Many young women feel they must choose between pursuing a career and having children. While support is (slowly) growing for paid family leave and employer-supported day care, only a few role models exist of women in senior leadership roles who are also new mothers. Some recent examples provide inspiration for both women and men. Charlotte Graham-McLay of the New York Times reports that Prime Minister Jacinda Arden of New Zealand recently became only the second world leader to give birth while in office (Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan was the first in 1990). While Prime Minister Arden acknowledged that she is privileged to have a partner who will be a stay-at-home parent, she also speaks openly about how her dual responsibilities as a leader and a parent still require a balancing act. “And there is guilt behind every door,” she explains. Her hope is that one day women will be able to feel satisfied with making choices and doing the best they can in both the workplace and the family without guilt. Prime Minister Arden notes that seeing women who are both leaders and new parents is still unusual, but she predicts that one day this situation will become normal. In fact, in the New Zealand Parliament, at least five lawmakers returned to work after the most recent elections as parents of babies under a year old. In the United States, Senator Tammy Duckworth became the first senator to deliver a baby while in office in April 2018, forcing changes in senate rules that previously did not allow children in the senate chamber. Another example of a new mother forging pathways is Rebecca Slaughter, a newly appointed Federal Trade Commission (FTC) commissioner—one of the nation’s top business regulators in Washington, DC. Cecilia Kang of the New York Times reports that Slaughter, who gave birth to her third child on the day of her nomination to the FTC, brings her nursing baby to work. Slaughter shares that while she is tired, she cares deeply about her career and her family and it feels worth it to navigate the two. None of the senior leaders in these examples say that having a new baby and a career is easy, but they stress that certain adaptations can help, like cutting back on business travel and evening networking events. Kang reports that the male colleagues of Slaughter say that her decision to continue working with the baby helps all working parents. What has worked for you? Photo by Sai De Silva on Unsplash]]>
We have heard a lot in recent months about sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the workplace, thanks to the #MeToo movement. But one form of gender discrimination we don’t hear a lot about is the deeply ingrained antimotherhood bias that takes a heavy toll on women’s pay and careers. Antimotherhood bias includes bias and discrimination against pregnant women, as reported by Natalie Kitroeff and Jessica Silver-Greenberg of the New York Times, who share a range of painful stories of women being fired or demoted for being pregnant. It also includes bias and discrimination against women once they have children, which is often casual, open, and unapologetic, according to Katherine Goldstein of the New York Times, even though this discriminations is illegal. This systemic bias is found in large corporations, such as Merck and Walmart, government organizations, and small businesses. Claire Cain Miller writes that antimother bias may account for most of the stubborn gender pay gap. Miller, Goldstein, Kitroeff, and Silver-Greenberg note these recent findings:
- Research regularly shows that mothers are routinely viewed as less competent and committed to their jobs, even by other women, despite evidence to the contrary. This bias can result in women being bypassed for promotions, high visibility assignments, and bonuses when they have a child.
- A study published in the American Journal of Sociology found that in instances where job candidates were equal in every other way, being a mother reduced the chance that a candidate would be offered the job by 37 percentage points. The recommended salary for mothers who were offered the job was $11,000 less on average than for childless female candidates. This hiring bias does not affect fathers at all. In fact, fathers tend to make more money than their childless male counterparts.
- Couples today tend to have similar incomes at the beginning of their careers until their first child is born. Immediately after the first birth, the pay gap between spouses doubles, entirely driven by a drop in the mother’s pay, while men’s wages keep rising.
- When women have their first child between the ages of 25 and 35, their pay never recovers, relative to that of their husbands. This is less true if the first child is born before 25 or after 35 because the woman’s career either has not yet gotten started before 25 or is already established by the time she is in her late 30s.
- Each child chops 4 percent off a woman’s hourly wage, according to a study conducted in 2014 by the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and the pay gap grows larger for each additional child born.
- Even in families in which both parents work full time, women spend almost double the time on housework and childcare. This often means that women work fewer hours, are paid proportionately less, and become less likely to get promotions or raises.
- Programs to help women reenter the workforce
- Flexibility in when and where work gets done
- Subsidized childcare
- Time off for men after children are born so they can spend more time on childcare
The commercial aviation industry remains one of the toughest and least accommodating for new mothers. Annalyn Kurtz of the New York Times notes that “pilots are exempt from a provision in the Affordable Care Act requiring employers to accommodate new mothers.” Perhaps because only 4 percent of the 159,000 certified commercial airline pilots are women, and only a portion of these are childbearing age, the issues of paid maternity leave and accommodation for breast-feeding are not priorities for union collective bargaining efforts. Many male pilots are also not supportive of fighting for these policy changes on behalf of their female colleagues because they do not see the policies as important. For these reasons, female pilots have begun to join forces to pressure their male colleagues and unions to support demands for paid maternity leave and alternative work assignments so that women can keep their jobs and support their families during pregnancy and while nursing newborns. Female pilots are in a unique situation in that providing accommodation, time, or privacy for breast pumping while on the job is no simple matter. Because female pilots are on the job in the cockpit of an airplane, they cannot easily gain privacy for pumping without leaving the cockpit, usually for about twenty minutes at a time, which can raise safety concerns. While a flight attendant can enter the cockpit while the female pilot is pumping in the bathroom to meet the requirement of having at least two people present at all times in the flight deck, not everyone feels this arrangement is acceptable for safety purposes. For this reason, female pilots are demanding paid maternity leave or temporary ground assignments while pregnant or nursing so that they can continue to support their families. Without paid leave, they must choose between earning a living or breast-feeding their babies. Some airlines also force pregnant pilots to stop flying between eight to fourteen weeks before birth, which means lost wages. While some airlines offer unpaid leave, this does not allow the female pilot to pay her bills. Paid leave and temporary ground assignments would be reasonable accommodations for female pilots. Female flight attendants face many of the same issues. It’s time for the aviation industry to change their antiquated policies and create a more inclusive workplace. The image in this post is in the public domain courtesy of Poli.]]>