U.S. News & World Report: New Mommy Track Blends Work and Home.
There is a mom in a pink sweater holding a cute-as-a-button child who is playing with her necklace (and who hopefully didn’t gag her mother with the necklace after the snapshot was taken). The bold headline over the mom’s shoulder: “The New Mommy Track: More Mothers are Finding Smart Ways to Blend Work and Family. How You Can, Too.” The word “New” is in pink. The last line encouraging us moms that we can do the smart blending thing if only we set our minds to it is highlighted in white.
Inside the September 3 issue of U.S. News & World Report are more adorable photos, including one where you can see a mom sitting at a keyboard only from the chest down, with her toddler son standing beside her, binky and bottle next to the keyboard. Later, we see that same mom one-handedly using the computer while cradling a baby in the other arm, her toddler son playing at a train table in the background. That photo is next to a larger one of the mom from the magazine cover making cookies with her daughter at the mom’s bakery.
The headlines, like the photos, offer wholesome, tantalizing promises. Over the main story, there’s this headline: “More mothers win flextime at work, and hubbies’ help (really!) at home.” Next is a brief piece: “The Age of the ‘Alpha Mom:’ A new wave of advertising is showing women in control.” That’s followed by another short article: “How Moms Get on Track: You’ll need to pick jobs carefully, pay dues, then negotiate.” The collection of U.S. News stories focuses on what the magazine describes as: “. . . [A] new generation of American mothers who are rejecting the ‘superwoman’ image from the 1980s as well as the ‘soccer mom’ stereotype from the 1990s. Mothers today are more likely to negotiate flexible schedules at work and demand fuller participation of fathers in child-raising than previous generations did, giving them more time to pursue their own careers and interests.”
However, like a wet blanket in this six-page spread of mommy-power goodness and can-do spirit is this enlarged quote, which also has some words highlighted in pink: “Only 3% of companies let most employees work part of the week at home sometimes.”
There it is.
Therein lies the rub.
I’m not trying to sound like a negative Nelly. I like the “atta-girl” boost one gets from reading articles about triumphant women as much as the next gal. I adore seeing positive profiles of strong, female role models whose lives represent myriad work-life choices. I think it’s fantastic to highlight companies whose owners actually believe that if you stick by a woman employee through her childbearing years and the challenging-yet-fleeting period of early parenthood, she’ll likely reward you with loyalty and cut your turnover costs. And perhaps, by focusing on pro-family work arrangements, other business owners might be tempted to try out similar flextime arrangements with their employees.