The photo shows how different countries handle maternity leave. I wonder how Americans would feel if they all saw the other seven countries that share our maternity leave system. There’s no doubt that this contributes to the inequalities that exist in the workplace today.
Paid maternity leave allows women to spend time and bond with their new babies without having to worry about financial responsibilities. A special time in any person’s life, men should also be awarded similar rights. Furthering this idea, national childcare services should be implemented. Women are often penalized in the workplace for having children. Studies have shown that mothers are a) less likely to be hired than a single women and fathers are and b) more likely to make less than a single women and fathers do. Women are also seen as less competent than their professional counterparts. Therefore, supervisors are judging mothers (whether consciously or subconsciously) on the fact that they’re mothers. People assume that once women have children, females are concerned with their children more than their work. And if they’re not, then they’re seen as bad mothers.
So, we currently live in a society where women are penalized for becoming mothers and looked down upon if they do not live up to the idealized version of what a mother should be. Women too must also deal with the second-shift. I’m a big believer that women should do what makes them happy. If that means being stay-at-home mothers, than I wish them nothing but support. The term “second-shift” was created when women were gaining grounds in the workforce at rapid speeds (think the 80s and 90s). As women’s roles began to expand to the professional sphere, men’s responsibilities did not shift over into the home. Therefore, women not only worked 9-5 but they started a new job, that they are not financially compensated for, at home.
I must also bring up the socio-economic aspect of this. Naturally, a woman who is financially comfortable can afford a cleaning service to come to her house and daycare. But what about single moms who earn little? Or minority women ? Or women (and men) who have to work multiple jobs to support her family? Our system is not set up to support them. When I look at the above photo and see the other countries that America shares this with, well … I’m a bit letdown.
Until next time,