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blogging on high-commitment workplaces

Heavy Lifting, Part II: Discrimination Against Mothers is the Strongest Form of Gender Bias

co-written with Rachel Dempsey

In the last post, we talked about the problem of pregnancy discrimination against women in hourly jobs – cases where mothers were refused simple accommodations that would help them have healthy pregnancies. Discrimination against pregnant women and mothers is a huge problem for working-class women, for whom a single missed day at work could mean that they lose both their jobs and the ability to support their families.

A Day in the Life of a Working Mom

Hello CustomFitWorkplace followers! So many of you enjoyed the CT Working Moms recent series about toxins that I want to share our latest series with you, A Day in the Life of a Working Mom (the brain child of our blogger Christa). Each day for the next 2 weeks one of our bloggers will take you through her typical day. Today we are on day three! My day was yesterday so I posted it below for you. What’s your typical day as a working mom like? Let us know and follow along!


Good morning all! I’m happy to share what a typical day in my life is like although I admit that towards the end of the day, I was too tired to take lots of photos! So, I’ll have to walk you through it mostly with words

Advice You Will Never Hear From a Career Counselor

Almost two years ago, I wrote my first blog post. As soon as it went live, I thought, I have quite possibly just ruined my entire life.

This was about a year after I went home sick from my job and then never went back. The whole experience still felt painfully raw. I was filled with shame for letting people down, for abandoning the career I’d worked so hard at. I didn’t know how to explain the fact that I was so completely burned out that it wasn’t a choice to stop working, it was a physical necessity. Like most professional women, I had always taken great pains to appear confident, together, in control, and I didn’t know where to begin with the truth. Instead I told people that I was “just really exhausted,” as if I needed a lot of sleep, not a year of medication and intense therapy.

On Women and Guilt

Another smart post from our friends at Role/Reboot. -Eds.

I’m on the board of a small, parenting-related nonprofit organization, a board comprised of smart, thoughtful women who are mostly mothers of small children (and one dad, though our father pool is growing). In addition to our full-time parenting jobs, pretty much all of us have professional jobs, or are students. We’re all juggling a lot of balls, and we all take on this additional volunteer job as board members because we believe that the work of this organization is world-changing.

Photo credit garryknight/Flickr



Recently, we’ve endured a spate of board resignations. Each ex-member articulated a variant on the same theme, something to the effect of:

“Snowtober” Highlights the Importance of Family-Friendly Workplace Policies

Not that I needed another reason to be grateful for many of the workplace benefits my current employer provides but I can’t help but be incredibly thankful that during Connecticut’s “snowtober” as it’s being called, my employer has allowed several of her employees the ability to work from home, be flexible with our work hours and has even said we can bring our children into the office if need be.

If you haven’t heard, Connecticut (and surrounding states), got hit hard by a snow storm right before Halloween. Most of the state has been without power for 7 days now, and our neighborhoods look like a tornado blew through and knocked all the trees (and power lines) down. Considering it’s hovering around 20-30 degrees at night, the fact that we have no heat in our home means I’m camped out at my parents’ house, who fortunately do have power and heat. I’m even more fortunate that I’m allowed to work remotely until power is restored in my area.

Have Work/Life Fit Questions? Meet the Joans!

Two of our favorite Joans (work/life fit experts!) will be speaking in the Bay Area about how both employers and employees benefit when employers make it easier for worker’s to meet their responsibilities both at work and outside of work.

• Joan Blades is the cofounder and president of MomsRising, and recently coauthored The Custom-Fit Workplace: Choose When Where and How to Work and Boost Your Bottom Line, which shows employees and business owners ways to make the workplace more nimble, trust-based, profitable and happy –and on Thursday, July 14th she’s bringing her custom fit work savvy to downtown Berkeley where she will be speaking, taking your questions, and signing books! (Details below)

• Joan Williams is doing a presentation on work/life fit next week, July 18th, in San Francisco at the Conference for Work Life Fit for Hourly Workers: Lessons for Employers and Unions (See details on how you can attend below!)

What: Joan Blades and the Custom Fit Workplace

Hey, Bosses! Get Your Bonuses by Treating Work-Life Like an Asset!

When short-term business goals conflict with high-minded work-life programs, work-life loses. Profits vs. flextime; team goals vs. job sharing; when deadlines are driving dollars, it’s all hands on deck, compressed workweeks be damned. Now, a new study by Alexandra Beauregard, of the London School of Economics, argues that managers should be held just as accountable for making the most of work-life programs as they are for wringing the most from any other company asset.

Wal-mart and the Supreme Court: Can the SCOTUS Women Help Achieve Fair Pay?

A couple of months ago, I wondered what would happen for about 1.5 million women when the Supreme Court got its hands on the class-action, gender-discrimination lawsuit against corporate giant Wal-Mart. That’s the approximate number of plaintiffs in the case who have alleged they’ve been victims of institutional efforts by Wal-mart to promote men over women and systematically pay women less than men for decades.

Technically, the only issue to be determined by the Supreme Court is whether a class of plaintiffs can be this big. That’s some good, wonky procedural stuff for recovering lawyers like me! But as SCOTUS watchers know, that fact that a relatively narrow question is before them hasn’t always stopped the the highest court in the land from crafting decisions that go beyond the stated issue, so the question of gender discrimination is likely to have an impact on the final outcome.

Research Roundup from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research: Mother’s Day Edition

In time for Mother’s Day, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a leading think tank in the U.S. focusing primarily on domestic women’s issues, released a compilation of recent IWPR research findings that illustrate the current status of women, especially mothers, in the U.S. When IWPR posted a “Top 5” list of our most revealing research findings last December, we were so encouraged by the level of interest our readers showed in the post, that we decided to turn it into a regular roundup. Although intending to compile another “Top 5” list, the first four months of 2011 were so action-packed that we couldn’t limit ourselves to just five. From Social Security to employment discrimination, here are the top IWPR findings from 2011 (so far):

Workplace Flexibility: Vital for Working Mothers & Mothers-to-be

Crossposted from

One of the most important things a workplace can do to support working mothers and mothers-to-be is to provide for flexibility. In my last few blogs for I’ve mentioned the difficulties I’ve faced while working full-time and being pregnant. Early in my pregnancy I went through three months of non-stop nausea that was debilitating and made getting through each work day a big challenge.

I’m now in the home stretch with our baby due in mid-May, but the physical challenges I’ve faced didn’t end after the nausea subsided. For the past several weeks I’ve been plagued by a very painful bruised rib that is aggravated by sitting down, which makes working at a desk quite challenging. The only way to temporarily relieve the pain is to lie down flat on my back.

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