Why Equity at Home is So Critical for Working Mothers


Why Equity at Home is so Critical for Working Mothers

Jill Koziol, Motherly Cofounder & CEO


With women now the most educated cohort in today’s workforce, it is imperative for companies and for our economy that we figure out how to keep educated women working in the workforce once they enter motherhood. 


Notably, Motherly’s recent State of Motherhood survey reveals that nearly 50% of today’s working mothers are the primary breadwinner in their family contributing more than half of their household’s income. Without addressing issues like the motherhood penalty, affordable childcare, parental leave, and creating flexible work options that enable working mothers to integrate their work and mothering responsibilities, The Great Resignation will undoubtedly continue, which will drive down the competitiveness of the United States. 


For too long mothers have been asked to nurture in a society that does not nurture us back. This must be the time—we must be the generation—that demands parental leave, affordable childcare and equal pay for mothers from our government and our employers.


And it doesn’t stop there. 


These conversations must start at home. Motherly’s State of Motherhood study showed that despite being primary breadwinners in their families, mothers are continuing to bear both the physical and mental load of motherhood disproportionately more than their partners. Of note, 50% of primary income-earning moms still handle a majority of the household chores (that’s up from 40% five years ago) and almost half (48%) are the family financial planner, meaning mothers pay all the bills and manage the household finances. 


While more women are working outside the home, they take on more unpaid work at home than men and are typically the sole keepers of the family calendar. And even as women are entering the workforce in greater numbers than previous generations and are climbing the career ladder, society also continues to frame mothers as the default parent.


With all these pressures and penalties that disproportionately affect moms, it’s not enough for dads to simply chip in when they can. Instead, it requires sustained commitment, constant monitoring, and frequent recalibrating to enable both partners to thrive at work and at home. A mother’s career depends on it.


When I think about my marriage, I immediately feel grateful for my husband. He’s been a supportive partner who makes both parenting and my professional success easier. However, the mutually supportive relationship I have with my husband is not all sunshine and rainbows. It has taken work. Getting to the point we are now has taken countless conversations and a lot of mistakes.


It still does, even nearly 13 years in.


We’ve been very intentional with how we divide the workload of parenting and support one another’s professional success. We’re both ambitious high-achievers in our careers, but we’re also ambitious high-achievers in raising great kids. We want to be present for our children. We know we can’t both do full-on parenting work without someone’s career suffering.


So, we take turns.


I typically take mornings, while my husband takes afternoons. He handles dentist appointments, while I’m the point-person for the pediatrician. We have a house rule that only one of us can travel for work at a time. And then sometimes we’re taking even more of a long view, and are having conversations where we have to establish that for the next three weeks — or the next three years — one person’s career takes precedence. For example, while my husband was in the Navy, I held down the house. And now, as I’m immersed in start-up life as the CEO of Motherly, he’s doing that for me.


Even with these plans in place, we frequently need to do a mental reset regarding each of our roles. One of us will notice that someone is taking on disproportionately more, and we’ll rebalance. We’re constantly rebalancing the workload.


We need to shift our expectations of our partners — and ourselves.


Although writing this has prompted feelings of gratitude for my husband, I want to be careful not to gush. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful. But I don’t want to be over-the-top in my appreciation for him doing what all partners should be expected to do. I don’t want to hold him to the standard of men who do not rise to the challenge.


In our society, we tend to expect so much of women and so little of men. There’s a low threshold for what it takes for a man to be considered a ‘good father’ and an equally low threshold for what it takes for a woman to be labeled as a ‘bad mom’.


As women, we have to demand more for ourselves, but we also have to demand a lot more from our spouses. There are times that by agreeing to take on the mental load of motherhood, we disempower our husbands along the way, and make it harder for them to be a true partner.

I know that’s the case for me. There are moments when I know I’m an active participant in adding to my mental load, and I have to lift my own head up, and we have to work together to reset. Sometimes that means being okay with letting him handle the dentist, even if it means I feel a little out of the loop or worry that he needs a reminder.


But I know that this ongoing work and this constant recalibrating are essential not only to our marriage but also to our success professionally.


To take ourselves seriously, women have to start expecting more from our partners.



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