Maternal Profiling -- People Are Talking About It
By Anita Sarah Jackson
When ABC did their story on maternal profiling, I was really glad about it. Not, of course, about maternal profiling, but the fact that a mainstream media outlet was picking up on this issue. Many of us talk about suspected maternal profiling (discrimination in the workplace due to parental status) with our trusted friends and family, but outside a couple of New York Times articles mentioning it (like this great one about a real mom in PA, there didn't seem to be much light shed on this publicly.
So, it was refreshing to know that the facts and real people's stories got airtime. Many of us have experienced discrimination in hiring because we're mothers, or family caregivers, or just have some regular responsibilities that mean we simply cannot be chained to our workplaces at any hour of the day or night. And many of you shared your stories right here. But I don't often see this covered in the media outside of a superficial, "mommy wars" kind of way.
On the ABC website, they posted an accompanying story highlighting stories of moms in Pennsylvania who had to face personal questions about their marital and parental status. So many of the comments following the stories are from moms who have been there. One pointed out that kids today are tomorrow's leaders, and even people without kids are going to be relying on them for services in the years to come. I really appreciated that-- it took the cliche that "children are our future" and made it concrete. Who will be our doctors, teachers, laborers, office workers in five, ten, twenty years? Yep, the current crop of 13 year olds and younger are going to hit adulthood sooner than we think. The time to parent them is NOW.
And let's be clear: no parent is asking for the moon here from their employers. No one is expecting special treatment. Heck, almost every other country in the world manages to provide family-friendly benefits like paid family leave, and the world economy isn't on the brink of collapse (well, not due to that!). So it's not impossible. We just need a shift in corporate culture and in the laws of the land (that's all!). A shift that recognizes that society does not rest solely on the fourth quarter earnings of a corporation. And let's recognize that employees don't come from nowhere-- we were all born to someone, raised by someone. Maybe come home to someone who shares our life. Those someones are our family.
Bottom line: We cannot expect society to keep rolling along as usual if we don't acknowledge the reality of the time and effort of child-rearing. Raising kids is work. It's labor that takes time like any other job-- even if you have a paid outside job, even if you have paid childcare. Whether you're working and have kids in childcare or are a full-time parent, you know that the work of parenting is as much labor as any job. And it's worth just as much, at least. It's time our society came to grips with that fact. So the more mainstream media tells it like it is, the better chances we have of developing a work culture in this country compatible with-- instead of working against-- family life.
Anita Sarah Jackson is a mother of an 18 month old and pregnant with the family's second child. Anita earned her BA from UC Berkeley and JD from American University's Washington College of Law, studying international human rights. She is employed in two part-time jobs, one for MomsRising.org.
MomsRising.org is an organization working to build a truly family-friendly nation. Started in May, 2006, MomsRising uses the power of online organizing in coordination with grassroots activities and media outreach to educate the public about problems facing American families and to propose common sense solutions. MomsRising.org provides citizens with an opportunity to amplify their voices and to take their concerns to leaders who are in positions to implement real changes.
Find us and join us at MomsRising.org.