• Katica Roy

What We Keep Getting Wrong About Working Moms


Welcome to my weekly Q&A feature. (Scroll down to find the Q&A.)


If this is your first time here, welcome. I spend a fair amount of time speaking at events and conferences. At the end of my presentations, I leave space for audience members to ask questions—tough questions, brave questions, you name it. The level of candor and curiosity always inspires me, and I want to share that sentiment with you. Each week I pick one question that I believe others would find most instructive and publish my response to it here.


The purpose of this weekly tradition is transparency and inclusion.

  • Transparency: a behind-the-scenes look at my day-to-day.

  • Inclusion: bringing others along on the journey.


Be Brave™

 

The Real Reason For Moms’ Labor Force Attrition


Question:


What has the pandemic taught us about working moms? What needs to be done to support them? Especially now since so many working moms left the workforce to care for their children.


Curious about something? ​Ask your question here for a chance to have it answered in an upcoming edition of Brave Souls®.


Answer:


Since the start of the pandemic we’ve been pointing fingers at the childcare dilemma as a major source of women’s attrition from the labor force. While it’s easy to blame childcare on women’s exodus, such thinking is reductive.


The real cause? We live in a society that doesn’t value genders equitably.


Exhibit A:

Women face a 4% drop in wages for every child they have, whereas men receive a 6% wage increase for having children. If we lived in a world where women weren’t penalized professionally for having children, would mothers have been the ones to leave the workplace when push came to shove during the pandemic?


Exhibit B:

Men receive promotions at a 21% greater rate than women, and the gap doubles for Black women. If we lived in a world where all genders received equitable rates of promotion, would women be stuck on the bottom rungs of the corporate ladder? Women make up 48% of entry-level workers yet only 24% of top executives.


Exhibit C:

On September 8 we recognized Moms’ Equal Pay Day, signifying that moms earn 58 cents for every dollar dads earn. Their pay gap widened by 9 cents in the past year. If we lived in a world where all caregivers received equitable pay, would women’s income be incorrectly shrugged off as secondary to men’s? (Newsflash: mom’s income is not just for purses and shoes.)


The Real Lesson The Pandemic Taught Us About Working Moms


Most of what we “learned” from the pandemic about working moms, well, we need to unlearn. Because the childcare narrative misses the point. This point is this:


Yes, we need better childcare infrastructure and paid leave protections for employees. We also need to create workplaces with equity of opportunity and equity of pay for moms. The conversation must go beyond childcare.


Four Strategic Levers We Can Pull To Show Up For Moms


1. Implement a national pay equity law. This catalytic mechanism will nip corporate inertia in the bud by creating federal reporting standards to hold companies accountable to pay equity.


2. Use advanced tech to root out bias throughout the entire employee lifecycle. Good intentions and implicit bias training alone cannot de-bias workplaces at scale.


3. Equitably skill people for the 4th Industrial Revolution. Women are over-represented in jobs at high risk of automation and underrepresented in jobs of the future, e.g. they make up only 14.2% of the cloud computing workforce.


4. Get men involved in the care economy. Men are 50% of the population but make up only 5% of the paid caregiving workforce. To reimagine the care economy, we have to stop asking women to carry the burden of labor supply in this under-resourced industry.


Curious about something? ​Ask your question here for a chance to have it answered in an upcoming edition of this newsletter.


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