Moms Rising is an advocacy group that promotes more family-friendly policies. Their site contains some sobering statistics about balancing childrearing and working in the United States.
- 51% of new mothers lack any paid leave — so some take unpaid leave, some quit, some even lose their jobs.
- The U.S is one of only 4 countries that doesn’t require paid leave for new mothers — the others are Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, and Lesotho.
- Paid family leave has been shown to reduce infant mortality by as much as 20% (and the U.S. ranks a low 37th of all countries in infant mortality).
I’ve been researching parental leave policies for faculty at Boston University and Boston Medical Center. Female faculty here at least have the benefit of six or eight weeks of paid leave after childbirth, but additional time off is unpaid or taken from vacation or sick leave.
In the talk about work/life balance, the onus always seems to be on the individual to become more adept at juggling commitments. Some of the hurdles, however, are structural, and only changes in institutional policies can make it easier for workers to have fulfilling professional and personal lives.