American working moms have it tough, no matter where they live. The U.S. lags behind every other developed nation when it comes to maternity leave. The United States has no federally mandated paid leave, and the Family and Medical Leave Act provides only 12 weeks of unpaid leave for qualified workers. Work for a company with fewer than 50 employees, or find yourself pregnant at a new job, and you might be out of luck. At the state level, however, some places are easier for working moms to call home than others.
(Photo Credit: Carolyn Coles/Flickr)
Recently, WalletHub ranked all 50 states and the District of Columbia according to metrics like child care (including quality and costs), professional opportunities (including gender wage gap, median salary, ratio of female to male executives), and work-life balance (including parental leave and length of workday).
These were the top 5 states on the list:
In general, blue states were easier on working moms than red ones. The bottom line, however, is that no matter how relatively mom-friendly a given state is, according to these rankings, very little will improve for working women until they’re protected by federal leave laws and other supportive policies that make balancing a career and a family less burdensome.
Additionally, as one commentator in WalletHub‘s analysis points out, the real victory will be when work-life balance issues aren’t seen solely as the province and responsibility of women.
“The bigger issue, in my mind, is why you are asking [questions about work-life balance] only of women,” says Maureen Perry-Jenkins, Director of the Center for Research on Families at University of Massachusetts Amherst. “If men are involved in an equal partnership then they too struggle with managing work and family.”
Progress, then, might look like Sweden’s model of parental leave, in which men are encouraged to take time off to care for children by being granted paid leave that can’t be transferred to their female partners. More leave for dads means less exclusive focus on moms as either the primary caregiver of small children … or, from the company’s perspective, a potential productivity drain once family emerges on the scene.
But for American parents, currently guaranteed virtually nothing in the way of help juggling professional and personal responsibilities, any paid leave would be a help.
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