work-life balance

If Working Moms Had More Support, Our Entire Economy Would Improve

Female University Student Working In Library With Tutor

Being a woman, especially a mom, seems to be under attack these days (hello, preexisting conditions!). But doesn’t it seem like considering C-sections preexisting conditions, and not having federal mandated maternity/parental leave, are counterintuitive to a better economy? Well, you aren’t the only one asking that question (or worrying about how you’re going to survive). Economists are looking into these questions too.

According to an article Bloomberg, women’s progress in the workplace has “stalled,” and that “women’s participation in the U.S. workforce peaked two decades ago. And today, women are making big changes to when, and whether, they have children.”

The article quoted Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, who gave a speech last week at Brown University and said: “We, as a country, have reaped great benefits from the increasing role that women have played in the economy. But evidence suggests that barriers to women’s continued progress remain.”

Is it a surprise when child care costs so much–and many moms can’t breastfeed at work or have flexible hoursBloomberg pointed out that “research suggests the U.S. economy would expand 5 percent if as many women were employed as men. Japan’s would increase 9 percent, and Egypt’s 34 percent.” And a lot of these numbers are stalling because many women, unless they are wealthy (or make a lot of money) and can afford childcare costs, can’t necessarily return to work as fast, because the costs outweighs income:

“A 2014 study found about a quarter of American mothers of preschoolers don’t work. Women in managerial or professional jobs were the most likely to remain in the workforce: Only 15 percent of them stopped working while their children were young—but they did cut back on how much they worked, by about 2.5 hours per week, on average. (A Pew Research Center survey released in March found that American workers in households making more than $75,000 a year are twice as likely to get paid leave as those whose households earn less than $30,000.)” 

To mothers, of course, this seems like common sense—but somehow, to certain male politicians, it’s rocket science. The myth that policies like maternity leave hurt the economy rather than help it is pervasive, and honestly, misogynist.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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