Some good news was released from the mommy war front last week. Though The Today Show and Good Morning America frequently fill time by throwing stay-at-home mothers and working moms into the ring to duke it out for their respective sides, a new Pew poll shows that they have more in common than television producers give them credit for. Namely, that neither group wants to work full-time.
Only 21 percent of working mothers report a preference for a 40+-hour work week, while only 16 percent of at-home moms say the same. Half of all mothers favor dropping out of the labor market altogether. These numbers pose a problem for feminists who spent the last few years arguing that the opt-out revolution is nothing more than a figment of the media’s imagination.
After peaking in the mid 90s, the percentage of married mothers in the workforce has consistently inched backwards. Rather than admit the obvious, that women increasingly favor cutting back their careers when their children are young, some feminists are employing their own brand of voodoo economics. Women aren’t opting out, they’re being pushed out, they say.
The Center for Economic Policy Research's Heather Boushey flatly denies that the decline in mothers with full-time jobs has anything to do children, claiming that it more a reflection of a post-9/11 economy that left mothers who wanted work unable to find it. “Higher job losses in the recession of the early 2000s have had the effect of making it appear that women—and especially women with children—are opting out of employment,” she claims, telling the New York Times a mere year ago, "Women did not opt out of the labor force because of the kids."
But now the unemployment rate is 4.5 percent, a near six-year low and lower than at any point during 1997 when the involvement of mothers in the workforce was at its highest. Job growth is also strong, with employers in major sectors like the healthcare and education fields reporting aggressive recruitment efforts at all levels. Large companies like Goldman-Sachs, IBM, and Pricewaterhouse among others are responding specifically to the mommy brain-drain, implementing flextime and generous leave programs designed to lure talent from the rich stay-at-home pool back to the office.
Megan Basham is the author of Beside Every Successful Man: A Woman's Guide To Having It All
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