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    Posted May 11, 2012 by
    Farmersburg, Indiana
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    Working Moms - How Difficult Is It?


    The  percentage of Moms working outside the home is nearing an all-time  high. For many reasons, Moms have turned from the traditional role of  being a housewife, keeping the home fires burning, and gone into the  workforce.

    With  Sunday, being Mother's Day, has the role of motherhood become more  difficult in today's world and in the aftermath of the economic  meltdown?

    The  percentage of mothers in the workforce is nearing record highs, leading  to more societal acceptance and childcare options, but mothers still  face a 'mommy wage gap' and other challenges.

    What's become clear  in the weeks since Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen said Ann Romney  "never worked a day in her life" is that the touchy, judgment-passing  hostilities of the so-called mommy wars have not ceased to rankle moms  of all stripes.

    This latest chapter of the mommy wars – which  many saw as a smokescreen for more pressing issues affecting working  mothers today, such as comparatively low wages and the lack of quality,  affordable child care – sees near-record-high shares of mothers in the  workforce, some 70.6 percent.

    It's been about 40 years since  women, freshly liberated by the feminist movement, began entering the  workforce in droves. Four decades later, has it gotten any easier?

    Nonetheless,  many things have changed dramatically for working mothers in the last  40 years. For starters, there are simply many more of them. In 1975 some  47 percent of mothers were in the labor force (defined as working or  looking for work), according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. That  number grew steadily in the '80s and '90s, peaking at almost 73 percent  in 2000.

    And as the number of women in the workforce swelled, so,  too, did their contribution to family incomes. In 1970, a typical wife  chipped in about one-quarter of her family's income, or 26.6 percent. By  2010, the median wife's contribution grew to 37.6 percent of her  family's income. What's more, nearly 40 percent of working wives now  out-earn their husbands, making them the primary breadwinners.

    Of  course, things haven't changed for some groups. By and large, black  mothers and others from lower-income families have always worked, not  because they were pathmakers but because they had to. The greatest  change is observed in middle-class, mostly white mothers who elected to  join the workforce.

    Fathers are also doing more housework, about  two hours on any given weekday, or 42 minutes more per day on average  than in 1977, according to the Families and Work Institute.

    Employer  accommodations for working moms have also improved markedly since the  1970s. More employers are providing job-protected leave, flexible work  schedules, on-site child care, and even breastfeeding rooms. Child-care  options have also improved in the past 30 years, says Deirdre Johnston, a  professor of communication at Hope College in Holland, Mich.

    One  of the greatest advances for working parents since the 1970s is the  Family and Medical Leave Act. Signed into law under President Bill  Clinton in 1993, the federal law requires em-ployers to provide up to 12  weeks of unpaid leave to employees for medical and family needs,  including pregnancy, adoption, foster placement, or family illness. And  employees can't be fired for requesting or taking leave.

    The  statistics are bruising: Mothers with comparable job experience are 44  percent less likely to be hired than women without children, according  to a 2005 study from Cornell University. Even if they are hired,  mothers' starting salaries are about $11,000 lower than that of a woman  without children. And it gets worse. Mothers tend to earn less and less  for each additional child they have, a phenomenon dubbed the "mommy wage  gap."

    For low-income working mothers, progress has been even  slower, says Gloria Thomas, director of the Center for the Education of  Women at the University of Michigan, and a single mother of two.


    From  the Cornfield, to all Moms whether working outside the home or carrying  on with job at home, I wish you each a Happy Mother's Day!

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