Pennsylvania Has Room to Improve for Working Parents

The Rankings

Wallethub.com recently released studies ranking the best and worst states for both working moms and working dads. Pennsylvania's rankings were nothing to brag about, with PA coming in overall as the 38th best state for working moms and 32nd for working dads. While there are still a handful of states falling below Pennsylvania’s rank, it is evident that the PA has some work to do when it comes to opportunities and support for working parents.

Behind the Rankings

For working mothers, Wallethub.com’s ranking was based on the comparison of three components: child-care, professional opportunities and work-life balance. To further break down these categories, "child-care" rankings were based on costs of child-care, school system ranks and the level of pediatric service availability. "Professional opportunities" was a more working-woman-specific category, focusing on topics including the gender pay gap, the “ratio of female executives to male executives” and the “gender-representation gap in different economic sectors.” "Work-life balance" ranks included average hours worked per week, average commute time and parental leave policies. For working moms, the rankings were fairly consistent (between 33rd and 36th) for each category. 

The state rankings for working dads were determined similarly, though with four categories for comparison: economic and social well-being, work-life balance, child-care and health. The category of "economic and social well-being" focused on median incomes, unemployment rates, the percentage of families living in poverty and graduation rates. The health category focused on rates of insured working dads, mental health rankings, cancer rates and reported exercise. "Child-care" and "work-life balance" were evaluated in the same way as they were for working moms. While Pennsylvania was fairly consistent in rankings (placing in the mid-30s) for most categories, in the Economic and Social Well-being category, the state ranked 14th for working dads.

How can PA improve?

PA's mostly mediocre rankings bring into question: what changes can Pennsylvania make to improve the lives of working moms and dads? As reported by the Philly Voice, following major U.S. companies' improvement of their parental leave policies, some Philadelphia companies and universities, as well as the City Government, have worked to do the same in recent months. However, there is clearly more that can be done. Implementing policy to decrease the gender-wage gap and mandating paid parental leave are just a few of the changes that could raise PA in the working-parent ranks.

At Mama Said, we support working parents, and believe workplaces should do the same. Check out our Services page to learn how Mama Said can help your business create a better environment for your parent employees!

What about Dad?: How Parental Leave Benefits the Whole Family

                                photo courtesy of @nategunn_ via instagram   

                                photo courtesy of @nategunn_ via instagram

 

With Father’s Day coming up this Sunday, at Mama Said we are paying extra attention to fatherhood this week. Recently, we’ve been inspired by some newsmaking dads who have decided to take advantage of parental leave policies or career flexibility in order to spend time at home with their new childen. Even better, the choices made by these dads are proving to be beneficial for mamas and babies, too.

Tomer London: Founder, Gusto

 Tomer London decided to take two months of paid parental leave following the birth of his daughter. London believes that both parents should have the ability to adjust to life as a new parents and bond with their infant, and is (rightfully) unhappy with the fact that the U.S. is “the only developed country where parents aren’t guaranteed to stay on payroll when they have a child.” London also  hopes that his choice to take time off will serve as an example for his employees. In an article written for the Huffington Post, London said, “One of the biggest reasons I’m going on paternity leave is to signal to my team that this is normal, expected behavior. It shouldn’t make you feel guilty, or as if you’re not as committed to your work.” London’s startup company, Gusto, has gone even further than offering two months of paid paternal leave for employees, also offering four months of paid maternity leave and services including food delivery, house cleaning and sleep coaching for parents employees.

Ryan Park: Former Clerk, Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s former clerk, Ryan Park, is another example of a father making the choice to take time off following his entrance into fatherhood. In an article that he wrote for The Atlantic, Park recounts his decision to take a period of leave following his clerkship for RBG while his wife completed her pediatric residency.  Park believed his time spent with his daughter was far more meaningful than that spent at the office, even citing the statistic that “nearly half of fathers report dissatisfaction with the amount of time they are able to spend with their children.” In his piece, Park points out the that the “gender-equality debate” typically fails to account for fathers that feel as if they are missing out on time with their children due to societal pressure to work. Park channeled the gender-equality beliefs of his former superior (RBG has spoken out against “gender lines in the law” in the past) as he noted, “when home is mentioned at all,  the emphasis is usually on equalizing burdens—not on equalizing the opportunity for men, as well as women, to be there.”

                       photo courtesy of ryan park via time.com   

                       photo courtesy of ryan park via time.com

 

Park believed his time spent with his daughter was far more meaningful than that spent at the office, citing the statistic that ‘nearly half of father report dissatisfaction with the amount of time they are able to spend with their children.’

Crunching the Numbers

As noted by Park, the number of stay at home dads in the U.S. has nearly doubled in the last 20 years, with 1.1 million fathers staying home in 1989 and 2 million doing the same in 2012. With this increase, there have been instances (much like the example of London’s company) of improved parental leave policies that grant paid paternal leave. Even in the past few years, great changes have taken place in regards to parental leave, particularly when it comes to tech companies. According fastcompany.com, “In 2015, nearly half of Fatherly’s 50 Best Places To Work For New Dads offered between one and two weeks of paid leave to fathers. This year’s survey finds that the average is up to 7.5 weeks.” Though Pennsylavania law does not require employers (of 50 or more employees) to offer more than 12 weeks of unpaid leave to new parents, some employers in Philadelphia have also developed policies to offer better parental leave options for their employees. According to The Philly Voice, employees of the City Government of Philadelphia receive four weeks of paid leave within a year of having or adopting a new child, and Pricewaterhousecoopers grants employees six weeks of paid parental leave, and two additional weeks if their new children are multiples.

While the improvements are great for dads wanting to take time off to be with their children, there is still room for improvement in regards to these policies, particularly in regards to flexibility in when to take their leave. Fatherly.com found that 75% of fathers would like leave schedule flexibility in order to better share new-baby responsibilities with their spouse.

As for spouses, it should be noted that paternal leave has been found to be beneficial to all new mamas, not just those looking to complete a residency like Park’s wife. Park cites a statistic  that says, “mothers’ incomes rise about 7 percent for each month that a father spends at home with the children.” Research has also confirmed that children benefit from having present and engaged fathers (made possible in part by having flexible work schedules) in regards to emotional balance and socialization.

At Mama Said, we are proponents of paid parental leave, particularly as it benefits new parents and babies while allowing new moms and dads the opportunity to feel fulfilled in work and at home. This father’s day week, we hope for the continued improvement of parental leave policies in Philadelphia and beyond.

Abolishing the "Motherhood Penalty": On the Gender Pay-Gap for New Parents

Thanks to last week’s WCW, Robin Wright, we’ve been thinking a lot about the gender pay-gap here at Mama Said this week, especially for new parents. The American Association of University Women (AAUW) reports that after accounting for working hours and marital status, on average, new fathers are rewarded with a 6% pay increase while mothers receive a 4% decrease in earnings per child.

The New York Times reports that these pay differences exist even when controlling for industry and spouses’ wages. These phenomena are often referred to as the “Motherhood Penalty” and “Fatherhood Bonus,” and, according to the New York Times, the phenomena are less about the performance of new parents in the workplace than about America being stuck in a cultural rut, which the Times specifies as a “cultural bias against mothers.”

Worse yet, the Times reports that low-income women are most affected by the phenomenon, particularly those with non-flexible schedules and no paid parental leave. Alternately, women in the top 10% of earners are not likely to experience any sort of pay cuts, and the top 5% of women earners may see increases in pay once they become mothers.

Image by John-Patrick Thomas for the New York Times

Image by John-Patrick Thomas for the New York Times

But what can we do about this “motherhood penalty” for the other 90% of women? While the AAUW sees policy change, particularly in regards to pay equity laws, as the ultimate answer, in the meantime individuals and companies can begin to make a difference. On the individual level, negotiating for higher pay, or at least pay equal to male counterparts, can make a difference (here’s looking at you, Robin Wright!). At a corporate level, companies can offer a flexible schedule that is better suited to parent employees, and according to an article on FastCompany.com, is also the most-desired and most-engaging way for millenials to work. Additionally, offering paid parental leave reduces the mother-as-caretaker stigma by also giving fathers time off after their child is born.

At Mama Said, we are working to improve relationships between parents and their employers in an effort to make the workplace a more equitable and understanding environment for working parents. Check out our Services page to learn more!

 

Parental Leave Progress in the US: The Wall Street Journal Reports on "Family Leave Gaining Momentum in the Workplace"

In 2015, monster-sized companies like Amazon and Netflix made dramatic changes to their parental leave plans. These new plans provide employees with lengthy leave times and extend availability to adopting parents, surrogates, and fathers. Modifications are expected to continue in 2016 and it will be interesting to see how these changes effect recruitment and retention of female workers as well as the bottom lines of companies who have taken on new parental leave policies. 

In this article, The Wall Street Journal asks the question, now that these plans are available, will employees take advantage of them? Parental Leave experts believe that in order for employees to feel comfortable using all the parental benefits offered to them, they need to see and feel support from management and executives. Companies are beginning to look for training programs for management and parents on how to navigate these new programs/policies.

One of Mama Said's core services is providing the kind of training described in the article to companies and organizations. Visit our services page to learn more! 

To read the full article, click here.

Meeting the Demands of Motherhood and Career: The Wall Street Journal Reports on "What’s Holding Women Back in the Workplace?"

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Mama Said is actively working to address a variety of the concerns outlined in this article through our programming and services to both individuals and other businesses. 

"While three-quarters of companies tracked by Lean In and McKinsey named gender diversity as a priority of the chief executive, fewer than half of employees surveyed said it was high on their own CEO’s priority list. Only a third of men and women say that advancing women is a priority for their direct boss—a phenomenon that Stanford University professor Shelley Correll calls the “frozen middle.”

A key to thawing that middle is “getting managers to see that some of their actions are creating barriers to women in ways that they don’t intend,” says Dr. Correll, a sociology and organizational-behavior professor who directs Stanford’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research. But it won’t be easy, in part due to the polarized views of the workplace. Some 86% of men said that women have as many or more opportunities than men do. Far fewer women—57%—agreed."

Read the full article here