Women comprise nearly half of today’s workforce. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 47.7 percent of households are dual-income, with both the husband and wife working. What’s more, approximately 70 percent of these women are also mothers, who handle a vast majority of the household responsibilities along with their careers. It’s not surprising, then, that working mothers are struggling to keep up with the high demands of juggling their personal and professional lives simultaneously. Here’s what working mothers need in order to get a fair shot at attaining their goals in and out of the workplace.
(Photo Credit: JD Hancock/Flickr)
1. Pay Equality
Despite the passing of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 that made it illegal for women to be paid less than men for similar work, women still earn less than their male counterparts in 2015, often because they “choose” careers that offer more flexibility and lower pay. (See the next two points on the list for why that might be the case.)
Overall, women make roughly 80 cents for every dollar a man earns, and, unfortunately, those numbers worsen for women of color. Women are working twice as hard to be considered half as good as a man and earning less for equal work. It isn’t right. Maybe women should perform at 80 percent of their potential so they don’t feel cheated anymore, right?
2. Paid Parental Leave
Sadly enough, the U.S. is the only industrialized nation in the world to not offer paid leave for new parents. This reality forces many working parents to use their accrued vacation/sick leave to bond with their newborn, which doesn’t buy much time at all. Paid parental leave would allow working parents, especially working mothers, the time and financial means to truly bond with their new child without having to stress about making ends meet or going back to work prematurely.
3. Flexible Work Schedules
Studies show that working mothers reduce their working hours to accommodate their children’s schedules, which means moms are the ones sacrificing their careers for the sake of the family. If working parents (not just moms) were given more liberty with their schedules, maybe then households would be more balanced and that would carry over to the workplace as well.
4. More Advancement Opportunities
Working mothers are plagued with the stigma that they don’t care or cannot care as much about their careers because their priorities lie with their children. In a recent Harvard Business School study, one female participant indicated that she was not as satisfied with her career as she had previously hoped because, as she says, there are “deep-rooted attitudes that a woman should be the primary caregiver, so it is ‘understood’ that her career may have to take a backseat for a while as similar male colleagues move ahead at a more rapid pace.”
5. More Help in the Household
The bottom line is, working mothers have too much on their plates. More women are working nowadays, but they’re also still handling the same amount, if not more, of household responsibilities than their mothers or grandmothers. To be exact, women manage and take care of 60 percent of the household and childcare responsibilities, and, yes, this statistic applies to working women, too. It’s time to speak up and ask for help, ladies. It’s not a matter of life or death, but it is a matter of whether you want equality in this lifetime or not.
What can we all do right now to better the circumstances for working mothers (and fathers) in America? We can all keep talking about these very real issues, keep spreading awareness, and keep pushing for equality in and out of the workplace. Career-oriented women shouldn’t have to choose between having a successful career or having children, because we should all (men and women, alike) should be able to have our cake and eat it too.
Tell Us What You Think
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