Me Too, Time's Up, What's Next? -A Reminder that Mother's in the Workplace Are Facing Discrimination
There are levels of discrimination that have surfaced to the light and movements that are rallying around these victims to help them rise above their traumas. Me Too, Time's Up, to name a few are all ways we have managed to cope and rise above the discrimination that has faced a demographic. What we've accepted as normal or given excuses to in the past, has seen its last days and it is truly time to not only acknowledge that it is happening, but also start changing the conversation.
One of the most common, yet least discussed forms of discrimination is that against mothers in the workplace. While there is no specific protection for mothers in the workplace, this would still fall under the scope of gender bias or familial obligation discrimination. The one question we have to ask is, why isn't anyone speaking up?
“Bias against mothers is one of the strongest forms of bias against women,” said Liz Morris, the deputy director of the Center for Worklife Law, a research and advocacy group that focuses on gender and racial equality in the workplace. “I think that there’s a lot of people who would agree that sexual harassment or discrimination in general are wrong who may discriminate against mothers or may accept discrimination against themselves in a way that’s really harmful.”
I had a hard time, I'll admit, speaking up. I was nervous if ever I was forced to leave early to get my son or if daycare arrangements fell through. I was afraid of disappointing my boss, my coworkers, everyone. This just mean to me that I couldn't do it all. How could I? Taking a whole day of to spend with my son because someone else couldn't watch him became a trigger for anxiety. Listening to those comments in my head,
"Are you leaving your personal life at the door? Try not to be distracted with family issues? Oh gosh let me know if you're having anymore kids so we can prepare? How will you still perform? Are you sure you want that job, it's demanding..."
All this to say, it needs to stop. Having children and being a working mother is a strength not a weakness. Does it need to be managed well keeping mom in good health? Yes of course. While many of these comments and more could fall under discrimination, but what's being done about it? Perhaps awareness needs to be raised within the workplace. The awareness that family life still goes on when mom clocks in. She might be your top performer or right hand, but she still wears the title mom. No one is questions dad's capabilities after they return to work, has anyone asked a dad at work, "are you sure you can take that project on? I know you've got kids at home"? Yes, with us mother's it is slightly different. We have maternal instincts to nurture and want to be with our children to raise them and be mindful parents, but we also have desires. We have other things that light our fire that we have every right to dive into and no amount of punishment or questioning for this fact is necessary.
Instead, we offer support, assistance, and encouragement so that she feels like it's possible for her to move forward if she desires, but also respect the decision if she decides it's not right for her. Working mother's are all in different seasons and no matter that season, employers must respect and do our best to support them while leading a team.