Working Mothers Face the Motherhood Penalty

 By Patsy Campos

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Many women dream of that moment that they become mothers.  For many women this is a happy time, as it should be. But for many working mothers, they are finding a work environment that can be somewhat hostile, unfair, and even sexist.  But why is there so much discrimination towards mothers when it comes to careers?  Why do people degrade something that is a natural part of some women’s lives?

 Society tends to makes its own rules.  I recently came across an article that addressed this issue; I cannot believe how unfair some people are towards working mothers.  Joan Williams, a professor of law at the University of California said that according to a recent study, mothers are 79% less likely to be hired and 100% less likely to get promoted.  Also the study found that mothers are assumed to be less competent than non-mothers.  Who created this mess? 

As I searched through people’s responses in the study I found one that struck me: “the economy needs people who will be there every day and not miss work because of a sick child.”  Just because someone is a parent, it does not mean that they are going to miss work.  People shouldn’t be so quick to make assumptions and to draw conclusions; furthermore, why are they so quick to make this assumption about a working mom, but not a dad. I remember my parents always were at work and received perfect attendance. 

What is sad here is that not only do women have to consider how many children to have or when to have them when it comes to their careers, but whether or not to have children at all because apparently being a mother looks bad to employers.  I believe being a parent should not hinder anybody in the job market. 

We are in the new millennium and it surprises me that people are still discriminating for very foolish reasons.  Many working mothers are very resilient and adaptable – they work, attend school, take care of their families, and still fit in some social life.  That is impressive and it shows determination which is an important quality employers should be looking for.  Working mothers need the support from society and employers who can see the benefits of hiring a working mom and not just the draw backs.  We should eliminate the assumptions about working moms and the motherhood penalty, so that women can make choices about motherhood without worrying about the impact on their jobs.

To hear more about work/life balance, join us for the Starr Community Conversation, “The Three Faces of Work-Family Conflict: The Poor, the Professionals, and the Missing Middle,” on Tuesday, November 9, at 5:45 p.m. at Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center. The conversation will take a deeper, diversified look at local stories of the work/life balance struggles of Kansas City’s “three faces.”