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O: Open Flexible Work

Women Who Code – Why Including Motherhood in STEM Discussions Matters

With millions of students taking part in “Hour of Code,” a campaign supported by technology companies as part of National Computer Science Week, there is a lot of internet chatter about the importance of high-tech skills in an innovation economy.

By late Tuesday, more than 60 percent of the students who had taken one of the intro coding tutorials were girls. 

This came as a surprise to the organizers of the campaign – particularly since there has been a lot of talk recently about the importance of encouraging girls to learn to code – and about the current dearth of women in computer science.

Although women outnumber men in college by 4:3 and attain advanced degrees at an equal or higher rate, the number of women who major in computer science has not been rising – in fact, it has declined by half over the last twenty-five years.

Mother on the Edge

This post originally appeared on the Mothers Central blog. You can see it here in its original form.  Thanks to Kate for letting me post it here in full.

It was a desperate cry for help, and one that I could not ignore. 

It came via email, at the end of the summer, from a total stranger. (At least, she was a stranger to me, but my work was known to her because she’d been reading it on social media.) Already the mother of a 2 year old, and pregnant again with a due date of this December the email began:

I’m in anguish over the pregnancy discrimination I am facing as a federal civil servant, angry over the roots of our suffocating minimal protections on family leave that are strangling our progress, and disappointed I’m realizing at age 34 that my hard earned degrees should have come with asterisks ** Congratulations! Enjoy the dream of gender equality your country sold you while it lasts, because a rude awakening is coming when you cash in on motherhood. **

The Peril of Working While Pregnant

Peggy Young (no relation) had been a UPS employee for about a decade when she got pregnant.  Like most of us, she assumed there’d be no problem at work.  Her pregnancy was in no way unusual.  Everybody knew you couldn’t discriminate against pregnant workers.  We had the protection of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which had been the law in the US for 35  years.  It was the 21st century, for crying out loud.  Surely we’d evolved.  Right?

WRONG!  Her employer insisted she produce a note from her doctor listing her physical restrictions.  She complied, with a note limiting her lifting to no more than 20 pounds while she was pregnant, something that rarely occurred anyway.  Refusing to allow her a light duty status, she was told not to return to work until after the baby was born.   Pregnant women, she was told, were just too much of a liability to have in the workplace.  Forced off the job for the remaining two trimesters of her pregnancy, she lost her income, and then her health insurance.  Her joy and happy anticipation turned to frustration, anger, and worry.  And one very expensive delivery.

I See Sexism

Sometimes I think I’m going crazy, only I know I’m not because other women tell me they notice the same thing.  It’s complicated, and it’s hard to keep it in focus sometimes, but it really is there.  I don’t see dead people,.  I don’t hear voices – I just see gender distinctions being made where other people see ….

Why Are There So Few Women in Science, Continued

Kudos to The New York Times for commissioning an article on why there are so few women in science. Author Eileen Pollack suggests two reasons. Citing her own experience as an undergraduate at Yale, she argues that women doubt themselves, and need to be encouraged more to pursue science careers: “The most powerful determinant of whether a woman goes on in science might be whether anyone encourages her to go on.”

Twenty years of work by myself and Mary Ann Mason confirms Pollack’s worry that things don’t look good for women in science. The threshold problem is one Pollack discusses in only a sentence or two: the impact of children.

Paid Family Leave in California: All is not well

Update: On September 24, 2013, Governor Brown signed SB 770, which will take effect of July 1, 2014. This bill will expand the definition of family for the California Paid Family Leave Act.

 

On Jan. 9, 2012, Women’s eNews published my article, “Paid Family Leave Pays-Let’s Buy in This Year.”

I wrote it in response to a Human Rights Watch report written by Janet Walsh and published in 2011 describing the lack of paid family leave programs in the United States.

Their report showed that a lack of paid leave can increase sickness and poverty for families, as well as job discrimination.

My job after reading the report seemed to be hailing California’s Paid Family Leave Act, PFLA, and the positive reaction from the business community. I concluded it was time we elected more representatives who would support legislation like the California law that would improve women’s work lives.

When Women Succeed, America Succeeds: Linking Women’s Economic Security and Small Business Success

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi’s press conference last month announcing the House Democrats Economic Agenda for Women and Families, “When Women Succeed, America Succeeds,” ended with Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez’s speech highlighting the importance of the Agenda to small businesses.  Congresswoman Velazquez is certainly an example of women succeeding; she is one of the few women (and the first Latina) to chair a full committee in the House. Velasquez is the ranking Democrat on the House Small Business Committee, which represents a community not always associated with support for policies like those in the newly announced agenda. Yet, as Velasquez showed, small business men and women have many reasons to support these policies.

What You May Not Expect When You’re Expecting

Co-written with Katherine Ullman.

So you or your partner is pregnant. There are plenty of important decisions to consider: what will be the little one’s name? Will you share the name with friends and family or keep it a secret? What about gender? Do you want to know? Do you want others to know? Will the baby take your last name, your partner’s or something in between?

As exciting as these considerations may be, they often distract from the more daunting task of navigating the workplace while expecting: sad to say, this is the dark underbelly of pregnancy in the United States.

What you may not be expecting is that one of the richest countries in the world (us) has one of the worst sets of family-friendly policies. While some lucky folks sail through without difficulties, many are blindsided when they are denied accommodation while pregnant, forced into leave, harassed, passed over a job, or fired.

Moms, let’s talk about health care

My name is Angela Warren and I am an uninsured mother of four in Arizona.

I had worked full-time since I was 15, but that changed after the birth of my 4th child at 34. For years I went to work at 4:30 AM and was able to provide quality health insurance for my children. I had great coverage as a Manager at Starbucks and didn’t know what uninsured parents in the United States were going through, until I became one myself. After my youngest child was born, I became a full time stay at home mother, and we were able to receive coverage from my husband’s employer. This worked for some time, but my husband and I divorced, and while my children were still thankfully eligible for health insurance coverage under his plan, I became uninsured.

Happy Birthday, ADA!

Expectant mothers risk losing their jobs, their babies, or both when employers deny them pregnancy accommodations at work – accommodations as modest as the right to carry a water bottle due to persistent pregnancy-related urinary tract infections or the right to take more frequent bathroom breaks due to nausea. “We don’t pay you to pee,” said one supervisor.

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