We are a grassroots
coalition. Our mission
is to improve the
economic well-being
of mothers and other
family caregivers.

mom reading to son.jpg
MOTHERS is a netroots community of mothers and other family caregivers who look after children or other dependent family members.

We promote social change to enhance the economic security of those who do carework, both exclusively or in conjunction with paid employment.

Click here to learn more…


September 5, 2013: Labor Day the Women's Way:Did you know the US Department of Labor has a whole office devoted to expanding opportunities for women in paid employment?  The Women's Bureau's mission includes furthering  "the interests of working women; to advocate for their equality and economic security for themselves and their families; and to promote quality work environments."  If you believe in pay equity, gender discrimination, and the role of child care policy in women's economic status, the Women's Bureau has your back.  Here is the Labor Day message from the federal agency working on those goals.

September 5, 2013: Why Should You Care About Minimum Wage Laws?:There were protests and demonstrations in about 60 American cities on August 29th in support of increasing the minimum wage, particularly for fast food and restaurant workers.  Most people assume that low wage workers are teens, or others not entirely dependent on their own earnings for their support.  In fact, the vast majority of low-wage workers are over 20 years old.  More than 30% of these workers are over 40.  Minimum wage policy is clearly not kid's stuff.  More than half of minimum wage workers are women, and of these, nearly a third are supporting (or trying to) dependent children.  Most are working full-time, and earning at least half of the entire household income.  So, yes, let's be frank - minimum wage policy is very much a women's issue, a family issue, and a national economic security issue.

September 5, 2013:Child Care in the US:  All Over the Map: Much of the child care in this country is well below the quality it ought to be.   This is a problem for kids, of course, but also directly affects  parents' work availability, household income, stress levels, and other aspects of family life.  The burden falls mostly on mothers, married or not, because mothers are still expected to manage or perform most child care.  Our friends at the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) just released  Better for Babies: A Study of State Infant and Toddler Child Care Policies, which lists the following as "key findings":

  • In most states, child-to-provider ratios and group sizes exceed national expert recommendations. Further, a hand­ful of states do not regulate group size at all.
  • While more than half of states (30) reported having specific infant-toddler training for providers, most state require­ments for the number of hours of training are minimal, and the content of training curricula related to infants and toddlers is limited.
  • Twenty-one states report licensing standards that require a consistent primary caregiver for infants and toddlers. A few additional states encourage continuity of care through other means, including regulations, policies, or waivers.
  • Most state standard subsidy reimbursement rates for infants in center-based care fail to meet federally recommended levels.
  • Twenty-two states report offering rate differentials or higher payment rates for infant-toddler care. Higher payment rates for infant-toddler care can offset higher costs and support quality enhancements.
  • Forty-one states report subsidy policies that pay child care providers for days when a child is absent, a policy particularly important for infants and toddlers who have more frequent illnesses and require more frequent doctor visits than older children.
  • Fourteen states reported using direct contracts with child care providers in their subsidy system to increase the supply or improve the quality of subsidized infant-toddler care.

Improving child care will necessarily include addressing these issues.  Of course, we have to deal with the fact that only 1 out of every 6 children poor enough to be eligible for a child care subsidy actually receives it.  And care for all children above that threshold can be hugely expensive, and vary greatly in quality too.  The President's efforts to improve early education are definitely a start.

September 5, 2013: Keep Your Eye on the "Caring Economy Campaign":A caring economy values the contributions of all people, especially those who sustain people and the planet, and that's women, of course!! (Full disclosure:  The NAMC is a part of this coalition, and Your (Wo)Man in Washington, Valerie Young, is a proud member of the Advisory Council.)  You should take a look at their newsletter to learn about a new bill to be introduced when Congress reconvenes called the "Family Act", creating a paid family and medical leave insurance program.  How it will work and why we need it is explained right hereYou can also find out about the leadership program, a seminar-style online interactive course that will turn you into a confident leader for change.

September 5, 2013:  "Opting Out" Resurfaces in a BIG Way: It's been 10 years since the New York Times Magazine published the "Opt Out Revolution" article suggesting educated and well-compensated women were leaving the workplace in droves, preferring to stay home with their children.  Fiercely debated for years, critics insisted that most women didn't have a choice, and the "opting out" notion was largely overblown.  Most mothers simply have to work for economic reasons.  The minority of mothers, those who could afford to forego paid employment, often bailed because the lack of flexibility made working intolerable.   With the benefit of hindsight, the New York Times takes another look, in a big feature in its Sunday Magazine titled The Opt Out Generation Wants Back InSome women found themselves in dire straits, if their marriage crumbled after they'd been home for years.  Others struggled to find any employment.  Many were able to re-enter the paid work world, but found themselves in less prestigious positions and with far lower salaries. 

Once again, the reaction was loud.   Everybody had a story to share, and share they did, on the NYT parenting blog, in "Why Opt Out Moms Can't Catch Up" from Forbes, and from The Broad Side, "I Regret Having Opted Out".  The NYT also printed a handful of letters to the editor.  My take-away:  there is a serious disconnect between paid employment and mothers, who have ambitions as both parents AND workers.  Most reported frustration, either from being all in at work and not being able to mother how they wanted, or having to give up on their professional identities entirely to mother exclusively.  Their personal sacrifice, in the public sphere, reveals gaping economic inefficiencies.  To achieve their potential, children need to be well-cared for (by both mothers and fathers).  To maximize their economic potential, parents need to be able to move quickly and smoothly between work and other obligations.  We continue to pay a huge price, personally and nationally, for our failure to update workplace policy that responds to today's workers.

July 18, 2013: A-B-C, 1-2-3: The interest in early education and child care, always a central issue for families, continues to keep advocates (that's us) and policy makers working together.  Zero to Three, a national non-profit for early childhood development, hosted an online Rally4Babies and invited Jennifer Garner, Soledad O'Brien, and other celebrities to the party.  Not only do they explain how a child's first few years influence so much of what follows, but the critical role mothers, fathers, and teachers play is highlighted as well.  You can watch the Rally on video - it's 41 minutes well spent.  If you want to support this cause, the National Women's Law Center wants to hear your story about how your child has benefitted from high quality early learning.  Let them know about your experience here. They'll make sure it gets to members of Congress.  And if they don't do what you want them to, remember to elect somebody else next time!

July 18, 2013:  Who's Online?  Family Caregivers, That's Who!: Men and women who look after children or other dependent adults are more likely to be surfing the web, looking for better ways to care for those they love, and for dealing with the stress that work generates.  But does the internet deliver?  Not so much, according to a new Pew study.  The bad news is that most family caregivers report unsatisfactory results looking for online resources.  The good news is that data is being collected and family care is seen as a topic worthy of study and discussion.  That kind of information is crucial in advocating for policies that will make caregivers' lives healthier and more productive.  Bring it!

July 18, 2013: Why Aren't We Finland?: A higher percentage of their babies live until age 5.  They have affordable child care, paid parental leave, family income supports, happier people, greater equality, and less poverty.  On the other hand, people in the US get to buy more stuff.  Or at least some of the people do.  Why the big difference?  There's more than one reason, of course, but according to The Secret to Finland's Success with Schools, Moms, Kids, ...and Everything, in The Atlantic, ".... because women helped form modern Finland, things like maternity leave and child benefits naturally shaped its welfare structure decades later."  Ah, so that's why having women in elected office makes a difference!  Note to self - elect more women.

 July 18, 2013: Short Shorts - or stuff that I want in this enews but my editors say it's too long already!!: 

  • Strong and Happy Girls..or how I wish women were portrayed in the media all the time. "Girls Like Us" is a 31 second video from ESPN to share with your daughters...and sons.  It's GREAT!
  • Ambition in a different form....Moms know that raising children and running a household, even with an all-in partner, takes LOTS of time and energy.  Sure we want to succeed at work - but we mostly want to be sure our children are getting what they need, and that we have time to be present as parents, according to "Coveting Not a Corner Office, But Time at Home" in the NYT.
  • What are you due?  Those great women at Legal Momentum, a wonky non-profit working for women's economic security, put together this nifty map  and the accompanying guide that will tell you what your state offers in terms of maternity leave, pregnancy discrimination protection, and breastfeeding rights.   If you're deep into these issues, you'll also want to take a look at the Institute for Women's Policy Research's new report on "Maternity, Paternity, and Adoption Leave".       

July 2, 2013: The Math in Your Marriage: Attentive readers of this enews will remember Betsey Stevenson from the last edition where I mentioned her nomination to the President's Council of Economic Advisers.  She took a turn in front of the mic, with her partner and the father of her children, Justin Wolfers (check out that accent!), to talk about the economics of marriage.  It's a 47 minute video, and will get you thinking about how the work gets done in your own home, and how money influences so much more of your marriage than you think.  Listen while you work out, or make dinner, or commute - you'll find gender, politics, money and sex right here.

July 2, 1013: Opting Out of Motherhood: Fewer women are choosing to become mothers.  If enough women make that decision, everything will change.  This article from AlterNet talks about the reasons for that choice - did you think about any of them?

And then there’s the push, the realization that having children may incur financial and psychic costs that a person can’t or doesn’t want to pay. The conditions for parenting today are, in many ways, incredibly averse. Whereas for most of human history, children contributed to households and communities, today they are a financial burden instead of a help. Alongside this development, the amount of time parents are expected to invest in children has skyrocketed, as have the demands on workers. The bars for good parenting is set higher than ever, spending significant amounts of time at work is non-negotiable for most, and social and state support has been waning. This turns life into a macabre version of the old spectacle of spinning plates. 

July 2, 2013: Boring, Boring, Wonky, Wonky: I got into the women's advocacy business because I just couldn't ignore how often mothers are on the losing side of the equation.  For instance, women's poverty rates are nearly double men's, there are fewer of us with access to power and resources, and so much of our time is spent doing unpaid or poorly paid activity.  Minimum wage policy may not be exciting, and you may think it just doesn't figure in your life, but you can't ignore the fact that almost half of ALL minimum wage workers are women.  In fact, there are twice as many adult women in minimum wage jobs than adult men.  I just cannot accept that women PREFER low paying work - something else is going on here.  A bill to increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 has been floating around Capitol Hill for ages, without success.  Here's a great interactive map with state by state info about women and the minimum wage.  Passing that bill would give millions of mothers a chance to earn enough to actually sustain their families.  "Working" and "poor" should be mutually exclusive.

July 2, 2013: Why You Want a "Right to Request": One factor in the mismatch between the culture of the workplace and the daily lives of workers is an employee's fear of retaliation if s/he asks for a flexible work arrangement.  What if your boss gets the idea that you're not a valuable member of the team because you want to work from home 1 day a week, or come in early so you can leave early to get to the child care center?  A right to request law lets you ask about the possibility of a new arrangement, without exposing you to being fired, or demoted, or punished in any way.  The employer doesn't have to grant your request, just allow you to make it, consider it, and respond.  Other countries have these laws in place (in the UK it's called the "soft touch" law) and the US is starting to think about them too.  According to the Center for Law and Social Policy:

Last month, the state of Vermont passed the country’s first law that includes a provision giving workers the “right to request” a flexible work schedule.  And on the heels of Vermont’s exciting victory, earlier this month, San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu introduced a proposed ballot measure for rules that would give workers who are caregivers a “right to request” flex work. Such laws allow employees to file requests with their employers to telecommute, job share, work part time, or adjust their schedules – all options that can greatly reduce the burden parents and other caregivers face when trying to meet the demands of their jobs and care for their families.

If you knew you couldn't be fired, or passed over, or suffer any negative consequences for asking about a different kind of work arrangement, would you be more likely to ask for one?

July 2, 1013: Embracing the Future with Cokie and Steve Roberts: Now that we've reached the point that so many mothers do paid work and bring home a considerable portion of the household income, maybe it's time for a practical discussion about how fathers and the workplace will change too.  "Employers and workplaces must accommodate these "breadwinner moms" with more flexible schedules, telecommuting, paternity leaves and new measures of professional progress. Staying in the office every night till 10 just does not cut it anymore. And every smart employer knows that making reasonable concessions to these new family dynamics produces greater employee productivity, loyalty and retention."  Solid advice, coming from this dual career couple, married over 40 years with two adult children, in this recent online article.

June 20, 2013: Women, Economics, and the White House: Betsey Stevenson will soon take her seat on the President's Council of Economic Advisers.  She understands what happens to women's economic status when they become mothers.  She is one, as well as an economist and professor of public policy.  (That must be handy!)  As reported in Salon:

Stevenson spoke in D.C. on Wednesday at a New America Foundation forum devoted to issues affecting contemporary families, including single motherhood, new trends in divorce and if and how marriage equality will transform the institution of marriage. Since the president had announced his intent to appoint Stevenson to the three-person council just two days earlier, her insights about marriage, divorce and women in the labor force were particularly interesting: She’ll now be tasked with giving the president economic advice to inform domestic policy, meaning she’ll have an effect on the home lives of countless Americans.

Families could do with a champion, one who understands that parenting, employment, and family carework are all economic activities, and should be treated as such for purposes of our public policies.  Best of luck, Betsey!

June 20, 2013: Congress Jeopardizes Mothers' Health: The sequester is literally taking the food out of the mouths of American children, and putting the lives of mothers at risk.  So say the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, among others.  In this joint statement, they emphatically denounce budget cuts to discretionary spending proposed by the US House Appropriations Committee, and urge investment in maternal and infant health and well-being.  "The nearly 19 percent proposed cut in overall spending for the labor, health and education bill, coupled with the existing five percent cut already implemented for FY 2013, would devastate already fragile budgets for programs that support public health and prevention, life-saving research, childhood immunizations and maternal, infant and early childhood home visitation, among many others."  Of course, women and children don't make big donations to political campaigns - will Congress listen to health organizations speaking out on their behalf?

June 20, 2013: Pregnant Women Beware: NPR's Jennifer Ludden takes to the airwaves again on behalf of mothers and tells some tough stories about pregnant women unfairly treated at work.  Her report demonstrates the need for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, now floating around Capitol Hill, and includes a list of places you can contact for help.  Do you think allowing a pregnant worker a few minutes to sit down, a bathroom break, or a drink of water is too much to ask of employers? 

June 20, 2013: US House to Vote on Bill Banning Abortion After 20 Weeks: Called the "Pain Capable Child Protection Act", the bill is premised on the theory, still controversial, that a fetus is sensitive to pain at 22 weeks.  Originally containing only an exception to save the life of the mother, the bill now contains exceptions for rape or incest, but only if the rape or incest had been reported to the appropriate authorities prior to the abortion, according to ABC News.  The debate will be managed by Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, even though it was introduced by Rep. Frank of Arizona.  Rep. Frank attracted a lot of attention last week when he insisted the rape exception was unnecessary, since rape only very rarely resulted in pregnancy, as reported in Politico  The US Supreme Court has previously struck down similar bills, and this ban is all but certain to fall in the US Senate.  Nonetheless, the House leadership plans to take it to the floor for a vote this week.

June 6, 2013: Fathers on the Homefront: I was recently surrounded by fathers who constructed their lives to share care of their children equally with their wives.  Some had chosen work that could be tailored to their particular specifications, others had re-worked situations they were already in.  They spoke of a deep desire to enlarge the dad role beyond the  parameters allowed by the standard work week.  One said he was determined to know how to care for  his new baby as well as his wife did so he wouldn't be scared or intimidated when they were alone together.  They all reported high levels of personal satisfaction and happiness, and emphasized that our concept of "Dad as good provider" needed to expand beyond bringing home the bacon to their nurturing of and care for their children.  Wave of the future?  Maybe.  You could add a book on the subject to your Fathers' Day gift list -  The Modern Dad's Dilemma: How to Stay Connected With Your Kids in a Rapidly Changing World by John Badalament, or Dad or Alive: Confessions of an Unexpected Stay at Home Dad or Michael Chabon's Manhood for Amateurs.

June 6, 2013: Male Identity @ Work: The novelty of dads at home is a function of the fact that most men with children spend more time making money than making, say, mac 'n cheese.  Joan Williams, Director of the Center for WorkLife Law at UC Hastings, explains Why Men Work So Many Hours by our notions of manliness, moral stature and status.  What this does for women, paradoxically, is decrease the number of  hours they can work, and keep them from progressing into top jobs.  "Only 45.3 percent of mothers who graduated from top-tier institutions — and only 34.8 percent of MBAs — have full-time jobs. Most aren't full-time homemakers: in addition to parenting, they typically have part-time jobs or community service roles. But you can bet your boots it's under-valued work that rarely, if ever, leads to positions of power."  If women are to increase their public power, men will have to invest more of their time in family life.

June 6, 2013: If You Only Read One Thing On This Page, Make It This One: You may have heard about the new data showing mothers are the only or higher earner in 40% of all US households, up from 11% in 1960.  Brigid Schulte wrote about it in a particularly good piece for the Washington Post.  There are several reasons for the uptick - one is the increase in single mother households, where she is the only earner, and the earnings may or may not be enough.  Another is the massive migration of women into the paid labor force in recent decades, the fact that men's wages haven't gone up in years, and that women's superiority in earning advanced degrees can push their income beyond that of their husbands.  One might hope that our increased clout would speed up the arrival of paid sick days, paid family leave, and better child care as minimum labor standards in the US, but so far we have been willing to absorb this stress ourselves without changing our public policies.  But none of that is the REAL story.

June 6, 2013The REAL story is the absolute hysteria this report incited amongst those thoughtful men over at Fox News.  You just have to watch their He-Man Woman-Haters Club meeting in this clip - it is UNBELIEVABLE what these men say!  "Watching society dissolve around us" because employed women are supporting their families.  I have to admit, I wondered more than once if this was a joke and the dialogue scripted and staged, because what they say is so ridiculous, but their attitudes just so sincere, I conclude that they are serious.  (Now don't come after me for denigrating the value of family carework.  Of course it is the starting point of everything, and of course those who do it ought to have more influence and meaningful public and private support.  I just cannot allow to go unchallenged the premise that mothers in the paid work force will single-handedly bring about the very downfall of civilization.  I mean, really!)

June 6, 2013: A Book for Us -  MOTHERS UNITE!: Faithful readers of Your (Wo)Man in Washington blog have already heard about Dr. Jocelyn Crowley's new book, Mothers Unite!: Organizing for Workplace Flexibility and the Transformation of Family Life It features the NAMC and even drops the name of yours truly!  The book is now on sale, and if you are a card-carrying member of the NAMC (which of course you should be!!) you know where to go for your super-secret 30% off discount code.  Not convinced??  Read an excerpt of the book here, and then click over to this interview with the author.

May 23, 2013: Mothers Day Facts and Stats: According to the US Census Bureau, just over 4 million American women celebrated their first Mother's Day ever this month.   Mothers are getting older, with the average age now at 25.4 years, and most max out at 2 children.  The vast majority of new moms have a high school diploma, and almost a third have a bachelor's degree.  Almost 90% of children live with their biological mothers, and 62% of women who gave birth in the past year are already back at work.  (They must be exhausted.)  Five million women identify themselves as "stay at home", and 10 million moms are single parents in homes with children under 18.  That's three times more single mother households than in 1970.

May 23, 2013: Who Da Mom??  Who Da MOM??: Every woman needs help to deliver, and attended births have saved the lives of countless mothers.  But who is providing that help, and where, vary widely around the world.  "Birth Culture" is an 18 slide collection accompanying Life's Unequal Beginnings in the New York Times.  It's my Mother's Day gift to you.

May 23, 2013: Sheryl Sandberg Will Only Get You So Far: Sure, I lean in with the best of them, and I bet you do too.  At some point, we all want interesting work and productive, happy families, and that's plenty ambitious.  But let's be frank about the players in this goal of maternal status - it's not all up to us.  My friend and "MomAgenda" columnist at Women's Enews, Allison Stevens, notes that "Gender equality isn't an item for a working mom's long to-do list. It is the responsibility of society, and we as a populace must organize to demand it. Until then, tired mothers and caregivers shouldn't be pushed to work any harder."  Read her piece Until Motherhood Gets Easier, I'm Leaning Back

May 23, 2013: Dear Disney, Don't Mess with Merida: Mothers across the country were NOT pleased when Disney decided to re"vamp" Merida, the star of Disney's Brave into a saucy sexpot with a wasp waist, plunging neckline, and disarmed of the bow and quiver.  The whole point of Merida was to offer an alternative to the typical Pixar Princess who sang to animals, floated around in a virginal fog until she fulfilled her destiny by marrying a prince.  Social media saved the day, as an aggressive Change.org campaign persuaded Disney to change its mind.  Women in the World interviews Merida's creator here.

May 23, 2013: And While We're On the Subject...I See Famous Women: It's great when women engage on how they are portrayed by media, and even better when they can force a change, like the Disney decision above.  One mother turns her lens towards meaningful role models for her daughter and achieves stunning results.  Photographer Jaime Moore captures her daughter as Helen Keller, Coco Chanel, Amelia Earheart, and more.  (Like Merida, none of them married a prince either!)

May 9, 2013: Leaning In on Our Own Terms:Every paragraph of this article from The Atlantic was worthy of highlighting.  I can only pick one to put here, but I encourage you to read the whole piece - it's not long.  It puts the whole hot mess right out there.  Like so many of our discussions lately, it was prompted by Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In, which reports that 43% of highly qualified women with children leave the workforce for some period of time.  This makes the author reflect on her own situation in "Why 43 of Women with Children Leave Their Jobs, and How To Get Them Back". 

I was missing out on key moments in my daughter's life and I was an exhausted, nervous wreck. It would be an easy story to say that my consulting firm pushed me out—but it was the opposite. They tried hard to keep me. They let me work from home often and take time off for appointments. "Just get the job done," they said. That was the problem, though—getting the job done was all about giving everything to the job, and that wasn't sustainable for me once I had a child. I don't fault my firm at all. They are a scrappy service business that needs to consistently deliver high value to their clients by working better and harder. I was good at my job, which was why they were willing to accommodate me—but it was also why, after having my second child, I had to leave.

May 9, 2013We Didn't Get Into This Fix On Our Own!: I came across this feisty piece in an Australian publication, and it is worth reading precisely because it is not the "American" voice we are used to hearing on work/family issues.  I put it up on the always engaging Woman in Washington Facebook page (go find and "like" it right away!) but I think it is so important it certainly deserves inclusion here as well.  It's true, what author Clementine Ford says in Why 'Can You Have It All' Is This Century's Dumbest Question - as long as we don't inconvenience other people or ask change of their behavior, we can be as feminist as we want.  Trouble is, gender equality DOES require change, of everyone - and thinking that we can get over systemic discrimination just by working hard all on our own is a fallacy.

Under our current model of supposedly post-feminist society, can women have it all? No. Why not? Because a) we're not living in a post-feminist society and the systems of patriarchal oppression that have historically exploited women as resources are still very much in operation across much of the world; and b) the matter of women's liberation is still thought to be a concern for them alone, with the demands that any efforts to secure it be done not just independently of men but with the absence of impact on them entirely. The question therefore isn't 'can women have it all?' but 'how are women systemically denied equality and who's benefiting?' Gender inequality wasn't created by women and their unreasonable ambitions. It's vital that we shift the focus of women's oppression back to its beneficiaries rather than perpetuate the kinds of meaningless conversations that imagine these things are perplexing problems for women alone to solve.

May 9, 2013: Results Guaranteed - You Can Be An Expert On Work/Family Policy: I was blown away by this briefing about "national family policy" (or in my words a total LACK of societal support for parents generally and mothers in particular) because of its star power.  Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (mother of three), writer Judith Warner, and former White House senior staffer to Michelle Obama, Jocelyn Frye, contributed tremendous insight into this just-over-an-hour gathering.  You will have a better understanding of the difficulties women and mothers face in the USA, and what it will take to improve them, if you can carve out 60 minutes to listen to this and turn yourself into a true policy expert.  I guar-an-tee it, or your money back!

May 9 , 2013: Name It.  Change It.:Those savvy women at the Center for American Progress are taking no prisoners - there was very frank talk recently about politics and sexism, and how female candidates are subjected to a different kind of scrutiny than their male counterparts.  Talking about a woman's looks, good or bad, discredits her in the public sphere as a serious candidate and decreases her chances of a successful campaign.  You will be shocked at what really goes on,  because it goes mostly unreported by mainstream media.  You can click through on this link and watch a video of the event - I thought the best bits were the remarks by Sam Bennett of She Should Run, and Congresswoman Marcia Fudge of Ohio, who said, among other things, she has faced more barriers because she is a woman than because she is black.

April 25, 2013: Every Working Mother's Nightmare: Pop quiz - How do we care for the number one national treasure this country has, our children?  Surely we have made certain that each and every child has a safe environment geared to his or her development, utilzing the latest research with nurturing, qualified staff.  Wrong!  According to The Hell of American Daycare, "We're not thinking about, 'Wow, we have this need out there. We need trained professionals to help fill it,' " he says. "We're thinking, 'Oh yeah, someone's got to watch the kids. Let's pay 'em like baby sitters."  If we had accessible, first-rate and affordable day care, would some of the controversy surrounding working mothers fade?  Would moms feel less guilty?  Read the article, or listen to the NPR interview.

April 25, 2013: Leaning In Goes On and On and On: My interest in this whole "having it all" discussion is waning, and I'm more motivated than most to be paying attention.  Here's a subvervsive view of the whole issue from a feisty Australian at DailyLife.com

Under our current model of supposedly post-feminist society, can women have it all? No. Why not? Because a) we're not living in a post-feminist society and the systems of patriarchal oppression that have historically exploited women as resources are still very much in operation across much of the world; and b) the matter of women's liberation is still thought to be a concern for them alone, with the demands that any efforts to secure it be done not just independently of men but with the absence of impact on them entirely. The question therefore isn't 'can women have it all?' but 'how are women systemically denied equality and who's benefiting?' Gender inequality wasn't created by women and their unreasonable ambitions. It's vital that we shift the focus of women's oppression back to its beneficiaries rather than perpetuate the kinds of meaningless conversations that imagine these things are perplexing problems for women alone to solve.

Them's fighting words!  You can hear Sheryl Sandberg make her case - again - in this 14 minute radio interview from the BBC.

April 25, 2013: You Talkin' To Me?: "When you tally who hold the positions of power, it becomes clear that women mostly don't. According to the Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics, women hold 18.1 percent of the 535 seats in Congress. Only 17.4 percent of mayors of cities with populations over 30,000 are female, and just three of the nine Supreme Court justices are female. More women than ever ran for Congress in 2012, but we're nowhere near parity. So what's causing the gap?"  You'll find the answers right here in this HuffPo piece   So for cryin' out loud, run already, will ya?

April 25, 2013: Three_Minute_Interview_with_Christi_CorbettChristi Corbett is a senior researcher at the American Association of University Women (AAUW) where she researches issues of gender equity in education and the workplace. She recently co-authored AAUW's latest research report, Graduating to a Pay Gap: The earnings of women and men one year after college graduation, which revealed how women earned less than men only a year after graduation, with identical degrees, majors, and experience. Before coming to AAUW, Christi was an aerospace engineer. She lives in the Washington DC area with her husband and two pre-school age sons, and is a very smart cookie.

April 11, 2013: Raising Daughters in a Sexist World: This just in from the American Psychological Association: Sexualization of Girls explains how sexism is conveyed through media, how it affects our daughters, and what we can do to counter it.  All children must understand that the images of women they see in TV, movies, and advertising do not accurately portray the variety of female experience.  As mothers, we can initiate conversations and call attention to the misleading and damaging representations of girls and women in the media.

In study after study, findings have indicated that women more often than men are portrayed in a sexual manner (e.g., dressed in revealing clothing, with bodily postures or facial expressions that imply sexual readiness) and are objectified (e.g., used as a decorative objects, or as body parts rather than a whole person). In addition, a narrow (and unrealistic) standard of physical beauty is heavily emphasized. These are the models of femininity presented for young girls to study and emulate.

April 11, 2013: Can Contraception Make A Stronger Society?: Did you know it used to be illegal to even distribute information about contraception, let alone actually sell contraceptives?  Looking back over the 50 years since women could control the number and frequency of their pregnancies, experts at the Brookings Institution note that household incomes have risen as unwanted pregnancy and poverty have decreased.  It's a good time to get a handle on the social effects of women exercising power over their motherhood.  Access to contraception remains an issue in the implementation of the new health care law, and on the obligations of employers when they are also religious institutions.

April 11, 2013: Opt-out, Pushed-out, Kept-out: Mothering, or the unpaid domestic labor women do at home, has serious societal and economic value.  Women's paid employment has serious societal and economic value.  The same is true for men.  But we do such a crummy job of combining these two absolutely necessary functions. Part of the reason lies in the fact that no two women have exactly the same story, but all of them are complicated and may be constantly evolving. From Nanette Fondas' very readable piece in The Atlantic:

 While about one in three moms opts out of the labor force, we don't know how many of them are pushed out by long hours and inflexible workplaces. We know even less about the factors that keep them out, including unavailable and unwilling dads, as well as things like children's behavior and needs. This helps explain why the opt-out story never quite ends.

April 11, 2013: Leaning In with Sheryl Sandberg and NPR: Michel Martin of "Tell Me More" hosted a panel discussion on the philosophy of the ubiquitous Ms. Sandberg and her exhortation to women to try harder at work.  Reminds me all over again that no matter what we need, we certainly also needs a broader definition of success, separate and apart from the monetary compensation you receive.  You can listen or read the transcript here.

 March 28, 2013: Women at War: Sexual Assault in the MilitaryA Senate hearing put the emotional testimony of survivors of sexual assault in the military on the record, and the handling of such claims by the authorities came in for some harsh criticism by some US Senators, particularly Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.  Here's a bit of the national news coverage, and a 4 minute video of Senator Gillibrand at work.  Now that nearly 20% of our armed forces are female, and that women are serving on the Armed Services committees in Congress, finally the subject is getting the attention it deserves.  The issue was catapulted onto the media radar by the documentaryThe Invisible War See if it's playing at a theater near you. 

March 28, 2013: Moms Organize Around Gun Control Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense In America (formerly One Million Moms for Gun Control) organized a day for its members and supporters to visit legislators at the US Capitol on March 13 to talk about gun control.  They report over 200 mothers participated and persuaded lawmakers to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines, require background checks for gun purchase, among other measures.  A Senate committee has approved an assault weapons ban sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, but the bill faced great opposition.  The assault weapons ban portion was dropped a few days later, for fear that its inclusion would doom the success of the rest of the bill.  Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, and a self-described "typical mom in the grocery store", gave a radio interiview about her new role as an unanticipated grassroots mother/activitist. 

March 28, 2013: Can a Budget Be Gender Neutral?: In the battle of the budgets, Senator Paul Ryan put forward a proposal which, among other things, makes federal food assistance (SNAP) and health care for the poor  (MEDICAID) into block grants and repeals the President's health care reform law.  Do you think women might suffer more from cuts, given that they are the majority of Medicaid and SNAP recipients, and protected from being charged higher health care premiums under Obamacare?  Block grants take federal money and hand it to the states, to dispose of as they wish.  Each state, then, can impose its own eligibility requirements and change the benefits.  When the federal government administers these programs, they provide more  help for more people.  Bryce Covert in The Nation outlines "What Paul Ryan's Budget Means for Women".

March 28, 2013:  Paid Sick Days: Who has paid sick days?  Seattle.   San Francisco.  Washington DC.  Connecticut.  Portland, Oregon may soon join that list.
  The City Council unanimously approved an ordinance that would allow workers to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours of paid sick time per year, if their employer has at least six employees.  Our friends at Family Forward Oregon were major players in the effort, which got heavy push back from small business and pro-business advocates.  Paid sick days were not quite as successful in Philadelphia.  The City Council passed the bill, on a vote of 11 to 6, but the Mayor is expected to veto it, as he did a similar bill two years ago.  It would require 12 votes to override that veto.  The paid sick days movement is building in Maryland, but no vote in the state house yet.  

March 14, 2013:MOTHERS AT THE BAR: No, not that bar, silly.  The one in the courtroom, as in, women lawyers with children.  Law schools have been graduating women at the same rate as men for decades, yet there are far fewer female partners.  Why?  Motherhood, of course.  A legal career, especially a trial practice, is very hard to juggle with the demands of family.  Moms run from the law in droves, with significant consequences on every front.   But what happens to that expensive law degree, and valuable years of practice, once you've raised your children?  Some law schools now offer short courses to help these mothers work their way back into the firm (From Stay-at-Home Mom to Back To Work Lawyers, NYT).  One entrepreneur put together staffing groups largely of lawyer mothers who work from home on an hourly basis - at $125 per hour!  (Home Is Right Where the Potomac Law Group Wants Its Lawyers To Be, Washington Post).  Attorneys are unusually thick on the ground in Washington DC.  I know lawyer moms here in a freelance network, Montage Legal Group, all highly qualified former big firm attorneys who take on substantive legal projects from law firms in need of staffing help.  It's one option to manage your career and your family - but mothers ought to have more.  

March 14, 2013: THE SEQUESTER MAKES BABIES GO HUNGRY  -- #POLICYFAIL: The problem with taking a chain saw to the federal budget, which is what the sequester does as it cuts all federal programs no matter what they do, is that some essential programs which matter tremendously both now and in the future get whacked.  Case in point - low income women and children who depend on public funds for their basic nutrition will go hungry.  "Some 575,000 to 750,000 low-income women and children, including very young children, who are eligible for WIC — the highly effective nutrition program that serves roughly 9 million low-income women and children — will be turned away by the end of the fiscal year if the budget cuts known as “sequestration” which took effect as scheduled on March 1 remain in place." So says the Center for Budget and Policy Priorites in their excellent paper about the impact of the sequester.  Anybody care to guess how much more it will cost to deal with the negative impact on their health, development, education, and quality of life both now as children, and in the future when they are adults?  You think we won't be paying that?

March 14, 2013: THE PRESIDENT'S PRE-K PROPOSAL - HOW IT HELPS MOTHERS: Many thanks to Bryce Covert over at The Nation magazine for this this short and snappy chart on how universal pre-school would help the economic security of mothers.  (She must subscribe to this enews - it's like she can read my mind!!)  There's been lots of attention paid to how much children would gain from this proposal.  But how it impacts mothers?  Not so much - "Mostly missing from that conversation, though, was the other half of the equation: working parents, specifically mothers, given that women still spend the most time caring for children. The benefits for children seem pretty clear, but we have to add in the benefits that women will see if they have a quality and affordable place to send their kids every day when they head to work."  Hear, hear.

March 14, 2013: GENDER MATTERS....IN FEDERAL MINIMUM WAGE POLICY: It makes a difference when you're female whether or not a new bill to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour is passed by the US Congress and becomes law.  Why?  First, two-thirds of workers earning minimum wage (or less!!) are women.  Second, women are the majority in the 10 largest occupations that currently pay less on average than $10.10 per hour now.  Third, women's wages make up a significant portion of household income - families simply cannot make it without them.  Thanks to National Women's Law Center for the data!)  So, write, call, or email your member of Congress, and tell them to pass the minimum wage bill, now, please.

March 14, 2013: LAND OF THE FREE, HOME OF THE ... STRESSED??: From NPR's Tell Me More, Michel Martin did a great essay this week on the US's pathetic record on work-family policies and the resulting unhappiness of parents.  "In contrast with not one, not two, but nearly 200 other countries studied by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, the U.S. is the only one that offers no paid leave to have a baby and few protections for employment after children come home. And that — speaking of the happiness part — is a key reason why Coontz says that American workers express higher levels of work-family conflict than in any of this country's European counterparts."  It's here, and a short read or a quick listen, at 4 minutes of audio.

February 28, 2013: Do You Use the F-Word?: We don't mother in a vacuum, and you can't separate motherhood from gender.  No matter how many decades roll by, feminism can still fire people up, raise eyebrows, sometimes curl lips into a sneer, and make headlines.  Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique is having a golden anniversary, and old issues are surfacing again.  Do women have equality yet?  Is feminism necessary?  Are feminists outdated, unattractive, and angry? Whatever it once was, feminism has changed over time as well, opening an avenue for shared parenting, more at home dads, and widening the scope for men as well as women.  How has it affected your life, and what role will it play in your daughters'?  Here's a smattering of what's been floating around - from Jessica Valenti in The Nation, On The Anger of Betty Freidan; Huffington Post's Choice and the Feminine Mystique Fifty Years Later; NPR's On Point The Feminine Mystique at 50.

February 28, 2013: Our Cause Is Just, and Our Fight Goes On and On .....and on and on and on....: We've established that mothers can be politicians, professors, truck drivers and engineers.  Do we still have to fight for some yet-to-be-won rights? 

A number of international conventions include provisions ensuring gender equality and providing protections for workers with family caregiving responsibilities. The United States seeks to exert global and moral leadership as an exemplar of human rights. Yet its neglect of the needs of its own workers with family responsibilities, including its failure to ensure paid sick and paid family leave, is counter to these widely accepted human rights norms.       

These are the words of Risa Kaufmann, a sister in arms and co-founder of A Better Balance: The Work and Family Legal Center, and executive director of the Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute from her recently published letter in The New York Times.  The paper also ran a great piece on paid family leave featuring an interview with Vicki Shabo of The National Partnership for Women & Families.  Maybe some well-placed righteous anger would be just the thing....

February 28, 2013: Sheryl Sandberg - "I Choose Both!": The Big Three are constantly in print these days about women, children and work.  Anne-Marie Slaughter's name will forever call to mind "having it all".  Yahoo CEO Marissa "the new baby is really no big deal" Mayer has sure made her mark.  Now Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg, she of the famous TEDTalk, is about to release Lean In, which purports to tell us why our progress in being mothers AND leaders has been so slow.  From a book review in The Atlantic:

Sandberg's proposition, though, looks a lot more like most women's lives than the "either/or" model into which women's lives get shoved. Many women navigate the "ands" every day, juggling a work life and a family life whose demands have meshed into one another in our constantly connected, 24/7-everything world. They don't have the luxury of choosing one or the other because they are too busy doing both.

It's a reasonable argument, that women are so busy caring for children and giving it up at work that they have no time or energy to press for their own political interests and push for the changes that could seriously improve their lives.  If Sheryl, Marissa and Anne-Marie are in a position to throw their weight around, more power to 'em. 

February 14, 2013: Child Care - We Don't Work Without It:There are a million ways to mother, and no one "right" way.  A family ought to have options.  At the moment, there aren't as many as there should be.  Mothers are either primary breadwinners or co-breadwinners in 2/3 of American households.  Women spend more than double the time that men do providing care for children.  We make up half the paid workforce, yet are much more likely to experience poverty.  We work and raise children without a national paid family leave policy, which becomes increasingly necessary as you move lower on the income scale.  What policy shift could really make children's lives better, promote women's economic security, and deliver some measure of stability to millions of households across the country?  A stronger early education and child care system, as outlined here by the Center for American Progress in Investing In Our Children: A Plan to Expand Access to PreSchool and Child Care.

February 14, 2013: Women's Status Around the World - Will John Kerry Do As Much?: Hillary Clinton kept the interests of women front and center during her time as Secretary of State.  She knew that pressing for women's empowerment around the world was the right thing to do, but also the best and most direct route to democracy, peace, and economic progress.  Now she's gone, and how much of that part of the agenda go with her?  Will John Kerry demonstrate the same passionate commitment?  If he doesn't, will all be lost?  Columnist Ruth Marcus shares my concerns in a recent Washington Post column.

February 14, 2013: FMLA Is 20 Years Old - And Businesses Didn't Go Bankrupt!: When 12 weeks of unpaid leave became available for about half the private sector workforce two decades ago, opponents argued it would just kill American business.  Well, that never happened.  Now, people all over are clamoring for improvements on the law, like making more workers eligible and having some portion of the leave include partial income replacement.  From Jodie Levin-Epstein of CLASP in the Huffington Post:

The clear majority of voters in both parties want Congress and the president to consider new laws such as family and medical leave insurance. A recent bipartisan poll found that 96 percent of Democrats and fully 72 percent of Republicans take this view. And, for those politicians/policymakers who want to close the Hispanic voter gap, it is notable that nearly 80 percent of Latinos consider congressional and presidential action on FMLA to be "very important."

An expanded FMLA could be both good policy and good politics - real opportunity for some bipartisan law-making.

February 14, 2013: Our Lack of Paid Leave Makes the US Less Competitive: In 1990, the United States offered no mandated parental leave time, compared with a non-U.S. average of 37.2 weeks. By 2010, the United States was offering 12 weeks’ leave, but the non-U.S. average had leaped to 57.3 weeks. Neither in 1990 nor today did the United States provide public paid leave, while other countries paid, on average, 26.5 percent of previous wages in 1990 and 38 percent today. Blau and Kahn found that about 28 percent to 29 percent of the decline in the American female labor force participation can be explained by the relative stinginess of its family leave and part-time work policies.

So reported Wonkblog last month, sifting data on women's workforce participation worldwide.  Other countries around the world are implementing and expanding policies to keep quality workers connected to the workforce.  Drawing on all the brainpower available, their economies are well-placed for global competition.  More countries are increasing the amount of time off they allow, and increasing the percentage of income replacement they pay.  Without paid leave in the US, only some mothers will be able to stay employed and generate some income when they birth or adopt a child.  Many mothers just give up and abandon paid work, and then find it very difficult to return when the kids are in school, or family needs have shifted, or they are compelled to resume paid work.  The US’s "either/or" approach to motherhood and work doesn't serve us well on any level, individual, family, or as a nation.  Who comes to the game with only half the team?

January 31, 2013:Pick up a copy of What Do Mothers Need?, a collection of essays by experts and scholars on how motherhood is changed and how our world needs to change as a result.  We're proud to boast that one submission in the book is by our very own Lorri Slepian, NAMC Board Member and a most esteemed "founding mother" of Mothers’ Centers and NAMC's public policy advocacy initiative.  Editor Andrea O'Reilly points out that mothers have been neglected by feminists, overlooked by the recent Occupy movement, and having a harder time now that even a few decades ago.  “If mother activists and scholars agree on anything, it is that a mother-centered feminism is urgently needed and long overdue because mothers, arguably more so than women in general, remain disempowered despite 40 years of feminism.”  Give yourself a copy for Valentine's Day!

January 31, 2013: Moms Hold the Purse Strings: Who pays the bills and manages the money in your house?  According to a recent Working Mother magazine survey, almost two-thirds of responding moms claimed the title of chief financial officer, and another third claims to share the responsibility with their partner.  Women have long held a huge amount of purchasing power and were frequently targeted by advertisers.  But now they are more likely to be in charge of the long term saving and planning as well.  They also overwhelmingly want to teach their children about saving, investing, value-shopping, and sticking to a budget.  As the article says, "You run the money, honey!"

January 31, 2013: Nancy Folbre on Sharers, Takers, Carers, Makers: This, my friends, is the source of a great deal of the injustice we face today, as brilliantly set forth by Nancy Folbre in her recent New York Times column

When John Locke laid the conceptual foundations of liberal democracy in the 17th century, he contended that a system that guaranteed men rights over the product of their own labor (including wild apples picked from a tree) would always prevail over a system based on arbitrary authority, like feudal dues or taxation without representation.

He excluded women from his theory, assuming that childbearing and family care were not forms of labor, but like apples, gifts of nature (until picked by men). Classical political economy, from Adam Smith to Karl Marx, presumed that women’s domestic labor was “unproductive” even if it was performed by paid servants.

If only John Locke had given birth, raised infants to adulthood, and run a household himself, how different his perspective would have been.

January 31, 2013: Mr. Mom is Dead.  Really?: In spite of a flurry of articles about the new fatherhood, I don't believe at-home Dads are sweeping the nation anymore than I believe women will be out-earning them across the board in a few years time, as has also been breathlessly reported recently.  Still, the more pictures and stories there are about full-time parenting fathers, the higher the societal value placed on carework will go.  Here's a couple - from the HuffPo Parents Blog, from the Wall Street Journal about parenting as "a guy thing", and how it's not babysiting, but parenting when a Dad cares for his own kids, in The Atlantic.  How do you think dads parenting publicly will change ideas about the value of family carework?  Will women benefit?  Please let me know at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .  Thanks!

January 17, 2013: Invisible and Uncounted: You probably know that the central factor of economic productivity, GDP, does not include what we spend a lot of time doing - raising children, running households, and looking after family members that have trouble managing it all themselves.  This invisible work, amazingly, isn't tracked around the world even when it is done for pay.  NPR recently reported that the UN is trying to collect data about "domestic workers", those who look after children, clean houses, or care for the elderly.  Current estimates indicate that 53 million do this work worldwide, primarily women, and probably half do so without any legal rights or a single worker protection.  The number of paid domestic workers has exploded since the mid -1990's, in reaction to the number of women leaving home for work, and aging populations, like our boomer generation.  Nonetheless, without the support of regulations setting a fair wage or reasonable working hours, abuse and exploitation abound.  Policy making can't occur, though, until reliable, complete data is gathered, and most nations just don't keep track.  What is about "traditional women's work", which produces and maintains people, the most basic building block of every society, that renders it so unworthy of attention?

January 17, 2013: What's Between You and the Glass Ceiling?: "Well, there's one word: children. What happens is that women work fewer hours than men. They take off more time for maternity leave. They tend to also work - they're far more likely to work part-time than men are. And according to surveys, they seem to want it that way, though we have to always make the caveat that yes, there is discrimination. But the major factor in the gap – both the gender gap, wage gap and the gap at the very top, the gap among the alpha females - is due to children." From NPR's All Things Considered, about women's failure to reach the top of the professional world.

January 17, 2013: Paid Leave for New Parents - Anywhere But Here: From Lisa Belkin in the Huffington Post:

As Zach Rosenberg has been highlighting on 8BitDad, companies aren't required to offer paternity leave here. That is hardly surprising because while other countries are expanding their policies to include Dads, we are essentially the last place on the planet that hasn't even embraced the narrower idea of leave for mothers. There are only three countries like this -- Papua New Guinea, Swaziland... and the one that prides itself on being the leader of the world.

I don't know what else to say about this one....best just to move on! 

January 17, 2013: Know The Facts about Abortion: Pregnancy termination remains a flashpoint in the US, 40 years since the Roe v. Wade decision.  Here are some updated facts from the Guttmacher Institute about women who have abortions.  They are mostly white and in their 20's, and from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.  The majority have at least one child already, and were or are married or living with a partner.  About half of all pregnancies in the US are unintended, and of these, about half are terminated.  More than three-fourths of abortions occur in the first trimester.

January 17, 2013: What CAN'T a Pregnant Woman Do?: I sat down, I napped, I may occasionally have gone for a walk when I was pregnant.  Look at these mothers-to-be - some of us will run marathons, sing an aria, or dance a pas de deux.  You go, girl!  I'm cheering for you right from my seat here on the sofa. From The Washington Post:  "So expectant mothers adapt. They perform with precision, even as their instruments change. Dancers mourn the loss of muscle tone as it melts away like a Dali scene. Opera singers revel in the surge of hormones that give their voices richer, fuller timbre. Cellists lay their instruments on their bellies and hope the baby doesn’t kick when the timpanist strikes."  Occupational hazards for the pregnant woman! 

January 3, 2013: Look Into My Crystal Ball:The Huffington Post lists 13 parenting trends you can expect to see in 2013.  Check it out - you'll see pictures of Princess Kate, Jessica Simpson, Alicia Silverstone, and breastfeeding in public!  Not the customary content of the NAMC Advocacy eNews, but hey, it's the holidays!

January 3, 2013: Full-time Parent, Part-time Worker: We know that having children is likely to makes a woman economically vulnerable.  But what's really amazing is the number of different ways that motherhood contributes to economic insecurity.  Under the spotlight this week - gender differences in part-time work, brought to you by the Center for Economic Policy Research  (CEPR).  In the US, part time work is not simply the younger sibling of full-time work with the same rules, conditions and compensations of full-time work to a proportionately smaller degree.  It's in an entirely different league - for starters, the pay rate per hour is often significantly lower, even in the same jobs.  It rarely comes with benefits like access to the employer's group health plan, or retirement savings plan.  Also, federal legislation like the Fair Labor Standards Act which protects employees simply doesn't apply to part-time workers.

Can you guess who makes up the majority of part-time workers in the US?  Women!  Could it be that their economic needs are so well satisfied by their partners or others that they simply don't need to work full time?  No.  Twice as many women as men are in the part time labor force because of non-economic reasons.  From the CEPR blog:

Women "choose" part-time jobs primarily because they are more compatible with their outsized unpaid work responsibilities including household work and childcare. When asked why they work part time, women answer “Child care problems” at more than seven times the rate that men do, and are almost four times more likely than men to cite “Other family/personal obligations.” In fact, of the people who usually work part-time and answered “Child care problems” as their reason why, 94.6 percent were women.

Connecting the dots - mothers trudge along, in a workplace tailored to non-mothers, hampered by inadequate and costly child care, taking part-time work as a consequence, with all its short-comings.  If the work of coordinating family life and raising children was regarded as more worthwhile, men would do more of it, public supports would exist to promote it (such as accessible quality child care, paid family leave), and it wouldn't predispose those who do it to poverty.

January 3, 2013: Single Mother Myths: A lot of people who act like they know what they are talking about will tell you that poverty and crime are the result of too many unmarried women having kids.  They are wrong.  The facts of single motherhood are vastly different from the characterizations that (mostly male, mostly white) politicians and pundits sling around.  Based on data from a recent Legal Momentum survey, Greg Kaufmann writes in The Nation single mothers in the US are mostly separated, divorced or widowed.  In other words, the vast majority were married.  In addition, in spite of the fact that they spend more hours at work than single mothers in other countries, US single mothers have much higher rates of poverty than those in other industrialized countries.  The reason?  A great deal of employment is for very low wages, and public income supports are too low.  Not to mention our status as the only advanced economy with no paid family or sick leave.  Welfare queens?  Not so much.

January 3, 2013: The Price of Motherhood Around the World: Get out  your passports - we're taking a whirlwind trip to compare the motherhood penalty around the globe.  There's no country where a woman can escape it entirely, but there is quite a range between the best and worst.  What accounts for the difference?  Access to high quality and affordable child-care, mostly.  From The New York Times Economix Blog:

The United States is about on trend with developed countries over all: in the United States, the median childless, full-time-working woman of reproductive age earns 7 percent less than the median male full-time worker. For women with children, the wage gap more than triples, to 23 percent. That gap in Japan is even bigger — the median Japanese mother working full time earns 61 percent less than the median Japanese full-time male worker.

Note that the 23% gap is between full time working men and women.  The post goes on to state that the gap for mothers over all is actually much greater, because about a quarter of them work only part-time.  Countries with fabulous early education and child care systems have the smallest gap in income between mothers and non-mothers.  Of course, the US doesn't fall into that category.

December 20, 2012: Will You Pay For Being Pregnant?:The mommy tax has been around for a long time.  But did you know that just being pregnant at work may cause others to think you are less competent, less committed, and more irrational? Research shows that appearing pregnant may cost you the job interview, a higher salary if you're being hired, and promotions  once employed.  Certain perceptions about pregnant women are so subtle, and so ingrained, that they may not be recognized as discriminatory even by women!  Read this article from The Atlantic, The Pregnancy Penalty:  How Working Women Pay for Having Kids.

December 20, 2012: What Capitalism Does to Families:"Unfortunately, we have socialized the benefits of child-rearing more thoroughly than we have socialized the costs, taxing the working-age population to provide benefits to the elderly through Social Security and Medicare but providing uneven and somewhat unpredictable public support to parents. Single mothers in particular remain far more susceptible to poverty in the United States than in similarly affluent countries."  The brilliant Nancy Folbre on the economics of childrearing - or how the sinking birth rate reflects capitalism's privatizing the risks of motherhood while turning all the benefits of children over to the economy.  From the Economix Blog in The New York Times.

December 20, 2012: Please, Sir, I Want Some ... More?: It's not enough to be smarter, better educated, and better trained.  Simply being more qualified isn't enough to ensure that you are being paid as much as the guy in the next cubicle.  You can work your little heart out and wait to be noticed, but that doesn't mean you'll get pay equity.  “I can’t tell you how many times I hear stories of women who go into a negotiation saying, ‘Oh my gosh, thank you so much, I’ll take it!’” says Ms. Houle, noting that one student she coached even hugged her boss. “Here these women are, more educated than ever, incurring incredible debt to get that education, and they’re going to take whatever they’re offered. It’s like, ‘No, no, no!’ “/* New York Times.

December 20, 2012: I Am Mother! Hear Me...Online?: Here's a snippet of Joanne Bamberger from Women's Enews:  "Fortunately, more and more women, especially mothers, have started using their existing online spaces--the so-called "mom blogs"--and the confidence they've gained through the influence they have earned in those spaces, to flex their political muscles. Increasing numbers of mothers online are embracing the newfound courage that's developed from writing about their lives and families to speak out for causes, social issues and candidates they believe in, moving from writing about their beliefs at personal blogs to creating their own online political communities and joining established networks that already reach millions of readers."  Just like this enews, the NAMC blogs, including Your (Wo)Man in Washington, and our Facebook pages - activist moms online rock!


December 20, 2012: Three Minute_Interviw_With_Dee Dee_Myer:

December 06, 2012:  Why Do We Need Paid Family Leave NOW?: There are lots of reasons that working people in the US should have access to family leave when they need it.  Here are 4 to remember: 

  • The paid labor force is now 49% female, and women still do most of the family carework - but the economy cannot function if we don't show up at work.
  • Women in 2/3 of households earn as much or more than their spouses, or are single mothers.
  • Four out of five children have no full time caregiving parent at home.
  • The US has the only advanced economy without a national program guaranteeing some form of paid leave to workers -it's not rocket science if every other country has come up with a plan.

Two experts at the Center for American Progress, Sarah Jane Glynn and Heather Boushey, are proposing that a paid family insurance program could easily be created on the existing framework of the Social Security System.  You can read their proposal for Social Security Cares right here.

December 6, 2012: Why Are So Many Single Parent Families Poor?  No Mystery Here!: Karen Kornbluh has been an advocate for mothers and work/family policies from way back.  She points out that 25% of all children live in single parent homes in the US, an unusually high number among industrial nations.  We also rank as the country with the 3rd highest rate of single parent family poverty.  The reason?  In The Atlantic, Ms. Kornbluh lays the blame squarely on public policy failure - no reliable maternity leave, no paid sick leave, no affordable, high quality child care system.  "Our lack of quality childcare and after-school programs puts these kids at risk and endangers the nation's future in a knowledge economy. Our lack of support for flexible work arrangements and Social Security credits for caregivers puts these parents at risk."  Unpaid family caregiving, the economy, and public policy are all related.  But the US continues to act as if that is not so.

December 6, 2012: Motherhood and Murder Rates: It's true, many well-intentioned advocates argue that if mothers would only get and stay married, poverty, violence, incarceration rates, and most other social ills would decline.  I say enough already!  Mothers are blamed for way too much, especially considering the barriers and inequities they face, compared to fathers or non-parents.  And now, happily, there is some data to back me up.

Blaming single parents for violence has long been a dog whistle talking point of the family values set, since the phrase "single parents" actually means "single mothers," and "single mothers" means "poor women." But now, it seems that some new data from Washington, DC is challenging that long-held assertion that the out of control vaginas of the 47% are leading to big, slutty crime rates — over the last 20 years, the murder rate in the District has dropped 75%, while the percentage of single mothers has remained steady. Sorry you got blamed for all that murder, poor ladies.

Those bad girls at Jezebel point to a Philip Cohen essay, Single Moms Can't Be Scapegoated for the Murder Rate Anymore.

December 6, 2012: Gender Matters In Everything - Including Violence: Not that we need another reason to speak out against domestic violence - in addition to its physical and emotional toll, it has a huge cost in economic terms as shown in recent research.  About.com US Government Info reports: "The health-related costs of rape, physical assault, stalking, and homicide against women by their intimate partners exceeds $5.8 billion annually, according to a report just released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)."  Instead of being a shameful, private secret, intimate partner violence is now seen as a public health issue which public policy can effectively address. "CDC is actively involved in ongoing efforts to prevent violence against women," said Sue Binder, M.D., CDC Injury Center Director. "This report provides information that is crucial in helping communities demonstrate the impact violence against women has on society."

November 19, 2012: Why Are Women Worth Less?: Women earn less than men, and this is one reason our poverty rate is much higher.  Many commentators explain the gender pay gap by pointing to women's "choices" of jobs in lower-paying fields, less-demanding work, part-time work, or work that allows them to fulfill domestic and/or child care obligations.  There is no more discrimination at work, they say, and if women worked as long and as hard as men, they'd make just the same.  My friends at the American Association of University Women have tested this theory and found it false by comparing men's and women's earnings at the beginning of their working lives, before children and "lifestyle choices" have an impact.  Their conclusion? Discrimination against women in the workplace continues.  You can read a summary on the National Women's Law Center blog and view the video of the CNN report.

November 19, 2012: Paid Family Leave - We're Already Paying For Not Having Itparenting: You know it's gonna happen - people get sick, people get old, people have children.  It's happening now, and it increases costs, even though family leave insurance is not the official policy.  Cali Williams Yost writes a very persuasive essay in Forbes.  An excerpt:


In the U.S., we pride ourselves on our capitalistic, profit-oriented savvy; therefore, given the growing magnitude of employee caregiving realities, you would assume that employers would support a clear, consistent uniform strategic response. One that minimized business disruption and kept employees engaged and productive over the long-term. Unfortunately, the reality is the exact opposite.


Far from being a tax, job-killing or anti-business, paid family leave boosts the bottom line.  It doesn't make sense not to have it.

November 19, 2012: Three Minute Interview with Jessica DeGroot, Founder and President of ThirdPath Institute


We've all said from time to time, "There's got to be a better way!" Between work and home and everything else, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and totally stressed by the expectations we place on ourselves and the unrealistic demands of modern life. Jessica DeGroot believes she has a better way, the so-called "third path" that puts family and personal time on a more integrated footing with work. We chatted via email, and this is what she had to say: 


1. ThirdPath's motto is "Creating Time for Life". How can that be done?

Instead of adding care giving responsibilities to a job that is already demanding too much of you, ThirdPath helps care givers look for "win-win" flexibility so they can succeed in both work and the important job of care giving. We also encourage care givers to create a partnership at home. When mothers and fathers (or extended family) share in the joys and responsibilities of providing care it creates stronger families and more support for care givers. Lastly, another critical ingredient to success is learning how to say no - both at work and at home; Read more.

November 19, 2012: 
Men - The Other Side of Work/Family Fit

family of colorMen and women rarely fall neatly into entirely separate domains.  For better and for worse, we will succeed and fail together.  An increase in women's engagement and leadership requires teaching both our sons and our daughters about the exercise of power in the world they will inherit.  From the Harvard Business Review's blog:


Contrary to more recent provocative media coverage, the changing roles of women at work and men at home do not signal the rise of the former at the expense of the latter. The trends are far more nuanced. The couples in these studies seemed to be trying to divide bread-winner and caregiver duties between them, moving well beyond the norms of past decades. Indeed, fathers and mothers now face many of the same struggles at work and at home.


Caregiving does not belong to a single gender.  Sexy titles foretelling the end of men and the dominance of women might sell books  - but cross-training for both work at work and the work of the home is a more realistic strategy.

November 1, 2012: Are Women Better Suited To Housework?: Both political parties contribute to gender inequality and exploit the difference between men's and women's economic status to reinforce a political structure that fails parents and children, according to Salon's recent "Devaluing Care Work - And Women".   Paid sick days legislation, and getting home health aides the same protection other workers have, continue to fail in state assemblies and still don't register in national politics.  Why?  Because care work is done mostly by women, often for free, is poorly regarded, and it's women who pay the price if a family member falls ill or child has to stay home.  We've shown a real lack of desire in pushing for national policies that would improve our status at home.  

As Jessica Valenti writes in her new book, “Why Have Kids, “Mommy blogs organize to take down diaper ads but are largely silent on the lack of paid maternity leave. They’ll complain about unfair division of labor at home yet rarely link their husband’s dirty laundry to the larger political system that tells women they’re better suited for housework.”

The NAMC, this enews and Your Wo)Man in Washington, at least, don't fall into this category.

Another aspect of NAMC’s work being making a business case that offering good work/life options is a good business practice and that it’s important for women (and almost every employee) who bear the brunt of home and childrearing responsibilities.  We could include a link to www.NAMCWorkplace.org or a link the pdf of the conference brochure.

November 1, 2012: Parenting Leaves a Lasting Impression: More data is emerging about the link between a child's earliest years and long terms effects on the brain and cognitive development.  The Washington Post's "On Parenting" blog has highlighted recent research showing that exposure to stress, for example, or language can impact brain size and development. The parents' educational level has much to do with the degree of cognitive stimulation the child will experience.   With the data mounting, ensuring that parents have access to the resources they need for economic security and effective parenting should be a public priority.  You can find the posts here and here.

November 1, 2012: A Different Kind of Gender Gap: Usually when we talk about the the "gender gap" we mean the inequality between what men and women earn at work.  But there's a whole different meaning every four years in November - the difference between how men and women vote.  It's not a new phenomenon, and it directly effects how an election turns out.  If forecasts prove correct, the gender gap in the presidential election may reach an all-time high this year.  The New York Times has a great article with fabulous graphics.  And it supports my theory that gender makes a difference in everything.

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