Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Small Changes in the Air.

I saw this article in the Boston Globe and thought it was interesting. It plays off of Desperate Housewives, of course, and the character Lynnette's recent decision to go back to work after being at home for many years (her husband is now home with the kids). Many of us have been thinking about how Lynnette's return to work seemed too easy, at least easier and more successful than the experience of many of our friends. At the same time we were glad to see reentry on TV.

The Boston Globe piece is clear that there's no "opt-out revolution." Many mothers take a few years off, and then they want to get back in to the workplace, without the discrimination that many are now experiencing. To bridge the gap between mothers and the workplace, there have been a series of NY-area career conferences and job fairs. To counter the NYTimes bad angles on us moms lately, I've come to appreciate any media piece that admits that there's discrimination against mothers in the workforce. The Globe piece cites a recent Cornell study in which the researcher was so shocked at what her data showed (as in, mothers were offered an average of 11K less than similarly trained men, and hired half as frequently), that she reanalyzed her data to be sure there wasn't a mistake.

We don't yet have any numbers or many anecdotes that tell us that moms who take off who finding on ramps back in. Even the mom in this article hasn't yet found a good job, and she's thinking about lower-level jobs, like a department-store stocking position, that clearly doesn't use her college-educated talents. And on the negative side, it's only a few companies who seem to appear at venues like this. However, these companies are recognizing that many mothers move in and out of work, that this is for many the new normal, and that this doesn't mean they're not valuable. And the company always quoted in these articles is Deloitte, which represents only one small sector of our economy. Still, while I'm being optimistic, who says one highly placed company can't make change? At least someone's out in front on this. Kudo's to Globe reporter Maggie Jackson for telling the truth about one part of the work-family experience of being a mother.

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