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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Invisible Mothers

In Mother Shock, Andrea Buchanan's excellent roadmap to the Land of Young Children she writes:

(Motherhood) does nothing to pad a resume, as women discover when they attempt to re-enter the working-for-pay world. Mothers, particularly mothers who stay at home with their children, have traded their economic viability to invest in the invaluable creation of human beings. You'd think that would be empowering. You'd think that would be respectable. You'd think that would be an interesting point of conversation. You'd be wrong.

Andi is so right!

I recently spent a morning at a women's career fair with my friend (and Momsters, Inc. advisor) Teresa. We put on makeup, donned our career wear and heels, and headed to Chicago to network. Teresa and I are articulate, educated, capable, skilled women. We enjoyed successful careers before trading them for slow track jobs that enable us to care for our families. We want to ramp up our careers and experience the thrill of a regular and sizeable paycheck in addition to the challenges and fulfillment of a career. However, we are looking for part-time work in order to maintain some sense of work-life balance, i.e. not become overstressed bitches.

None of the exhibitors offered part-time jobs and when I questioned recruiters about part-time opportunities they were hard pressed to think of any such positions within their large companies.

It's great that more companies are making efforts to retain pregnant employees/new moms by offering better maternity leaves, but what about the millions of moms who have already opted out? The mature, responsible, highly-qualified women who want to apply and enhance their professional skills but only for 15-30 hours per week? The moms raising children who, as Andi Buchanan points out, may one day run the companies that grant your grandchildren six or more months of paid family leave and the right for both parents to return to part-time positions with full benefits and on-site childcare.

Teresa and I spoke briefly with the conference organizer about this issue. In a nutshell she told us that while she could easily attract enough on-ramp moms to fill an exhibit hall she probably couldn't find any companies willing to pay for booths at such an event. It's a familiar riff: today's mothers are busy caring for our future, but who cares about the future of today's mothers?

posted by Kim Moldofsky @ 9:36 PM  

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