This blog is part of the #HERvotes blog carnival!
A divorced janitor, a 27-year employee and the mother of a seventeen-year old son with the mental capacity of an 18-month old, fails to report for mandatory overtime one Saturday when her son’s caregiver could not work because of a sick child. She calls twice and leaves a message for her manager. She gets fired.
As I read about this woman in Reshaping the Work-Family Debate: Why Men and Class Matter by Joan Williams, I wondered what this mother’s take would be on Jonah Goldberg’s proclamation in the Los Angeles Times this spring that “Feminism as a ‘movement’ in America is largely played out. Continue reading
I noticed that a number of people find my blog because they are searching for information on dealing with a gap in their resume due to time out of the workforce to care for family. They land on this post, How to Explain Gap in Resume: Caring for Family or…Coma?, which tells the story of one mother who was advised that she’d be better off telling a prospective employer that she’d been “in a coma” than saying she’d been caring for family and “doing nothing.”
I knew THAT wasn’t good advice. While I give some tips in my original post, I decided it was time to go to the experts for more advice for my readers. So I reached out to my friend Carol Fishman Cohen at iRelaunch. iRelaunch offers a range of resources and services for women re-entering the workforce. All of which are informed by Carol and her co-founder Vivian’s constant interaction with employers and recruiters, plus their own experience as hiring managers and recruiters.
Carol packed our conversation with advice worth its weight in gold, for mothers and for anyone with a gap in their resume.
Kristin: Carol, multiple studies show that mothers in particular face automatic bias that has a direct impact on pay and promotions. Being a woman and having a gap in your resume often triggers that bias. So what’s the most important resume advice for someone who has a gap in her resume? Continue reading
So can you guess who said this?
“The fault line between work and family [is] precisely where sex-based generalization has been and remains the strongest. . . . Stereotypes about women’s domestic responsibilities are reinforced by parallel stereotypes, presuming a lack of domestic responsibilities for men. These mutually reinforcing stereotypes create a self-fulfilling cycle of discrimination.”
Democratic politician? Liberal think tank?
It was former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, William Rehnquist, in a 2003 opinion.
Stereotypes about mothers and fathers impact families of all political stripes. What have you done lately to bust your own stereotypes?
P.S. Check out this quiz for some examples of the types of parallel stereotypes about mothers and fathers that Rehnquist had in mind.
Thanks to Becky and Hollee for drawing my attention to this article in the Washington Post – Five Myths About Working Mothers by Naomi Cahn and June Carbone. A great summary of some of the big myths about employed mothers that just won’t die because they’re held up by outdated stereotypes about mothers, fathers, and work.
A few are myths I discuss at length in my book This is Not How I Thought It Would Be: Remodeling Motherhood to Get the Lives We Want Today.
“1. Mothers today spend much less time caring for children than did their parents and grandparents.” False!
“4. Women who work are less likely to have successful marriages.” False!
“5. Parents don’t experience discrimination in the workplace.” False!
And two that I didn’t have a chance to explore in detail.
“2. Women’s jobs interfere with family life more than men’s.” False!
“3. Mothers with college degrees are more likely than other women to opt out of the workforce.” False!
Of course, there are also plenty of myths about mothers who are not employed such as “Mothers who are not employed are dull.” (i.e. the soap opera and bon-bons myth.) Think you know them? Take my Mental Map Matching Quiz and match the real-life scenario to the outdated stereotype about mothers or fathers.
Which myths about mothers and fathers do you confront most often? Which are the most problematic in your life?
The New York Times recently published a great article called A Toolkit for Women Seeking a Raise. The article combines the explanation of the challenges women face in negotiating raises:
“We have found that if a man and a woman both attempt to negotiate for higher pay, people find a women who does this, compared to one who does not, significantly less attractive,” said Hannah Riley Bowles, an associate professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, who has conducted numerous studies on gender, negotiation and leadership. “Whereas with the guy, it doesn’t seem to matter.”
WITH what to do about it:
“So what’s a woman to do if she feels her work merits a raise? A new study concludes that women need to take a different approach than men. Women, it suggests, should frame their requests in more nuanced ways to avoid undermining their relationship with their boss.”
The article’s approach mirrors my own advice on this topic and others at the heart of my book, This is Not How I Thought It Would Be: Remodeling Motherhood To Get the Lives We Want Today. If mothers become consciously aware of the outdated stereotypes about mothers, fathers, money and work still running amuck, they have a better chance of navigating situations effectively. Continue reading
Earlier this week I had the welcome chance to visit Pasadena City College to talk about my book, This is Not How I Thought It Would Be: Remodeling Motherhood to Get the Lives We Want Today. I wanted to make it interactive so I put together this Mental Map Matching Quiz we used together. The quiz asks you to match the quotes and scenarios on the left (all real-life examples) to the outdated mental maps (or stereotypes) about mothers, fathers, money and work on the right.
Lo and behold, it worked just as I’d hoped. In talking through the quiz, and getting outraged at some of the examples, the women in the room were then also able to talk about their own personal examples. The way everyone at school assumes “mom” is the one who will be volunteering in class and bringing class treats. The way a newly pregnant woman found that everyone around her assumed she’d be the one taking care of the baby. The way a stepmom noticed that while her husband had taken care of his kids 50% before she married him, once married they defaulted into her taking care of family.
Take the quiz. Let me know what you think. Share your personal examples – for the next quiz!
Love this Patt Morrison interview with Gloria Steinem in today’s LA Times, Gloria Steinem: The Founder. Agree or disagree, she’s honest and doesn’t have rose-colored glasses on when it comes to the status of women in this country.
Favorite quote, “The big step for this coming generation is to get to a place where men raise children as much as women do.”
Every day, coast to coast, mothers and fathers suffer from an invisible threat – Identity Whiplash.
Let me illustrate. Shortly after my daughter was born, my husband and I went to a college alumni networking event. As we started to mingle, the inevitable question came, “So what are you doing now?” My answer, “Caring for our infant daughter.” From that point on it was as if I disappeared into the floor; no one wanted to talk with me, while everyone chatted happily with my attorney husband. I was stunned, and devastated. I still thought of myself as an intelligent, interesting person, but clearly all of a sudden no one else did.
Or take this scenario. A father friend of mine took his three small children out for coffee one morning, as he wrangled the whirling tutus and the baby on his lap, people gaped. Finally one woman came up to him and said “It’s so AMAZING how you handle all three of them!” He said later it was as if he had one arm and was taking care of three kids, while no one ever stops his wife when she’s out with three kids. While his audience saw him as a freak of nature, he simply thought of himself as a father.
Identity Whiplash happens when mothers and fathers crash into outdated assumptions others have about us that conflict with how we think of ourselves, leaving us dazed, confused and even questioning our identity and our decisions. Continue reading
A recent post to Mamapedia, “Does Motherhood Equal Identity Loss?” explored the identity changes that come with motherhood and quickly gathered over a hundred comments saying, “I am faced daily with the question of my own personhood. For weeks I’ve been milk maker, soother, diaper changer and occasionally ‘lady who showers and smells nice’… I stress ‘occasionally’ here.” I felt there was so much to say about identity that it is the only topic to have TWO chapters dedicated to it in my book, This is Not How I Thought It Would Be: Remodeling Motherhood to Get the Lives We Want Today, some of which is here in my Identity Pie blog post.
What we don’t often realize is that the same reasons we experience major shifts in our own identities are often the cause of a disconnect between us and our husbands. Continue reading