The mother tax: working mothers are at breaking point


What will it take for employers to account for the increased responsibilities of working mothers?

For working mothers, The Big Resignation is a mistake: it’s a misnomer women have selected to quit their jobs en masse. On the contrary, they are strength deprived of their jobs by unfair work structures. Working mothers have been pushed to breaking point, balancing their careers with caregiving obligations.

The Disabled Mother

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 72% of working mothers in the United States. Yet working mothers are burdened with seldom-addressed inequalities, a liability imposed on them by corporations, further delaying women’s equality. They face unfair penalties at work, including lower earnings, are overlooked for promotions, and forced out of their jobs. For each child they have, mothers benefit on average from a salary reduction of 5 to 10%. Meanwhile, fathers receive a 6% wage increase per child.

The pandemic has exacerbated inequalities for working mothers. The task of running a household in a remote and socially distant world meant overseeing schooling, entertaining and watching the children in the absence of after-school programs, and caring for the children’s emotional needs, all while adjusting to working from home and managing work responsibilities around the world. uncertainty.

At the start of the third year of the pandemic, 53% of working mothers slept less than six hours a night. Almost a quarter of working mothers don’t have time to take care of themselves, including eating healthy, exercising or connecting with friends. As the primary caregiver in many households, 33% of married working mothers identified themselves as their sole provider of child care— many women have been forced to choose between their children and their careers.

Working mothers have absorbed the shock waves caused by COVID-19 in families, especially those with young children. Exorbitant responsibility has driven them out of their careers: today there are almost two million fewer women in the labor market than at the start of the pandemic. Mothers, and especially mothers of color, have quit their jobs at higher rates than any other demographic group.

For each child they have, mothers benefit on average from a salary reduction of 5 to 10%. Meanwhile, fathers receive a 6% wage increase per child.

The problem of technology with women

There is perhaps no field more inequitable for women than the tech industry. Today, women make up only 26% of the IT-related workforce. Thirty-eight percent of women in tech plan to leave their jobs in the next two years. Ultimately, these statistics reveal concerning trends regarding technology’s inability to push for flexibility, work/life balance, and effective DEI strategies.

It’s not uncommon within the Women Impact Tech community to hear women say they’re one of the few, if not the only woman on their tech team. This is at the heart of our community’s work: dismantling systemic barriers – which disproportionately affect working mothers – to rebalance privilege and power in areas of technology.

At the start of the pandemic, women in the tech industry were twice as likely to be fired or laid off as their male counterparts. In the years since, 54% of women said the pandemic is making it harder for them to break into the tech industry.

As countries around the world celebrate the resumption of employment for women, the United States is lagging behind, hampered by a lack of affordable child care and elder care that prevents many people to re-enter the labor market. Women are not supported in the workplace and working mothers are pushed beyond their breaking point.

What will it take for employers to create work structures that take into account the needs of mothers?

As the primary caregivers in many households (33% of working married mothers identified themselves as the sole caregivers of their children), many women were forced to choose between their children and their careers.

Create business structures based on the needs of moms

Employers must design work structures that are conducive to the responsibilities of working mothers. If they want to have women in the workplace, companies need to be flexible about the type of structure these employees need.

In order to retain women balancing household responsibilities, give them flexibility in their schedules. Remote work has brought a level of flexibility and self-determination into these mothers’ lives that they cannot afford to give up. Only about 22% of women want to return to the office full time.

Meeting the unique needs of working moms allows them to perform at their best at work and at home, while still having the bandwidth to take care of themselves. Starting points for corporations include:

  • Provide childcare support, either through on-site facilities or through direct financial support to help working parents cover costs.
  • Encourage people of all genders to take parental leave – leave for children should not be relegated only to women’s work. Do not punish any employee who takes parental leave; in fact, celebrate it.
  • Eliminate the myriad forms of discrimination that afflict working mothers in your workplace – from a pay cut to being overlooked for promotion opportunities to being pushed out of the job altogether. Create work structures that allow all employees to reach their full potential.

Working mothers deserve the world. The least we can do is create fair work structures to allow them to thrive.

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