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Why We Need to End the ‘All or Nothing’ Mentality About Working Mothers

Topics: Current Events
If you're rolling your eyes at yet another working mother post, then you're the exact person who needs to be reading this the most. You, like most of society, sigh with annoyance that working moms are at it again, whining about how hard it is to succeed in a career because corporate America won't let you play with its toys. This article isn't here to prove you wrong or convince you that the Earth is flat -- its purpose is to ask that you step back from your conventional ideals and ask yourself, "Am I part of the problem, too?"

If you’re rolling your eyes at yet another working mother post, then you’re the exact person who needs to be reading this the most. You, like most of society, sigh with annoyance that working moms are at it again, whining about how hard it is to succeed in a career because corporate America won’t let you play with its toys. This article isn’t here to prove you wrong or convince you that the Earth is flat — its purpose is to ask that you step back from your conventional ideals and ask yourself, “Am I part of the problem, too?”

all or nothing

(Photo Credit: Jose Picardo/Flickr)

It’s easy to point the finger at the other person when you have your guard up. This is what happens when society feels like you’ve beaten a dead horse on a topic. However, that’s not the case here, because the struggle is real for working mothers (even in today’s “progressive” society), so hear us out.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Take, for instance, Katharine Zaleski’s recent public apology to working mothers. She states, “I wish I had known five years ago, as a young, childless manager, that mothers are the people you need on your team.” Zaleski, who is co-founder and president of PowerToFly, admitted to being one of those people who believed that a mother was less capable of doing well in the workplace simply because she had a family to care for at home. She even confessed to passing on a candidate simply because she was a mother. This type of ignorance is what deters mothers from wanting to jump back into their careers after having children.

In Kelly Brusch’s Huffington Post article, she tells readers about her experience of losing out on a job because of her mommy status. She explains how the heartbreaking news was delivered to her via phone call by her soon-to-be boss, “She firmly explained they would no longer be offering me the job because it sounds like I was unable to commit to the position and that this clearly was not what I was looking for.”

What happened to convince her future employer that she wasn’t committed to the job at hand? Brusch inquired about the work schedule and how other employees manage their commutes and work-life balance. Apparently, that was enough to get her dream job offer rescinded and her career dreams shattered.

Zaleski’s confirms this all-too-common occurrence in her Fortune Magazine post as she declares, “I know there are still a lot of people like my 28-year-old self — they undervalue mothers’ contributions because they count hours logged in the office and not actual work. Most mothers lose if that’s the barometer for productivity.” That’s not working mothers whining, that’s working mothers asking for a fair shot in the workplace.

The moral of the story here is, don’t be so quick to judge a book by its cover. The decision to manage a family and a career shouldn’t be viewed as a hindrance, it should be a reality that is acknowledged — embraced, even. Then we can all move on with our own lives and careers as usual.

It’ll take a while for stereotypes of working mothers to change, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t take baby steps to expedite a solution. Working mothers are valuable assets to have in the workplace for many reasons. We must stop thinking that they’re going to cause the ship to sink once they’re on board. The truth of the matter is, if the ship were to sink, it’s pretty likely that the mother aboard would be the one responsible for everyone’s survival in the end.

Tell Us What You Think

What are some other ways we can change the landscape for working mothers? Share your ideas with our community on Twitter and join the conversation.

Leah Arnold-Smeets
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