Some people think having kids is the worst career move a woman can make. Of course having a child is a beautiful, fulfilling experience.
But in the US, it’s also a costly, painful experience that illustrates that we have a major bias against working moms.
The minute a woman in the US has a baby, she’s left without paid leave to care for it. She’s less likely to be hired if she looks for a job and when a woman with kids is hired, she’ll make 4% less than a woman without kids. And this wage gap happens for every kid a woman has.
Yes: for every child you have, your salary decreases.
Low-income women are hit especially hard, losing 6% of their wages for every child they have. To top it off, mothers are less likely to be promoted than non-mothers while men are more likely to be hired and be paid more if they have kids. It’s called the Motherhood Penalty.
"...employers rate fathers as the most desirable employees, followed by childless women, childless men and finally mothers. They also hold mothers to harsher performance standards and are less lenient when they are late...two policies shrink the motherhood penalty: publicly funded, high-quality child care for babies and toddlers, and moderate-length paid parental leave...Countries like Sweden with more progressive policies, such as incentives for new fathers to also take leave, have a smaller pay gap."
And FYI: Paid leave is standard in every developed country. The only other countries that do not offer it are Swaziland, Lesotho, and Papua New Guinea.
So why doesn't this exist here? It could. Yesterday I spoke to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) from DC in the Senate Studio. They are kicking ass and taking names but only 27 Senators have co-sponsored their paid leave bill that would allow working families to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave to help care for loved ones (parent, partner, new baby). To put those 12 weeks (84 days) into perspective: France gets 112 days, Indonesia gets 84 days, Russia has 140 days and Mexico gets 84 days of 100% paid leave. Only 12% of U.S. workers have access to paid family leave through their employers. These workers are disproportionately well paid, highly educated men.
Why are they having SUCH a hard time convincing the government to support basic human needs like procreating and death? Senators Gillibrand and Heitkamp's colleagues haven’t had to birth a baby or rush a kid to daycare before getting to Congress. As grandfathers, they aren’t first on call for babysitting and they presumably haven’t had to be the primary care provider for an ailing family member. They can’t relate. Women, however, have been on the forefront of that and thus, haven’t been able to get ahead. This bill provides leave for both men and women so that women aren’t stuck with the burden of care at the expense of their incomes.
I've been researching and talking to sociologists and elected officials this past month for a new episode of Strong Opinions Loosely Held. At first it started simply asking why women were having only 1 kid (smaller Motherhood penalty!). It became clear this was a hyper-personal coping mechanism for living in a country whose policies don't match reality. (Stay tuned for the full convo with these awesome ladies in podcast and video form.)
What you can do: Tweet, call or FB comment at your Senator and tell them to support and cosign the paid leave bill. You can find all that info right here. Or you can retweet this tweet.
In other news, how fun is watching Kellyanne Conway these days?! Witnessing her avoid simple questions is totally fascinating and entertaining. But it doesn’t give me any useful information. And that’s the whole point of her being on TV: to provide me with useful information about what the Trump administration is doing or intends to do. KAC’s performance maybe perfect for debate club but her appearances should raise questions about what utility she’s providing to the American people.
It may seem baffling but here’s how she pulls a Conway:
Deflect: Look for an opening to pivot to paint the administration as the victim and/or go on the offensive.
Exploit politeness: Uses a keyword, repeats it back in the answer during an unrelated non sequitur and know that the host will be too polite to call you out on said rant.
Pass the Buck: “I don’t know” is a great excuse when you’re backed into a corner but make sure you let people know who they can talk to. Make sure that person is totally inaccessible.
Make stuff up: When in doubt, question the definition of basic words so you’re arguing over something totally different.
Full VOX video breakdown here.
Which is why NYU’s Jay Rosen suggests not booking Conway.
“This is somebody who can speak for the Trump administration. But if we find that what Kellyanne Conway says is routinely or easily contradicted by Donald Trump, then that [reason to have her on] disappears," he said. "It’s not just lying or spin or somebody who is skilled in the political arts of putting the best case on things or not answering a question, which is a pretty basic method of doing politics. It’s that when you are done listening to Kellyanne Conway, you probably understand less. That’s a problem."
And MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski refuses to book Kellyanne Conway on “Morning Joe”.
“We know for a fact she tries to book herself on this show. I won't do it, 'cuz I don't believe in fake news or information that is not true. And that is — every time I've ever seen her on television, something’s askew, off or incorrect.”
Me this week: Strong Opinions Loosely Held was nominated for a DigiDay award for best podcast.
See you back here next week.