Women overall make labor force gains; mothers thrown under the bus

This briefing on women in the workforce is impressive. While I am excited that women have made economic progress, I am still distressed about the sexism that is still inherent in the workforce. This companion article aptly points out that the gender inequality issues we have yet to confront in the workforce have to do with issues like the lack of Paid Family Leave, unequal pay between men and women and the lack of representation of women in higher levels at a company.

However, this article goes on to make a wrong turn:

Many women feel they have to choose between their children and their careers. Women who prosper in high-pressure companies during their 20s drop out in dramatic numbers in their 30s and then find it almost impossible to regain their earlier momentum. Less-skilled women are trapped in poorly paid jobs with hand-to-mouth child-care arrangements. Motherhood, not sexism, is the issue: in America, childless women earn almost as much as men, but mothers earn significantly less. And those mothers’ relative poverty also disadvantages their children.

We all know that, to a large extent, discrimination against mothers is discrimination against women. If it were simply about children being a liability for those in the labor force, fathers would be penalized in the labor force more than men without children. Recent studies reflect that: fathers get higher ratings than non-dads and there is no difference between the callbacks that father and non-dads receive upon sending a resume. All the while, these same studies reflect that female mothers get the shaft:

Using fake resumes for two equally qualified candidates-one childless, one a mom–the researchers found that the mother was 100% less likely to be hired when she applied for a position. Mothers were consistently ranked as less competent and less committed than non-moms.

The problem with the companion article’s analysis is that it does the issue of gender equality a disservice because it implies that children belong to women, and women alone. Figuring in how fathers also fare in the labor force supports the fact that mothers are marginalized, but they are marginalized because they are women.

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