Saturday Readings & Viewings

I spent some time reading various articles on the internet today, and thought I’d share the interesting ones with my readers.

    Voting for Obama on the WFP Line

    Voting for Obama on the WFP Line

  • Lifestyles of the Rich and Infamous – Those AIG executives receiving bonuses whose names were leaked are receiving visitors – some organized by the CT Working Families Party.  Speaking of WFP – I am an e-active member of the NY Working Families Party – I even voted for Obama in the WFP column, as did nearly 160,000 other New Yorkers.
  • Fashion designers are having a tough time figuring out what fashions to push during these tough economic times. Some have tried looks reminiscent of the Great Depression, but that didn’t turn out too well.
  • Obama on Jay Leno

    Obama on Jay Leno

  • After a nice walk and lunch with Husband, I was given homework to watch Obama on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.  So I accessed it on the web – the full interview is available on  I loved what he had to say about “commen sense regulations” and making sure the the average consumer and the average taxpayer aren’t taken advantage of.  I especially loved what he said about the pseudo-growth in the financial sector, and the real steady growth we need instead:

    And what we need is steady growth; we need young people, instead of — a smart kid coming out of school, instead of wanting to be an investment banker, we need them to decide they want to be an engineer, they want to be a scientist, they want to be a doctor or a teacher.

    And if we’re rewarding those kinds of things that actually contribute to making things and making people’s lives better, that’s going to put our economy on solid footing. We won’t have this kind of bubble-and-bust economy that we’ve gotten so caught up in for the last several years.

    That spoke to me so strongly, as a recent graduate with an excellent NYC-based degree in chemical engineering, I believe I could have easily gone straight into the financial sector and made 6 figures right out of school. I know a number of people who did. I chose, instead, to be a research scientist, and more recently to move to environmental engineering. I did this because I care about a lot more than just money, but I often felt alone in my decisions. I believe we need a system that rewards the agents who do positive things for society, not just the people who can push around numbers all day on Wall Street. Apparently Obama believes this too, and it makes me feel so optimistic and confident in our country’s current leadership.

  • On Thursday First Lady Obama celebrated Women’s History Month by bringing together inspiring women leaders and sending them out to disadvantaged schools to share their stories.  The First Lady herself visited Anacostia:
    Michelle Obama hopes to inspire in celebration of Womens History Month

    Michelle Obama hopes to inspire in celebration of Women's History Month

    At Anacostia High School, the site of a violent melee in November that sent several young people to the hospital with stab wounds, Mrs. Obama gave hugs, slapped knees and sat down in a semi-circle with 13 students, who were all juniors and seniors. (All but three were girls.)

    And when one girl asked, “How you get where you are now?” the first lady told her story.

    “There’s no magic to being here,’’ Mrs. Obama said. “What I want you to know is that my parents were working class people.”

  • Eco-Button sends your computer to sleep


  • Buying Green: 9 Environmentally Inventive Products.  I think I’d like an eco-button to put my computer to sleep easily and awake it quickly.
  • The House approved a 90% tax on bonuses for bailed out firms.  This is an interesting way of getting the money back and restricted executive pay and bonuses, but I’m glad they found a way to do so.

    Its backers said the companies had forced Congress to act by inexplicably handing out generous rewards to employees after tapping taxpayer funds to survive an economic calamity brought on by irresponsible and risky executive decisions.

  • Battlestar Galactica

    Battlestar Galactica

  • Finally, I’m really looking forward to watching the final episode of Battlestar Galactica later today.  Husband and I watch all of our tv using the internet, so our viewing party will be tonight instead of last night.
  • Women’s Equality Day

    Today is Women’s Equality Day, marking the day a mere 88 years ago that women won the right to vote in the US. Here’s a bit about Women’s Equality Day:

    At the behest of Rep. Bella Abzug (D-NY), in 1971 the U.S. Congress designated August 26 as “Women’s Equality Day.”

    The date was selected to commemorate the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote. This was the culmination of a massive, peaceful civil rights movement by women that had its formal beginnings in 1848 at the world’s first women’s rights convention, in Seneca Falls, New York.

    The observance of Women’s Equality Day not only commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment, but also calls attention to women’s continuing efforts toward full equality. Workplaces, libraries, organizations, and public facilities now participate with Women’s Equality Day programs, displays, video showings, or other activities.

    As long as we’re on the topic of women’s equality, I want to comment on Michelle Obama’s speech last night at the DNC.  I found it really moving and I thought she did a really good job and showed a lot of passion.  If you haven’t seen it, you can go watch it here.  This morning I read the New York Times article “Michelle Obama, Reluctant No More,” and I have to say I was not that happy with it.  It was mostly subtle wording choices and ordering of the information the author chose to include, but I felt like the article highlighted more about what she didn’t like about campaigning and her reservations about her husband running for president than it highlighted how she did choose a life in public service, how she made it so far from such humble, but thoroughly American, roots, and how she is such a strong female role model.

    Women leave work because of the economy just like men

    Earlier this decade there were many news articles and attention given to moms “opting out,” and the suggestion was that there was a new movement for women to stay at home for purposes of raising children and running households. I, for one, totally respect a woman’s right to choose what type of career she wants, be it in a paying job or an unpaid job as household manager and parent, but I still was a bit dismayed by all of these reports. Well, new evidence suggests that it’s the economy, and not a cultural swing towards stay-at-home-motherhood, that has led to decreased numbers of women in the workforce.

    An article in the NYTimes today, Poor Economy Slows Women in Workplace, cites a congressional study and some economists in saying that:

    After moving into virtually every occupation, women are being afflicted on a large scale by the same troubles as men: downturns, layoffs, outsourcing, stagnant wages or the discouraging prospect of an outright pay cut. And they are responding as men have, by dropping out or disappearing for awhile.

    “When we saw women starting to drop out in the early part of this decade, we thought it was the motherhood movement, women staying home to raise their kids,” Heather Boushey, a senior economist at the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, which did the Congressional study, said in an interview. “We did not think it was the economy, but when we looked into it, we realized that it was.”

    There’s also evidence that the downturn in the past few years has hit women harder:

    Pay is no longer rising smartly for women in the key 25-to-54 age group. Just the opposite, the median pay — the point where half make more and half less — has fallen in recent years, to $14.84 an hour in 2007 from $15.04 in 2004, adjusted for inflation, according to the Economic Policy Institute. (The similar wage for men today is two dollars more.)

    I can’t help but think of the phrase that was tried in a previous election year: It’s the economy, stupid.

    More on shared parenting

    I wrote this in response to a comment on a post I wrote a while ago about shared parenting, and then I saved it as a draft to come back and edit, and promptly forgot about it. Oops.

    So the commenter wrote that he worked and his wife stayed home because it was what each did best:

    Equal parenting is fine with us if we found ourselves one day to be equally matched. But I make 10 times as much as what my wife can do in her best year, and my wife has a much bigger gas tank for the energy in needing to handle children. We’ve tried to be equal, but have found its best to pull the most from our strengths and split up the rest.

    I began writing a response but I decided I’d rather post about the rest of my thoughts on the article.

    Even in sharing it all, Husband and I do the same thing…but we happen to be much more evenly matched. So the things we defer to each other on are smaller, more in the details – like the Vachons, I think. He takes the heavy laundry in the pushcart down the stairs and to the laundrymat and picks it up the next day, lugging it up the stairs. I happen to wash the dishes. There are definitely things that happen to fall along the “standard” lines, but we’ve talked about all of it and whether we want to do this or that and to what standards, and everything was a mutual decision. And I think that’s what makes our marriage so solid, even if the conversation can sometimes be a tad awkward (“It really made me feel bad when …”).

    Regarding parenting, in my opinion “equally” shared parenting isn’t as much about the “equally” part as it is about the sharing – about both parents putting time into it and really being there for their kids. If you share it, then even if you work a full-time job and your spouse stays at home, you spend a significant amount of time with your kids while you are there, and you recognize that your spouse needs a break too. You do things your way when you’re with the kids, but you’re with them enough that you have a way down pat and you know what to expect. To me that’s the important part.

    But I also think one of the points of the article might be that these people set different priorities. If you wanted to, you could both choose to live a little less luxuriously in terms of material wealth and comfort, take a pay cut, and have more time at home with your family. This could be working part-time or this could be a flexible or reduced hours schedule, or you might choose to stay home completely. But this is a choice that these people are making, to take less pay in order to both be fully there with their family and with their children. And it’s a choice that I’m passionate about, that I think needs to be available for parents of any gender if we are ever to truly move into a “post-feminist” era.

    Birthing, American style

    I recently watched The Business of Being Born, a documentary I got from Netflix. This was very interesting not just in an “I love anything related to babies” way but also in a feminist way. Despite my initial skepticism of the gravity of anything produced by Ricki Lake, I found the documentary worth watching. It contained some great information about birthing practices in the US.

    One part that did strike a cord with me is that I have pretty much been afraid of giving birth, of being in labor, for my entire life, and apparently I’m not alone. I’m realizing this is largely because of the way that birth is portrayed in the movies and on tv. For me, I also never heard glowing birth stories from my mom – it sounded much more like an unfun experience that resulted in a very worthwhile outcome – a baby. My mother has two children (my older brother and me), and both were born via c-section. I might feel differently about it if the adult women around me had described births as “beautiful,” which is how the mom I now babysit for describes the home birth of her son earlier this year – and with feeling, like she really treasures the experience.

    The film showed many powerful images of births in America both a century ago and now. On the one hand, the film showed modern women who gave birth at home, with the assistance of a midwife and their spouses and children, all of whom were close yet comfortable. On the other hand, the film showed doctors who appeared primarily concerned with getting the patients in and out of the hospital in a timely manner, and whose patients appeared, on-film, to be powerless to stop not just pain medications but also labor inducing medications, which have been shown to lead to a higher number of c-sections. At the home births, the moms looked like they were in lots of pain, but that they had support and the comfort of choosing what position to be in and possibly in a tub if they choose. At the hospital births, many of the moms looked both worn-out and uncomfortable, laying on their backs in a skimpy hospital gown. It certainly wasn’t hard to watch the mothers and know which situation seemed like a more comfortable, loving, bonding experience for the birth of a child, although I was left wondering more about birthing centers, which seem like they might be the best of both worlds.

    The Huffington Post featured a recent article on the AMA’s response to the documentary:

    Ladies, the physicians of America have issued their decree: they don’t want you having your babies at home with midwives.

    We can’t imagine why not. Study upon study have shown that planning a home birth with a trained midwife is a great choice if you want to avoid unnecessary medical intervention. Midwives are experts in supporting the physiological birth process: monitoring you and your baby during labor, helping you into positions that help labor progress, protecting your pelvic parts from damage while you push, and “catching” the baby from the position that’s most effective and comfortable for you — hands and knees, squatting, even standing — not the position most comfortable for her.

    When healthy women are supported this way, 95% give birth vaginally, with hardly any intervention.

    And yet, the American Medical Association doesn’t see the point.

    Although I can easily imagine wanting an epidural or some type of painkiller, I wouldn’t want an episiotomy, inducing drug like pitocin, or a c-section unless it was medically necessary. Unfortunately, even just taking an epidural can make you more likely to need any/all of those three. And the c-section and episiotomy both feature weeks to months of recovery which can inhibit your opportunities for baby bonding and for sexual relations with your husband. (Months of sex being painful while the episiotomy heals? No thanks!)

    And the information suggests that for women with a low-risk pregnancy, they’ll have a lower incidence of these procedures being performed if they birth at home with a midwife. A study published in 2005 concludes:

    Planned home birth for low risk women in North America using certified professional midwives was associated with lower rates of medical intervention but similar intrapartum and neonatal mortality to that of low risk hospital births in the United States.

    And then there’s this part, from the blog by the author of the book Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care:

    Pitocin, given to more than half of women during labor, is the synthetic preparation of the hormone oxytocin, the driving force of labor that causes the uterus to contract. You know the soft side of oxytocin already: it floods your body during orgasm, when you fall in love, when you get close to a friend, even when you sit down to a shared meal. It is the hormone of connection, closeness — love. And when women give birth, they get the biggest helping of oxytocin that humans ever experience. A “love high,” if you will.

    Pitocin replicates oxytocin’s muscle, producing strong uterine contractions, but it does not pass to the brain. You don’t get the warm and fuzzies with the pharmaceutical version. Furthermore, it shuts down your body’s own oxytocin production. That means that when you get Pitocin in your IV — whether you’re being induced or just “augmented” — you’re missing out on the natural oxy-rush.

    If any woman is going to go through labor, it certainly sounds like it’d be a lot more enjoyable of an experience with the natural oxytocin rushing through your body and priming you to bond with your baby. Seriously. The most oxytocin humans ever experience? Where do I sign up?!

    So, for the moms among my readers – what kind of birth did you have, and how do you feel about the experience?

    Wonder Woman on DVD

    As part of my work with T!, I keep up to date on current happenings in the comics, manga, graphic novel, and related pop culture world. In particular, I enjoy reading Wonder Woman comics, and so I was pleased to read today that DC is creating a Wonder Woman movie. I am a bit disappointed that it’s direct to DVD, but it’s an animated movie and despite the fact that she’s one of their big 3 characters, maybe she doesn’t have enough of a following to merit a theater release? Anyhow, the movie will feature Keri Russell and Alfred Molina as voice actors, both people who’s work I respect. So I’m definitely looking forward to it. But I’ll have to wait until Spring 2009!

    Books for and about women in science and academia

    I came across these through a commenter, Emily, on the May Scientiae Carnival. Emily’s book, Motherhood, the Elephant in the Laboratory: Women Scientists Speak Out, came out recently. She’s set up a blog where she hopes to encourage discussion about how we combine motherhood and science. I haven’t read the book yet myself, but once things settle down and we have some meager amounts of cash, I’ll probably go right out and get it!

    Through Emily’s blog I also found out about this book: Mama, PhD: Women Write About Motherhood and Academic Life. It will be released later this year and looks like a promising collection of essays about combining motherhood and academia. This book also has an accompanying blog at

    Cat Wisdom: Yes We Can!

    I think it’s time for a new quote. And since Barack and Hillary have been on my mind a lot (Husband and I spend a good amount of time talking about politics and researching information about the candidates), I wanted to share this quote from the debate. Husband and I are very, very enthusiastic about the election this year…for a long time I was feeling jaded and apathetic, like it didn’t matter, it would be more of the same and the democrat wouldn’t be progressive enough to get done what we wanted. But that’s changed. There’s a real atmosphere of enthusiasm, of inspiration and motivation, of the feeling that we CAN do these things. We can make the changes and move in the direction we want. Of course I realize there’s still going to be the slow pace of change overall – it takes generations for opinions to change drastically, for society to really strive towards equality. But here, now, is the time, the time for a major stride forward. The time for the first black or female president of the US! That’s exciting on its own, but what’s also exciting is the policies that they’re advocating are more liberal than I ever would have thought possible even a year ago. Back when Sicko came out, I thought a national debate on universal health care was out of our reach. And yet here we are, with both candidates making major promises to reform the health care system.

    For much of my life I’ve dreamed about what it would have been like to live through the 1960s and 1970s in America. The civil rights movement, the second wave of feminism, Vietnam war protests…Martin Luther King, Gloria Steinem, JFK…hippies, woodstock, the early days of Bob Dylan. Now, major players from that era are coming out and endorsing Obama. Ted Kennedy is having a great time on the campaign trail for Obama, and as you watch the videos you can see the enthusiasm in the crowd. People are coming together around hope! JFK’s daughter Caroline Kennedy has come out to endorse Obama, saying “I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.” Even the Grateful Dead are reuniting to play a benefit concert for Obama. And current artists are coming out to fight for him:

    Celebrity-filled music videos have been used to support many social movements, from famine relief for Africa, to support for American farmers, to opposition to apartheid in South Africa.

    But rarely have celebrities and musicians banded together to create new music in the heat of a presidential campaign.

    The Black Eyed Peas’ frontman, songwriter and producer known as, along with director and filmmaker Jesse Dylan, son of another socially active musician, Bob Dylan, released a new song Friday that attempts to do just that.

    I wanted to embed the video but I seem to be having some difficulty. Watch it here.

    There’s so much excitement in the air. Last week’s debate made me proud and happy to be a part of this, which is a feeling I hadn’t had in a long time – it seemed so historic, to watch a woman and a black man as the only two candidates left vying for the democratic presidential nomination, and in a year where there’s a good chance that he or she will become the next President of the United States. One thing in particular that made Husband and I happy was this statement of Obama’s:

    So the question is can we restore a sense of balance to our economy and make sure that those of us who are blessed and fortunate and have thrived in this economy, in this global economy, that we can afford to pay a little bit more so that that child in east Los Angeles who is in a crumbling school, with teachers that are having to dig into their own pockets for school supplies, that they are having a chance at the American dream, as well.

    So, finally, here is the new cat wisdom quote, from the speech that inspired the Yes We Can video:

    We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics…they will only grow louder and more dissonant ……….. We’ve been asked to pause for a reality check. We’ve been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope.

    But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.

    Now the hopes of the little girl who goes to a crumbling school in Dillon are the same as the dreams of the boy who learns on the streets of LA; we will remember that there is something happening in America; that we are not as divided as our politics suggests; that we are one people; we are one nation; and together, we will begin the next great chapter in the American story with three words that will ring from coast to coast; from sea to shining sea —

    Yes. We. Can.

    ~Barack Obama

    Splitting up home chores

    A friend of mine was recently talking about how she splits up various household chores with her husband, and so I’ve been thinking about it myself. I thought I’d share it here because it’s interesting to me how different things work for different people. To give you an idea of how long we’ve been working on our own balance of chores: Husband and I have been living together for 3.5 years but have only had our own apartment and the chores that go with that for 2 and a half years. And we’ve been married for a year and change :-D.

    For Husband and I, it’s always a bit hard to tell if we’re splitting work equally, because we both tend to consider not only effort but pleasure or nuisance level as well, and our individual perceptions of that are not straightforward. So instead of just saying “You spend x hours and I spend y hours and they’re even (or not)” we look at how much we like or dislike those hours.

    With cleaning, this has led to an imbalance in hours spent because Husband has a much lower cleanliness threshold than I do. It’s hard to make him clean a room constantly and in a timely manner when I can tell the disorderliness doesn’t disturb him at all. So I settle for asking him to help clean up sometimes, when it reaches a level that I dislike, and he doesn’t mind, although sometimes he’ll ask to do it later in the day. It’s like that for lots of chores – I can get him to split cleaning the dishes (no dishwasher) with me, but it requires that I not mind them sitting there for up to a day. Sometimes, I just feel like I don’t mind it as much – I don’t always see it as a nuisance (sometimes I even find it a bit relaxing), so why should I make him do it when it’s clear he really dislikes it? So I guess we maybe split the dishes like 10% him 90% me in the long run, unless I’m going through a stressful time and ask him to help with it more.

    However, he does help out with things that he doesn’t enjoy doing. We don’t have laundry in our building so we drop it off a few blocks away and pick it up the next day or two. We agree for him to do it because neither of us likes it but it requires lugging a heavy cart up two flights of stairs on the way back.  He always makes the phone calls (deliveries, bill pay issues, troubleshooting, etc) and takes the trash out (down the stairs and around the building into the alley…fun).

    He never cooks dinner for us both (maybe once a year he’ll make a tortilla pizza that he gets into), but I don’t cook when I don’t want to. He either makes himself something simple (his menu options are usually: ravioli; beans, cheese, tortillas; cereal and milk) or orders food. He’s a creature of habit so this is good enough for him. He never asks me what’s for dinner, and genuinely treats it as a special thing when I do make dinner, even when I do it as often as 2 or 3 times a week. But the rest of the time we just take care of ourselves for food. Sometimes if he wants something and I only sort of want it, I’ll agree to make it if he keeps me company in the kitchen, but he doesn’t help cook. We just talk while I do the work.

    So our cake-cutting algorithm has led us to this, for most household chores: It likely won’t get done if I don’t ask for it to be done. Sometimes it’s done better and faster if I do it myself (cleaning bathroom, floors, dishes; cooking). But, he always acknowledges the work that I do, and would never, ever ask me to do any of it because he wanted it done. He says thanks when I do different things around the house, and I make sure to do the same for him, even when they’re small things. (i.e. Thanks sweetie for remembering to refill the ice cube trays!) This definitely helps us to avoid feeling unappreciated.

    My point is, if you just look at what he does and what I do with regards to cooking and cleaning, it would seem uneven. But, we talk about it often enough, and he takes on some chores I don’t enjoy and runs various errands for us both. We’ve tried out arrangements where he did higher amounts of housework, but I was constantly being the household manager and it just didn’t feel right to me because it was adding stress. He always appreciates when I do do things and never minds or asks about them when I don’t do them, so up to now, this has worked for me.

    A big thing is we don’t have kids yet, so who knows what will happen then?!

    What is your household chore split up like, or if you live alone, what would you think is acceptable?

    Maternal Profiling

    I wanted to share this, which was sent to me by MomsRising. This form of discrimination is one of the gender related discriminations that I see most strongly in the environment around me – I’m glad it’s finally getting some attention.

    Maternal Profiling: A New York Times Buzzword

    Written by Mary Olivella, Joan Blades, and Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner

    Every once in a while a word or phrase is introduced into the lexicon that sheds light on a widespread practice which hasn’t yet entered the national consciousness. These phrases take hold because we need them.

    A few days ago, the New York Times listed a sampling of 2007’s newly coined buzzwords – words “that endured long enough to find a place in the national conversation.” Maternal Profiling was one of these. The New York Times defined it as:

    “Employment discrimination against a woman who has, or will have, children. The term has been popularized by members of MomsRising, an advocacy group promoting the rights of mothers in the workplace.”

    Credit is due to Cooper Monroe from who coined the phrase to describe the profound bias mothers face in the workplace. The phrase has struck a cord at a broader level for all mothers who feel pegged and discriminated against whether in the labor force or as stay-at-home moms.

    Maternal profiling is a term being used by the more than 140,000 (and growing) activists who are bringing the concept into the public consciousness.

    Although seldom discussed until fairly recently, maternal profiling is a significant and shared problem which negatively impacts vast numbers of women, particularly since a full 82% of American women become mothers by the time they are 44 years old.

    The workplace impacts of maternal profiling are jaw dropping, especially given that three-quarters of American mothers are now in the workforce. In fact, the American Journal of Sociology recently reported a study which found that mothers are 79% less likely to be hired than non-mothers with equal resumes and job experiences.

    Mothers also face steep wage hits and unequal wages for equal work. One study found that women without children make 90 cents to a man’s dollar, but women with children make only 73 cents to a man’s dollar. And single mothers make about 60 cents to a man’s dollar.

    Even in well-paid positions, mothers face discrimination. A Cornell University study found that mothers were offered $11,000 less in starting pay than non-mothers with the same resumes and job experience, while fathers were offered $6,000 more in starting pay.

    That same study also found that mothers were held to harsher work standards than non-mothers and were taken off the management track for reasons that were not justifiable when compared to the behavior of other workers.

    The dirty little secret of the American workplace is that maternal profiling is alive and well and has been for a very long time. We just didn’t have words to label this form of discrimination.

    The repercussions of this discrimination are far reaching and they are intricately linked with issues of poverty, a deficit of women in leadership positions, and the future of our country’s children.

    A quarter of American families with children under six are living in poverty. Having a baby has been documented as a leading cause of “poverty spells” in our country — a time when income dips below what is needed for basic living expenses such as food and rent.

    Right now, the vast majority of workplaces are still structured from the era when it was assumed that there was a wife at home full-time with the children–even though this has never been the case for many low-income families. The majority of women, of mothers, are in the workplace to stay now—and it increasingly takes two incomes to support a family.

    The good news is that we know how to narrow these wage gaps and how to stop maternal profiling. Countries with family-friendly policies (such as paid family leave after the birth of a child and subsidized childcare) don’t have the same degree of maternal wage hits as we do here.

    But we have work to do. It’s time to catch up. The United States lags far behind other countries when it comes to supporting families. For instance, Harvard researchers studied over 170 countries and found that the United States was one of only four nations without some form of national paid leave for new mothers. (The others were Liberia, Papua New Guinea and Swaziland.)

    Unfortunately, so far only one state in our nation, California, provides for paid parental leave though Washington State will follow soon. The lack of paid family leave often causes parents to either quit much-needed jobs to care for their newborn (and thus lose their job-linked healthcare coverage), or else the financial hardship of living without paid leave drives women back to work earlier than they would have chosen. Yet when parents return to work, they face a chaotic and costly childcare system where the cost of care for two children can easily be upwards of $20,000 per year.

    Then there’s the ever present question of what to do if you, or your child, gets sick. The absence of policies supporting a minimum number of paid sick days can force parents to choose between leaving a sick child at home alone, or staying home to care for their child and consequently losing income or possibly being fired. And, here too we lag behind other nations. Looking at the twenty countries with the top economies in the world, the United States is the only one that does not have a national minimum standard for paid sick days.

    Given that we lag behind on family-friendly programs, it is not surprising that we also lag behind on the health of our children. Although we spend more per capita than any other country on healthcare, the United States is ranked a low 37th out of all the nations in respect to childhood mortality. International studies have shown that paid family leave policies decrease infant mortality by an impressive 25%.

    All of the above is compounded by the fact that one in eight American children doesn’t have any health care coverage at all. (This is yet another area where we lag behind: The United States is the only industrialized nation which doesn’t have some form of universal health coverage).

    It’s easy to see how having a baby in a nation without support for families could cause a downward financial spiral that lasts a lifetime—and how a lifetime of maternal discrimination can create a vicious cycle for the next generation.

    We can solve these problems. We can end maternal profiling. American mothers and families are struggling, not because of an epidemic of personal failings, but because we need changes in our national policies, our workplaces, and our culture to reflect that women are in the workplace to stay and that the majority of them have children.

    Women across the socioeconomic spectrum, and across the diverse backgrounds of all American families, are negatively impacted by maternal profiling. They (and many men) are becoming progressively more vocal about the need for our country to create family-friendly policies.

    Another related phrase, “family responsibilities discrimination,” has been popularized by legal scholars such as Joan Williams to describe discrimination against employees who have care giving responsibilities. The Center for WorkLife Law has seen a 400% increase is such cases filed during 1996-2005 over the previous decade. was launched in 2006 to offer mothers and others an opportunity to collect and amplify our voices in order to bring about a cultural shift and policy changes in how our country treats mothers.

    We can take the next step towards gender equity by ending maternal discrimination and by building a family-friendly America where having children does not create economic disparities for women. Just as the term sexual harassment transformed American workplaces, maternal profiling can contribute to creating workplaces that do not discriminate against mothers and other caregivers.

    Maternal profiling – it’s as bad as it sounds. Let’s get rid of it.