Has Your Mom Status Hurt or Helped You at Work?

Mother’s Day tends to bring out all the sap and not much substance about motherhood–especially in ads and marketing (such as the many emails I received this year from brands wishing me a “Happy Mother’s Day”!), but also in the media.

So I was pleasantly surprised to see this intelligent article about workplace discrimination against moms in Sunday’s Cincinnati Enquirer. Editorial board member Krista Ramsey explores how stereotypes and bias against mothers can hurt us in our jobs, whether it’s at the interview stage, during employment, or at promotion time.

Here’s my favorite quote from the article:

“The biggest problem is that employees often make assumptions, usually not driven by facts, about how employees will behave when they become caregivers,” said Cynthia Thomas Calvert, deputy director of the WorkLife Law Center. “There’s an assumption that once a woman becomes a mother, she won’t be as competent at her job or as committed or dependable – without the employee ever getting the chance to prove herself.”

Personally, I don’t think I’ve been held back because I’m a mom. If anything, it’s helped me gain new perspective as a marketer and a writer, enabling to do my job even better. I’ve also been able to connect with clients and coworkers who are parents (there’s always something to talk about when you have young kids as your material).

But I know I’m lucky, and that many moms have had to deal with discrimination. I’m sure I’ll encounter it at some point. What about you? Have you been hurt or helped by your “mom” status at work?


7 thoughts on “Has Your Mom Status Hurt or Helped You at Work?

  1. My only problem occurred when my young kids became sick on a workday. I had a few supervisors who were not parents and were completely unsympathetic that I needed to stay home (my husband and I took turns). I don’t think it hurt my career per se, but it did leave me feeling tense and resentful.

    The thing is … I also can appreciate the supervisors’ perspective. It’s such a no-win scenario. My kids are older now, so this isn’t an issue, but wanting/needing to miss work because of sick kids was one of the most stressful things about parenting for me.

  2. Amy in Ohio says:

    I was very aware of this possible perception when I returned to work after P was born. I worked harder, stayed later, “danced” a little more than before – just to prove that motherhood wasn’t going to make me less of an employee.

    That has warn off I think and I’m back to being the worker I was pre-motherhood – very good, with brief moments of greatness. In our office, I’m a one-woman band, so there isn’t a lot of competition around performance for me. It might be different in such an environment.

    One of the best advantages I have is working for a working mom. She raised her children – now all college age and above – while working full-time. It makes a difference to work for someone that has been there, done that.

  3. The Monkey's Momma says:

    I am the only employee in the office of a smaller company and work for a boss who has 3 kids of his own. His wife also works outside their home. He completely “gets” being a working parent and has NEVER questioned me when I needed time off for my son. Now I’m pregnant again and it has not been a issue at all. Doctor appointments, or daycare pick up or sick days, I know that I will never be penalized for any of it.

    If I’m running a lot of errands in a day for the company and we make a plan together, he always asks if I’ll have enough time to do everything and still get to daycare on time.

    I couldn’t ask for a more understanding boss.

  4. I faced a lot of vitriol when I was pregnant the first time. I was at a small ad agency, and the childless married owners would ask me questions like, “Are you sure you want to keep this baby?” They made me crank out all kinds of unreasonable projects because they feared I wouldn’t be productive once I had a baby. They were quite vocal about all this. Needless to say, I flew that coop.

    Now I work for myself, but still, many clients don’t know that I plan my schedule around my sons’ school and that I can never make a lunch meeting because I’m at the kitchen table eating PBJ with my boys. I don’t live a charade, let’s just say I’m not totally open. And that sucks because what mom doesn’t want to gush (or complain) about her children?

  5. Though I’m not a mother yet, I have witnessed discrimination against someone just because she was a mother.

    I was a recruiter for a software company and a woman interviewed for a position and my boss loved her. He wouldn’t hire her, though, because she was a mom and, as such, would be less willing to work 70 hour weeks and come in on weekends too.

    I remember feeling really angry about the situation because not only was that a ridiculous expectation for time commitment, it was an illegal reason to not hire somebody. Grrr.

  6. just4ofus says:

    As much as I disagree with this assumption that an employer might make upfront, I do see why they make this assumption, right or not.
    Usually it is the mom sacrificing her work hours for the family, with the occasional exception.
    I am the one that sacrificed my “career” to stay home part time and be the family primary care giver, because it worked out better for us and just made sense. I believe having a family is all about sacrifice, that you can NOT have everything. It’s impossible. All of you should agree with that, during your year blogging, we have now seen three of the four of you change your job plans to lessen your hours and be available more for your family.
    Did you husbands do this?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.