear, hear. As a working mom (and a journalist myself), I’m simply tired of this question being asked when a high-powered CEO who happens to also be a mom does an interview. Aren’t we past this yet? (Sadly, it appears we’re not.) Lauer took to Facebook to defend the question, writing:
“Thanks for all of the comments and feedback around our interview with GM CEO Mary Barra this morning. I wanted to share some thoughts around one of the questions that has started an important conversation. As part of the interview, I referenced this Forbes article where Barra talked about the challenge of balancing work life and home life. She said, “My kids told me the one job they are going to hold me accountable for is mom.” She had just accepted the job as the first female CEO of a major American automotive company, and in the article she said that she felt horrible when she missed her son’s junior prom. It’s an issue almost any parent including myself can relate to. If a man had publicly said something similar after accepting a high-level job, I would have asked him exactly the same thing. A couple weeks ago, we did a series on “Modern Dads” and the challenges of fatherhood today. Work-life balance was one of our focuses. It’s an important topic, one that I’m familiar with personally, and I hope we can continue the discussion.
But plenty of commenters called bs on that explanation, including the author of the Forbes article Lauer referenced, Joann Muller, who wrote that she “never felt compelled to ask if a ‘mom’ could handle being CEO, because I already knew the answer.”
Sorry, Matt, but I just don’t believe you would have asked a man this question. In fact, I think you’ve probably had ample opportunity to do so in your years as a journalist, yet I’ve never seen that headline come out of one of your interviews. (And I trust that it would, indeed, be a headline: Newsflash! Male CEO Asked if He Can Be a Good Dad and Run a Company at the Same Time!”)
It’s true that Barra herself has brought up the work-life balance issue—but frankly, given the seriousness of the issues facing GM right now, how is her personal life even relevant? How Barra performs in the job of CEO of a huge, public multinational company—one that makes products that can potentially affect the lives of every single person on the road—is certainly my business. But how she’s doing in the job of mom? That’s hers.
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