December 18, 2006

We All Have Mothers

One of my Purple WomenTM informants was kind enough to send me an article from San Francisco Weekly called New Mother's Work by Eliza Strickland (12/6/2006).

The post title above is a quote by Joan Blades, co-founder of a new political action group called Moms Rising. Her co-founder is author Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner who recently debuted some new data in her first book, The F-Word: Feminism in Jeapoardy:

"For every dollar that a man earns today, a childless woman earns 90 cents — not perfect equality, but close — while mothers earn 73 cents, on average, and single moms earn 60 cents. These numbers represent disparities in hourly wages, so part-time work schedules and unpaid leaves don't skew the statistics."

We childfree have a true workplace advantage. We still don't have pay equity with the men, but I will say her numbers make it look like we've progressed. How we will fare with the pull of this newly realized political organizing is yet to be seen.

When Blades says "we all have mothers," I am reminded of how hard it must have been for my mother, a single mother in the beginning. I need to read more about their agenda, but initially I am captured by their cause - even though I have no intention of raising kids.

Moms Rising could be good for all women. Backers like Sens. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Ted Kennedy would be wise to recognize families of two as they push for new family-friendly legislation and workplace policies. The two should go hand-in-hand.

As Purple WomenTM we are unwitting feminists, whether we like it or not. My question is, are we going to have a voice in the changes that inevitably take place, or will we simply take a backseat to mothers?


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6 comments:

Ashley said...

I've heard about that. But I need to see *why* these women are making less. Are they not putting in the same hours? Are coming late, leaving early, no overtime under any circumstances? If they're being paid less simply because they have kids, that's a problem. It wrong and I'm sure it's illegal. But I'm not going to argue if a company has legitimate reasons.

Ashley said...

I've heard about that. But I need to see *why* these women are making less. Are they not putting in the same hours? Are coming late, leaving early, no overtime under any circumstances? If they're being paid less simply because they have kids, that's a problem. It wrong and I'm sure it's illegal. But I'm not going to argue if a company has legitimate reasons.

tugboat said...

As a man, with children (why am I reading these blogs?)and having worked with women who both had and did not have or had grown children, I can say that perfomance should be the real test. It doesn't matter how many hours you work as long as you bring equal value to your company. Clearly, if you have a job that requires that you be there physically then that is one thing, but if work can happen outside the place of business, then the above test should prevail. Anyhow, the real issue is the nature of work and what employers expect from employees. Employers think they should own your life 40-60 hours even when they pay you a mere sustainable wage. If you're earning big bucks, ala Goldman Sachs, then the incentive is there to sacrifice your kids soccer practice, but for most working women, working for a wage,it's a toss up. My wife, for example is incredible at balancing her life. With 4 year old twins and a demanding consulting practice, she still manages to be a good mom (with my help)get in a workout most days, volunteer for committees and boards, and do a decent job of cooking and taking care of the house. (Oh, you ask, what does this guy contribute?) I do my share, it's a balance. It takes a couple. The real heroes are single moms.

Elise said...

Tugboat has a very "corporate" point of view...i.e., if you only log 20 hours at the office, and you still get the job done by being more effective and by working from home, no sweat. That's great for corporate types. My ex-husband is a software engineer, and so I got a good glimpse of what that kind of schedule can be like.

I'm a high school teacher. My husband is a city letter carrier for the Postal Service. One of my friends is a day-care provider who works out of her home. Another of my friends is a nurse. We all have to *be there*, period, no matter how efficient we are.

The upside is that, unlike a lot my professional pals' jobs lately none of our jobs will ever get outsourced to India...because again, we have to *be there*, period!

And Tugboat, in my opinion, if a single mother loses her partner due to spousal abuse or widowhood, then she's definitely a hero. However, those women who chose to be single moms are just...well...insane. They work until they drop, both at home and at the office, and their children are probably *still* shortchanged. Any semblance of their own lives, the "balance" that everyone loves to talk about, are gone...unless she has an excellent white-collar job which affords her excellent, flexible day care or even a nanny. Very few single moms fall into this category.

I guess if parenthood was something that was a given in life, I'd feel differently, but it's not --- it's a choice. My husband delivers welfare checks on his route to entirely able-bodied 20- and 30-somethings who are single moms, have the TV blaring almost every hour they're awake, and while not abusive, give their kids next to no human interaction or stimulus. When these kids go to day care, it will be a saving grace for them, simply because of the interaction they'll receive. Soccer practice isn't even on the radar screen for these families.

Tugboat, it sounds like you and your family have a wonderful life. But you're really trying to extend a very white-collar point of view to the world at large, and it just doesn't work.

kim said...

I suspect the reason that childless women make more money than those with children is that they probably have more years of education -- because they had more time to do that.
Just a guess

AlphaGirl said...

It's interesting to note that the only segment of the "working mother" portion of the workforce that benefits from the flex-time and other arrrangements are the upper-level women. Rank-and-file office workers who are parents rarely if at all have access to flextime or work-at-home arrangements. These policies are skewed toward a priveleged few within the workforce. I have yet to see a receptionist, typist or file clerk have access to these perks. I worked in a corporate setting for most of my adult life before coming to my senses and seeking out something different. It's interesting to see how these policies are skewed to a select few, whereas the "regular folk" could benefit them as well.