Americans Need Family Friendly Social Policy
“Women will never achieve equality until mothers do.” – Joan Williams
Motherhood is esteemed as valuable in the US, after all, women give birth and nurture to the future leaders and citizens of our great country. Further, women do most of the caregiving and miss most days from work associated with pregnancy, childbirth, and childrearing. Why, then, is a woman discriminated against, belittled, and made to feel incompetent and uncommitted in the workplace just because she becomes a mother?
Perhaps all the talk about the value of mothers is just lip service?
Birth is a transforming, empowering, life changing experience. Yet, once a woman becomes a mother society gives her less opportunity.
Studies show that mothers earn less than women without children. Controlling for all other factors which could otherwise explain the gap, there remains a 5% average decrease per child in a woman’s pay,” says National Association of Mothers’ Centers Advocacy Coordinator Valerie Young. “Women with children are viewed as less competent, less committed, and deserving of lower salaries. In contrast, men with children generally earn more than men who are not fathers and are perceived as more reliable, steady, and motivated to do well.”
With this stark wage gap, one could even say that society cheats mothers out of hard-earned wages, despite the fact that they are raising the future of America.
To support fit and fearless birth and the rite of passage that transforms a woman into a mother, the American workplace must change. What’s in it for me, someone without children might say? What’s in it for you is future economic security. Studies support that early childhood education and quality childcare is critical for development and ultimately produces stronger, more capable workers later in life. Without a strong workforce, we have no economy.
Without support of maternal leave and family-friendly social policies, our country and its entire economic future is at risk.
To borrow the words of John Lennon,