Senator Tammy Duckworth made history – again – on Thursday, becoming the first senator to cast a vote while cradling an infant.
What Do I Do With This Thing?
New mother Tammy Duckworth faces a dilemma common among working parents; What the heck do I do with my kid(s) when I have to go to work?
In Duckworth’s case, the problem was exacerbated by strict rules prohibiting children at her workplace. Oh yeah; Did I mentioned her workplace is the U.S. Senate?
Fortunately for the Illinois Senator, the Senate voted unanimously to change the rule banning children under the age of one from chambers the night before she was due to cast an important vote on the confirmation of the next NASA administrator.
Duckworth, who already made history by becoming the first senator to give birth while in office, said the rule change helps “bring the Senate into the 21st Century by recognizing that sometimes new parents also have responsibilities at work,” reported Politico.
“By ensuring that no Senator will be prevented from performing their constitutional responsibilities simply because they have a young child, the Senate is leading by example and sending the important message that working parents everywhere deserve family-friendly workplace policies,” Duckworth said in a statement after the vote, according to CNN.
'By ensuring that no Senator will be prevented from (working) because they have a young child, the Senate is sending the important message that working parents everywhere deserve family-friendly workplace policies.' - Sen. Tammy Duckworth
A New Mother’s Impossible Choice
Duckworth’s situation is unique due to her job as a U.S. Senator, and it’s heartening to see an institution as “typically staid” and “bound by tradition” as the Senate accommodate new mothers, who are often faced with an impossible choice.
Writes Bethany Mandel for NBC News, “Duckworth and countless other American women are often forced to make a choice when they become mothers: Leave their newborns behind in order to return to work full-time, or leave the careers for which they’ve worked in order to be home with their children.”
“Countless books have been written about how mothers can “have it all” — care for their children, their careers, and if there’s time, themselves — but there’s no magic solution to what’s proven an intractable problem for too many women. And the Senate may have (for a change) stumbled on a workable model that can help stressed out mothers and babies adjusting to their new reality.”
Most mothers who leave the workforce in order to raise their children face significant hurdles when they return to work. And if women return to a career after an absence of several years working as a stay-at-home mom, they usually find their earning power significantly reduced. In fact, recent research has shown that the gender pay gap effectively doubles for women who become mothers.
Making workplaces welcoming for mothers and children proves, as Mandel writes, “Women can be mothers and productive members of society simultaneously, if given the opportunity.”
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