According to latest U.S. Census data, working women who are under thirty and childless are out-earning their male counterparts. Keli Goff, in her Huffpo piece, “Has Mommy-ism Replaced Sexism (And Is That a Bad Thing?)” thinks that this seems to indicate that…
…sexism “in some corners is being usurped by mommy-ism, discrimination not based on sex but based on the decision to become a parent. This raises a fundamental question: Is paying, or promoting someone less for becoming, or planning to become a parent, sexism?”
Seems the answer is maybe yes, maybe no. On one hand, it seems anyone should be allowed to build the family of his or her choice without fearing they will lose his or her job or promotions, and law should protect this right. On the other, when parenting gets in the way of effective performance it does not seem like parent driven sexism as much as job-related reality.
As Goff says, what a boss likely often feels but not say because legally s/he can’t goes something like this: “I am not concerned that you are a woman. I could care less as long as you can do the job and do it well. But I am concerned that after gaining and training a valuable employee like you, I may then lose you for a significant amount of time, possibly more than once, because of your completely valid choice to give birth and have a family. I may even applaud that choice on a personal level, but on a professional level it may impact our company, and our revenue and I have to care about that.”
Woman who do not have kids make it easier to not have to deal with this. However, most of the time childless women at work are childless “for now.” Most do end up becoming mothers. Fathers don’t face this sort of parent based dilemma. Goff seems to think that the solution to the mommy-ism issue and for women to achieve true parity with men, is to get fathers more engaged in helping their wives achieve work/life balance–“Instead of pressuring the men in our management offices to help us achieve work/life balance how about pressuring the men in our homes to help out more with the kids?”
Research tells us that more dads are doing just that. But clearly not enough if mommy-ism is happening out there. To really help make it happen it has to go back to companies as well. They need to have policies that encourage “fathering,” like paternity leave. It’s out there, but not as much as it should be. In the meanwhile, it seems that the childfree just have it easier on this one. Their career can be first and stay first if that is what they want.
But with regard to sexism in the workplace, there are those that are concerned that by the childless reaching pay equity might end up neutralizing gender based discrimination altogether. What is your take? And on mommy-ism — have you seen it out there?