Thursday, March 10, 2011

why are mothers undervalued at work?

There's been some (or a lot) of controversy about Katy Read's recent essay about the negative financial impact of becoming a stay-at-home mom. Early in her career, Katy was a successful journalist, married to an equally paid journalist. Two children, many years of free-lance work, and a divorce later, she finds herself unable to find employment and in a dire financial situation. While her husband's salary has increased significantly and he will enjoy retirement and health benefits, she is unable to find work that pays much less than the one she initially had. As a free-lance journalist, she ,of course, does not have healthcare or retirement benefits.

While some who read Katy's essay find it controversial that she implies that "opting out" of the workplace to become a stay-at-home mom is a bad idea, what I find discouraging is what led her to that conclusion. She  points out that mothers get paid less than equally qualified non-mothers. They also get fewer opportunities in the workplace, slowly falling behind men and non-mothers within their companies. It's discouraging that we as a nation don't allow flexibility and room for mothers to simultaneously be mothers and excell at work. After all, the endless stress and less-than-exciting assignments that came along when Katy became a mom where big contributors to her decision to stop working full time. It's also discouraging that, once a mother is ready to return to the workplace, she is likely to find herself at a large disadvantage. This is applicable even if she has stayed active and current in her field.

Why is it that mothers who decide to take a hiatus from the workplace encounter such obstacles? If anything, being a mother has developed their multi-tasking skills, tripled their capacity for carrying a tough workload, and increased their patience by 100 times!

Are you a mom trying to get back into the workplace? What have been your experiences?


  1. I could not agree with you more! The lessons we learn as mothers are invaluable! I would hire a mother any day over a father. Mothers have a keen sense of detail, and the multi-task...YES!!! Visiting from SITS today =)

  2. I am watching many of my co-workers become mothers and deciding to stay at home. It is remarkable how hard of a choice this is due to the exact reasons of this article. Many people are very critical of their decision to stay at home and for the most part it is other women that are critical, sadly. I'm not sure what the answer is but I think women being more supportive of toher women's choices is the first step.