Cultural Collaboration — Motherhood and Careers
The percentage of women in the American workforce has grown exponentially since the end of WWII, and in recent years more and more families need to have both the husband and wife working in order to make ends meet. Meanwhile the cultural collaboration of women in the workforce who also have — or would like to have — children at home presents a study worthy of interest. This paper looks at four aspects of women at work and/or at home raising children.
National Organization for Women. “Dismantle the Mom Myth: Send a Letter to the Media.”
Retrieved July 12, 2009, from http://www.now.org/lists/now-action-list/msg00289.html.
This article in the National Organization for Women (NOW) Web site asks women to write letters to the editor and to other media outlets protesting the so-called “opt-out revolution.” That “revolution” is the apparent trend by the media to emphasize that many women are leaving high-paying careers because their maternal instincts are sending them scurrying home of the corporate offices (NOW). It is an “epidemic” of media coverage, the NOW article claims, but the media is not mentioning that “[most] women are in fact managing both careers and motherhood,” and that some women are being “pushed out” of high-salary corporate positions. The “opt-out” revolution is a “myth,” the article contends. The reasons for some women leaving the workforce for home and childrearing are not being fairly articulated, the NOW Web site claims; and further, the “mothers who can afford to leave the waged workforce” are a “relatively small group” and don’t deserve the amount of publicity they are receiving.
Correll, Shelly J., and Benard, Stephen. “Getting a Job: Is There a Motherhood Penalty?”
American Journal of Sociology 112.5 (2007): 1297-1338.
This scholarly article looks into the phenomenon of women being discriminated against in the workplace because they have children at home and are balancing motherhood with career. In fact, Correll et al. assert that “employed mothers” in the U.S. “suffer a per-child wage penalty” of about 5% on average (Correll p. 1297). Another study referenced by Correll in the article claims that female consultants are rated “less competent” when described as being “a mother” than women who have no children at home. In our culture, Correll continues, fathers are not discriminated against because “â€¦understandings of what it means to be a good father are not seen in our culture as incompatible withâ€¦what it takes to be a good worker” (p. 1298). But when women are mothers, they are seen as less “committed” than women without children.
Brown, Alan S. “Study: Women Are Putting Family Before Mathematics.” Mechanical
Engineering 131.5 (2009): 10-12.
In this article two Cornell University professors conducted a study by researching “400 studies and analyses of women in math-related professions”; the results of their research shows that twice as many women as men “drop out of math-intensive careers, including engineering” Brown, 2009). Why do women leave engineering and math-intensive careers? “The timing of child-rearing coincides with the most demanding periods of their career,” the article claims.
Mason, Mary Ann, and Ekman, Eve Mason. Mothers on the Fast Track: How a New
Generation Can Balance Family and Careers. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.
In this book, the authors present — in a positive light — a wide swath of issues that face working mothers, but the sum and substance is that “Mothers who persist do remarkably well” (p. 53). In fact, mothers with children “under six” earned more “and were promoted more quickly than women without children.” Indeed, “successful mothers get the workplace to work for them,” the authors report (p. 54). They get the work done well and completely, but they do it in a different time frame than men. One reason female lawyers and corporate executives who are also mothers succeed, the book explains, is that they have “the ability to say no” (p. 54). They refuse evening meetings, and to stay strong mothers in corporate positions have “physical stamina, an ambitious nature, and just plain luck” (p. 53).
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