Why American Companies Should Start Promoting Moms

Being a Mom is freaking HARD. It's quite possibly the hardest thing I've ever done, and I'm only four months in. My experience with pregnancy (and now motherhood) has not only changed my life forever, but has also changed the way I approach tasks, both in my personal and professional lives. The day I became a mother I signed some invisible pact to take on more in one day than I ever thought possible and somehow get it all done. And I think this makes me a powerful resource to have around the office.

But the majority of America still sees motherhood as being some sort of setback to women in the workplace. In Rebecca Traister's article titled "Labor Pains" for New Republic, she notes that the struggle facing most new moms who are also trying to balance a career, is "simply the result of the way things are in a country that venerates motherhood but in practice accords it zero economic value...It makes parenting a privileged pursuit, takes women out of the workforce, and ultimately affirms public and professional life as being built for men." In fact, The New York Times found that educated women were leaving the workforce at such alarming rates that the U.S. has now fallen behind many European countries in terms of employment rates for women. They attribute this to a lack of family-friendly policies in the workplace, among other reasons.

And maybe the problem is that most American companies don't see the value in American moms. They see us as an anchor weighing them down, rather than the powerhouses that we really are. Here's why being a mom makes us more of an asset to your company:

  1. We can prioritize like champions. It's amazing what you can accomplish while a baby is sleeping. Everyday I make choices about what needs to get done and everyday the list changes. Some days it's laundry, some days it's cleaning the bathrooms, and some days it's getting a bit of writing done. The to-do list is endless and you learn very quickly that shifting your priorities easily is essential to having a successful day.

  • We don't get overwhelmed easily. If there's one thing motherhood has taught me it's how to stay calm when the world around me seems to be imploding. Baby is crying? No problem, let's sing a calm song to try to make her relax. Shocked out of a deep sleep by a baby who needs you? Learn to navigate in the dark. Being a parent is all about adapting to the needs of your child and not letting your frustration get the best of you. Doesn't thriving in an office environment require the same?
  • We don't shy away from hard work. A baby is a constant challenge because their needs change almost everyday. Aside from the challenges that come along with sleep disruption, poopy diapers, and the inability to shower or eat, we also seem to be doing the majority of the housework. A recent study by the Working Mother Research Institute found that 79 percent of working mothers are responsible for the laundry and twice as likely as dads to cook dinner every night. There's certainly no rest for the weary.
  • We can multitask like none other. Many of the mamas that I have met are incredible multitaskers -- they can feed their babies while checking their email or help their kids with homework while also making dinner (see above). According to Shira Offer, who was the lead researcher on a study published in the American Sociological Review, the data "provide[s] support for the popular notion that women are the ultimate multitaskers."
  • Moms never give up. Mothers are very determined people, and when it comes to solving problems, they won't quit until they are satisfied with the solution. My doctor once told me a story about a mom who brought her baby into his office, convinced that there was something wrong with his ear. After a thorough inspection, the doctor found nothing wrong. But again, the Mom came back the next day, insisting that the baby was having ear problems, and again, the doctor sent her home. On the third day, she ended up taking the baby to CHOP, where they found a node behind his left ear that had to be removed. Doctors may be experts, but no one can stop a mom on a mission. If you want to get something done, give it to a busy mom.
  • In 2010, the Wall Street Journal published an article that drew attention to the fact that all but two of the female CEOs at big U.S. businesses were also mothers. It's not a coincidence; moms can handle the big challenges that come their way, whether at home or in the office. Maybe it's time we stop punishing women in the workplace for becoming parents and start rewarding them instead.

    To weigh in on the conversation, tweet at me @hyoungcreative with the #momboss.