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'Don't Think It's a Paradise for Women': Three Americans on the Life of Working Moms in the USA


Source: Womo

Many will say that women in the United States have more rights than anywhere else. And they will be partly right. But, like in every country, America has its own rather serious problems, and a woman’s life is far from perfect even in a “country of victorious democracy”. About the country of equal opportunities to the Ukrainian edition Womo tell Dana, Christina and Betsy.

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  • Betsy Fisher Martin, 46 years old, Washington. Political columnist, reporter, television producer, one child

How "friendly" the US is to women:

Much depends on the sphere of professional interests, the circumstances of the family's work - whether both parents work, whether they have the opportunity to take a decree and how long. In any case, this is a struggle, because as soon as you go to work, you have to pay for a daycare center, which is very expensive. Unlike Ukraine, we do not have special conditions for women in labor and the possibility of maternity leave for several years. In the United States, a paid decree lasts two to three months, then you can return to work or not, but the place is not saved. And in the event that you go to work, the child remains either with a nanny or with grandparents, if you are lucky and your parents live nearby, or they send him to kindergarten.

I was lucky because when my daughter was born, I had the opportunity to choose whether to go to work or to stay on vacation. Personally, I chose a job, as it stimulates development, and I found a balance between career and family. At that time, I became a leader, so it was easier for me to arrange everything - the work schedule was flexible, and I could, for example, go to the pediatrician with my child and there was no manager in charge of me who controlled my movements. The higher your professional position, the more flexible the schedule can be built.

I would describe myself as the “default parent”. My daughter’s father spends time with her, but when it comes to problems such as health and serious decisions that need to be made, I usually do this. Sometimes it’s stress, since both parents work, and if something happens, in most cases I quickly leave the office and solve the problem. In most cases, mothers do this for us, we have more responsibility.

Portrait of a modern American in three words:

It’s hard to identify any keywords. American women are very different. But this is good, because the environment accepts us better than 20 years ago, and more respects the choice that women make.

New trends in the United States that make women more comfortable:

A few years ago, the US government passed an act on “family medical leave,” so women now have a bit more time to care for a sick child, a newborn, and even older parents. Recently, another problem was brought up for discussion - the allocation of public funds to pay for a daycare center to make life easier for women.

  • Dana O`Mally, 33, New York. Google Account Manager, two children

How “friendly” America is to working mothers:

In the United States, being a working mother is very difficult. Legislation not only does not provide for adequate parental leave or sick leave, but corporations themselves, as well as schools and kindergarten teachers, expect the unbelievable from us. For example, in kindergarten you are terribly scolded and even fined for being late for more than 5 minutes. If you, choking on the run, all soaked run into the kindergarten on 6.07 in the morning - that's all, they incinerate you with a look: “You are a bad mother!” I know many mothers who spend all their salaries on kindergartens and nannies. The state should take care of subsidies for kindergarten and a paid decree. How can a mother return to work 6 weeks after giving birth? We need more time to recover ourselves and establish an emotional connection with the child without the stress and panic that haunt us in these short 42 days.

Working mothers are under terrible social pressure. From working mothers expect full return directly to the work itself, and then they are waiting for a "second shift" at home - household chores, raising children. We must shine at work, be present at every parental meeting, record and take children to all possible circles, sections and classes, do not forget to buy gifts for the birthday of friends of children, regularly feed, bathe children and endlessly “engage” them.

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My husband and I are both overwhelmed with work and household duties and talk to each other for 15 minutes a day, otherwise we will simply fill up the work. In the area where I work, it’s hard for mothers to continue at the same pace to advance their careers: you cannot go on long business trips and tirelessly lead clients like before or like those employees who have no children, however, children do not interfere with working fathers, they are much less likely to sacrifice career opportunities for education. I exaggerate and it sounds a little stereotyped, but I really came across this in my work.

As for social networks, in my opinion, they also put pressure on working moms. We all post idyllic pictures taken in those five minutes when our child behaves as a participant in the contest “Best Mom of the Year”, but these photos put enormous pressure on all of us. I look at my Facebook feed and also want to bake Christmas cookies with children or do charity work. But I have to go to a meeting with a client to make a big deal.

At the end of the day, a working mother feels like a failure. I often face a choice: stay in the office and finish work or leave on time and help my daughter get ready for the test. I can’t "catch it all." But all around expect this from me. Sometimes I just stick up when no one sees, because I feel infinitely guilty. But the next day I “get together” and try to do everything and do it well.

We also all know that men get bоlower salaries than women for the same job, and that in business in top management women are again fewer than men. And all these are directly consequences of gender stereotypes. At the workplace, women are expected to have certain patterns of behavior, and if women do not correspond to them, this affects their career development. For example, it is assumed that a woman should take care of everyone, and when she suddenly refuses to organize some kind of office event or to help a project colleague, her contribution to team work can be assessed much harder than her male colleagues. I often saw examples where women were not afraid to express their opinions at work and in return received negative feedback, unlike men.

Portrait of a modern American in three words:

Decisive, generous, overworked.

New trends in the United States that make women more comfortable:

Change is needed at all levels. The government should support women in the workplace through legislative initiatives regarding longer paid maternity leave. Companies should support a policy of equal treatment of men and women through the solution of the wage gap problem, diversity programs and training programs for women how to break stereotypes (even if they are only in their heads!), And for men how to stop forming expectations based on stereotypes. In addition, such a policy needs to be reinforced by the development of empathy, as well as through recognition of their own participation in this vicious circle of shifting roles that has taken shape over many years.

  • Kristina Goncharenko, 31 year, Woodberry (Minnesota) CEO Rooster Exteriors Inc., three children

How “friendly” America is to working mothers:

I am Mexican and married to a Ukrainian guy. Do not think that America is such a paradise on earth for women. We continue to fight for our rights. You are lucky if you get to college, but college and all sorts of extracurricular activities here are very expensive. Parental support is indispensable. I see life as a constant struggle for survival: at home and at work, and all because of discrimination.

Portrait of a modern American in three words:

I see that there are three types of women in America, and therefore I will probably immediately answer the question of how to describe a modern American woman. So, the first type is a successful woman: she received a diploma of higher education, she has a career and husband. She has to constantly prove to her superiors that she really is the professional who is paid the very big money. And at home, she also proves that she is an excellent mother, wife, mistress: cooking, cleaning, raising children and so on. In general, these are mothers who do everything to ensure that children are successful.

If they are divorced, then almost all the expenses for the development of children are borne by them, most fathers do not “bother” with this. American men are not great princes, nothing of the kind, you can’t believe the movies, the girl always pays for herself, and at home you also pay half: for expenses for children, for expenses at home. Like this. Many marriages break up because wives want an equal distribution of responsibilities, but husbands do not. Especially if the wife is educated and successful. Men are not taught how to handle such women.

On the subject: How women survive in the US without maternity leave

The next type is those women who failed to build a career. I’m not talking about women who decided to take care of family and home, I’m talking about those women who did not have the support or resources to get an education and get a decent position, as a result, they work for many hours for scanty money. Often they have to put up with the fact that their partner is building a career or earning more, because he can take extra hours, while automatically the household chores fall on the woman's shoulders. In American society, you can often hear the hypocritical phrase that “good marriage is team work,” in reality, everything is different. Of course, the situation of American women cannot be compared with women in the Middle East, but if you have not received a good education and are married, you will have to sacrifice your interests more than once, because your partner makes decisions for two, believing that he knows exactly how it will be better.

And the third type is a woman in transformation. I call her that because it is a matter of time: everyone will eventually want to marry a family. We are born to produce offspring and die.

New trends in the United States that make women more comfortable:

It is possible that women in the United States still have more rights than in other countries, but the struggle for equality does not stop. All these films about an ideal married life - all this is just a movie. The truth is that we do not live in a fairy tale, but everything is in our hands and we can change everything. It all starts with us mothers. It is we who must teach our daughters and sons that the future is in their hands, that they can do great things and be equal.

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