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The "Mommy Penalty"

I maintained the Lifestyle CEO blog from September 2005 to September 2006. I recently reviewed it for content I could share with you here. I was delighted to discover that nearly every post, including this one from September 29, 2005, is more relevant today in some ways than it was when I originally published it.


The cover story in the October 3 issue of Business Week Magazine highlights the ridiculous treadmill of the American employee. Sixty-hour work weeks, less than 7 hours of sleep a night, frantically inhaled lunches and little family time. The pay is good they say, but according to the article, people still feel like, “They work like dogs and are wasting time.” I believe that we are seeing a new and enlightened mindset where overworked employees are realizing that exchanging a life for a good salary is not all it’s cracked up to be. And no one knows that more than moms.

Of course you don’t have to be a mother to experience the tension between work and personal life. Fathers feel it, and so do men and women who are not parents. Everyone wants to enjoy life and also earn a living. But consider that studies released by Cornell University sociologists show that mothers may be discriminated against in the workplace.

The “Mommy Penalty”

That’s right, it seems that moms suffer when competing for jobs against similarly qualified fathers and childless men and women. If that’s true, it means that becoming a father can result in a generous bonus and a healthy pay raise to help provide for a growing family, while becoming a mother means you have chosen to surrender all of your professional goals and are no longer deserving of a bonus, a pay raise or a life.

What is a mom to do? Fight the good fight trying to convince others that we deserve both good pay and a good life? With my dollars, my time and until my last breath, I will support anyone who chooses to fight that battle. But I will not be on the front lines because I have chosen a different route.

The Road Less Traveled

It’s the one less traveled, at least for the time being, and it’s the one that focuses on changing myself instead of others. Maybe some day, I and others who choose this route can create mom-friendly workplaces so that our children don’t encounter what I have heard referred to as “the mommy penalty.”

Ted Got a Lifestyle!

By the way, the Business Week article concludes with the story of Ted Husted who has “reclaimed his life” by splitting his time between freelance consulting and serving as an unpaid contributor to an open-source software project. He attends his children’s weekend sporting events, lunches with his wife at least once a week, prunes the maple trees in his front yard and generally enjoys life while he also earns a living. The article doesn’t say whether he earns as much as he could working for someone else, but I don’t think it matters. He’s got a lifestyle now, and it just doesn’t get any better than that.

Question: Do you or people you know relate to Ted Husted? How do you feel about adjusting your lifestyle to perhaps earn less money, but enjoy more life?

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  • http://www.indiebusinessblog.com Donna Maria Coles Johnson

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