Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Ann Crittenden's "The Price of Motherhood"

Ann Crittenden is an award-winning journalist, author, and lecturer. Her latest book, If You've Raised Kids, You Can Manage Anything, received critical praise and was featured in People magazine. Her previous book, The Price of Motherhood: Why the Most Important Job in the World is Still the Least Valued, was named one of the New York Times Notable Books of the Year in 2001.

She applied the "Page 99 Test" to The Price of Motherhood and reported the following:
On page 99 of The Price of Motherhood (hardcover) I discuss a relatively unrecognized form of discrimination: discrimination against parents. Today, blatant sex discrimination is becoming less common, but we are gradually becoming aware of a more subtle form of discrimination against women and men with children. A growing mothers’ movement has documented many examples of this "family responsibility discrimination:"

* the single mother in Pennsylvania who was turned down for job after job because employers didn’t want to have to offer health insurance for her family;

* the employer who took a working mother off a career track because he assumed she wasn’t as ambitious or hard-working as another woman without kids;

* the computer store owner who fired a manager after she said she couldn’t work nights and Saturdays because she had a seven-year-old son;

* the state trooper who was let go because he asked to stay at home for a few months after his wife became disabled after child-birth.

When I wrote about this in The Price of Motherhood there were only eight states with laws specifically prohibiting discrimination against parents in the workplace. And today, six years later, nothing has changed. Except that there is now a mothers’ movement demanding that anti-discrimination laws in all states include a ban on discrimination against people with family responsibilities.

The Price of Motherhood actually played an important role in launching this new mother’s movement, by calling attention to the anachronistic situation confronting American mothers. The book shows how conscientious child-rearing makes an enormous economic and social contribution to our society. Yet this work is still invisible. Virtually every institution, from the workplace to family law to government social policy, ignores this work and in effect, values it at zero. As a result, we have a fundamental unfairness: women who raise children are more insecure economically than comparable men at every level. Women with a college degree can easily lose $1 million in lifetime earnings if they have a child. Less educated women can end up in poverty just for having children. The Price of Motherhood makes this all this clear, and shows how things can be changed.
Visit Ann Crittenden's website and read an excerpt from The Price of Motherhood.

--Marshal Zeringue