Presidential debate: What do working moms need from an employer?

It was very interesting to see and hear reactions to the discussion about what working women need from an employer during the presidential debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.

Some women were offended by the idea that they would need to go home to make dinner. Some acted like that’s oh so 1952.

Others were offended by the idea of needing a flexible schedule.

Others questioned the 5 p.m. time mentioned: My mother said that mom’s in trouble if she’s getting off work at 5. Those kids have been home a long time and dinner is going to be late.

I do think women, or men, who are in charge in their families for picking up kids, overseeing homework and getting dinner on the table do need flexible schedules. I don’t know why that is insulting. Somebody has to be doing those tasks if you have kids and they can’t be done at 8 at night. (I guess a lot of employes are not flexible and that is why so many parents have after-school care to do the pick up and homework?)

If I go back to work outside the home, I want a job where I can be home to pick up my kids, help them with homework and make them dinner. My kids get out of school at 2:30, so I will need a flexible employer who understands I am going to get the work done but it just may be on a non-tradition schedule.

I thought the equal pay thing was interesting as well. I took over a job from a man when we lived in New York  in the mid 1990s, and they were paying me probably $30,000 less than what the man was making. I complained and they said he had more experience and I said well, I have enough experience that you’ve hired me to do the same job. I did get a sizable raise but I’m sure it wasn’t as much as he was making.

So what do you think: What do working moms need from their employers? Do you want flexible schedules? Do your employers understand about picking up the kids or going to a school event? Should we feel insulted if we do make diner? What about the equal pay? Are you making as much as the males doing similar jobs in your office?

38 comments Add your comment

jarvis

October 17th, 2012
3:26 pm

Flex schedules are good for any working person. Who cares what time you do your work as long as it’s done?

Chaos

October 17th, 2012
3:26 pm

Get in the kitchen and make me a sammach!

Mayhem

October 17th, 2012
3:29 pm

Employers are not in the business of hiring people who cannot work the hours they are needed. If you cannot work until 5:00, then find a job that allows you to work until 2:00. We call this “part time” employment.

Employers are not here for your convenience.

Gordon Gekko

October 17th, 2012
3:31 pm

What do working Mom’s need from their employer? How about a job in this economy.

Your employer does not care if you have children, or a family or whatever you have going on in your life: your employer wants you to get the job done and they set the rules, not you. If you somehow find an employer that will meet your needs count your blessings, but that is far and few between in this economy. During full employment the focus then shifts to the needs of the employees when its hard to find good workers. In today’s economy most people are now finding themselves working in a “lower” position that where they were at previously. Talent has been pushed down in order to get a job and find work and the employers generally benefit for a more seasoned professional working in a lesser position for less pay.

“I want… I will need…. I complained” What your employer wants to hear is not what “you want” but rather what are you going to do for them in return for a paycheck. In todays economy there are 4 people out of work for every one job opening. My advice would be to reassess your priorities and be very thankful that your husband earns a nice income so “your needs” are met.

Jennifer

October 17th, 2012
3:31 pm

It depends on the work, not all work is that flexible. You may be able to get some portion done at night or weekends, but what if you need to work as a team, or with vendors, or field calls during certain hours? If it’s a job that supports flexible hours, good for you. But if you really need to be in the office sometime between 8am and 5pm (like the people you work with) and you want to pick your kids up from school at 2:30, then I would expect either that’s not the job for you our you should expect to make significantly less than a counterpart. When I was single and childless I worked crazy hours including late nights and many weekends. I did what I needed to do and it was part of the job, but now that I have a 4 year old, the money is less important than the family life.

Sam

October 17th, 2012
3:32 pm

I think you’re missing the point. The offensive to some may be because Romney’s response to a question about equality was to offer flexible hours so women can resume their usual domestic duties. I get it — they need to be done and women often do it — but it didn’t answer the question of whether women should be equally compensated for work ON THE JOB. His response was basically “I like women.. some of my best employees were women and oh by the way, they need jobs too.” It may be insulting because Romney isn’t aware of a problem, or doesn’t care that you make $30K less than your male counterparts.

Obama, on the other hand drew a direct line from public policy and funding (planned parenthood, health insurance) to female economic power. Plus, he signed legislation intended to ensure pay equality for women.

BTW, I’m a man and I picked up on this. I’m surprised you didn’t.

A reader

October 17th, 2012
3:43 pm

I need the same paycheck as my male colleagues, not a significant percentage less! That is the only thing I need!!

Aubrey

October 17th, 2012
3:46 pm

Women are the most discriminated group of people on the planet. The least of which is done inside America. Free birth control pills aside, (Viagra shouldn’t be included either) more should be done by both parties to ensure women are treated as equals in the workplace. The problem: as with affirmative action, when we hold one group of people back at the expense of another group of people, albeit fair in the larger scope of things, we create resentment between the groups and artificially introduce less qualified applicants to the cause.

jarvis

October 17th, 2012
3:57 pm

@A reader, this is a very interesting article (even though it is now almost 2 years old)
http://www.forbes.com/sites/dailymuse/2012/02/26/why-women-dont-negotiate-and-what-we-can-do-about-it/

jarvis

October 17th, 2012
3:58 pm

@chaos, I love sammaches.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

October 17th, 2012
4:13 pm

The reason i continue to do freelance and odd jobs –like teaching — is because they do work around my family’s schedule. I don’t make much money but it is some money to add to our bottom line. And I know each day that I will be there to get them, help with homework, take them to play and make dinner. I would probably have to be PT to be able to still do those things.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

October 17th, 2012
4:14 pm

I should add we are very lucky that my husband has a good job that provides for us. We are blessed and grateful for his job.

Sheila

October 17th, 2012
5:27 pm

I am absolutely in support of equal pay for equal work. I experienced a man coming in after me and making $10,000.00 more per year. Some of it is the ingrained idea of men deserving more, but some of it is also that men are more forceful at expressing their requirements. But, some of it is still that women want more flexibility – choosing to stay home for periods of time, choosing jobs/goals that don’t require as much evening/weekend work. Where I work now, I have several women with children in my department. We have 3 major events that requires that we travel to a different state for 2 – 12 days each. They moan and complain – day care, missing their child, etc. They all knew that this was part of the job, applied and got the job, and still want exceptions made. Last year, we even cancelled traveling to one of the events, and did the meetings in town. They were thrilled. The rest of the department – not so much. Flex time is a wonderful option – but it should be for everyone – male and female, conditional on the needs of the job and employer. Frankly, if you told me you could only work until 2:30 every day, I wouldn’t have a position for you. What I’d like to hear from a candidate is plans for the economy that would allow at least one of the breadwinners in the family to make enough so that, if needed, the other person could adapt their schedule for family concerns. It needn’t be the man – I’m the primary breadwinner in my family.

Tired

October 17th, 2012
5:39 pm

Since when is parenting solely the responsibility of the mother (if there’s a Dad around)?

Nearly everyone has a life outside of work – caring for a parent or child, running a side business, volunteer work, training for a marathon, what have you. It’s up to the employee to decide how much of their outside-work life they’re willing to restructure and compromise on. If your employer can offer flex hours, great – if not, it’s up to you to figure out.

Also, not every job lends itself to flextime and working from home. Hospital nurses, for example, can neither see patients from home nor decide to bail early on a shift if they have something else they’d rather do.

Fireant

October 17th, 2012
6:06 pm

Equal pay for equal work. When you get your job, no more family planning funded by the Federal Government, go to your own doctor and pay for your self.

Presidential Debate | NewsTrendr

October 17th, 2012
7:11 pm

[...] Presidential debate: What do working moms need from an employer?Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)It was very interesting to see and hear reactions to the discussion about what working women need from an employer during the presidential debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. Some women were offended by the idea that they would need to … [...]

Tiffany

October 17th, 2012
8:24 pm

@Sam- I totally get the point. President Obama supports women’s rights.Romney is totally out of touch and just doesn’t get it.

Did you know (evidently Rlomeny didn't)...

October 17th, 2012
8:34 pm

…that women on Obama’s White House staff make 18% less than men doing the same job with the same amount of experience on his staff? I would say that Obama is throwing stones in his own glass house, and the Dumocrats are blindly following, as usual…

Now what was that you were saying, Tiffany?

Did you know (evidently Romney didn't)...

October 17th, 2012
8:35 pm

Oops – my bad…but the message is the same…

Judith

October 17th, 2012
8:41 pm

Women need workplaces where they are valued as women. I don’t mind that Romney has a binder of women, especially considering that someone on his team had sense enough to organize them and put them together neatly for him to review. Both Men and Women should be equally valued for both of their strengths. Workplaces with diversity are stronger workplaces. As a working mom, I want the flexibility to be able to work my 50 hours+ in my salaried position in a way that is equal or superior to the time put in by my counterparts whether they be men or women, young or old. I don’t want to be judged for having young ovaries or gray hair if my skills are sharp and I have balance in my life.

motherjanegoose

October 17th, 2012
9:18 pm

@ Did you…I heard the 18% figure on the radio today.
If you talk the talk…please walk the walk. I constantly tell my clients…
“I believe so much in what I have created for teachers, that I use it myself. Put me in a room with 100 children and I will show you how it works!”

Jessica

October 17th, 2012
11:34 pm

First of all, of course men and women should be payed equally, assuming they are doing the same work and have comparable experience. No one in the debate was arguing otherwise.

As for the matter of flexibility, why is anyone getting offended because Mitt Romney stated the obvious? Women often need more job flexibility than men. Even in 2012, women usually have more responsibility for home management and child care. Is that fair? Not really, but it’s not discrimination and it’s not something the government can fix. It’s just life. Romney’s response to the question was practical and realistic.

He could have chosen his words a little better, though. I get what he meant by the ‘binders of women’ comment (there were a lot of women who were well-qualified for the leadership jobs he was looking to fill) but the way he said it sounded kind of weird.

mom of 3

October 18th, 2012
5:27 am

One of the main reasons I keep reading this blog is to see how motherjanegoose is going to pat herself on the back. She is the most perfect example of how everything should be done and she tells everyone that will listen. She’s her best advocate.

motherjanegoose

October 18th, 2012
6:43 am

@mom…while I am NO where near presidential material, I find it necessary to KNOW YOUR STUFF. Romney keeps telling us that he HAS run a state and businesses and thus he can run the country. I vote we give him a chance. There are LOTS of things I do not know but MY STUFF is something I do know. I am off to 5 shows today in SC and yes I am my own advocate, if are not confident in yourself why would anyone else be? There are many things I cannot tell you how to do…stay tuned and you might read about them. On the flip side, you should fire someone who does not do the job they said they would do. I am still working, in my field, 30 years later.

motherjanegoose

October 18th, 2012
6:44 am

if YOU are…sorry..

Jeff

October 18th, 2012
7:40 am

Aubrey, you really got a hate it when women are prosecuted LESS for the same crimes and receive lesser punishments for the same convictions, receive preferential treatment in family court, and also have a longer life expectancy, yet want to dominate the conversation about health care.

When you’re willing to address inequalities for everyone, and not just those who were lucky enough to be born with their reproductive organs in the same place as yours, I’ll be glad to come back to the team and return your support.

Mayhem

October 18th, 2012
9:31 am

Romney’s out of touch? Really???? He’s been in the business world, running successful businesses for over 25 years.

DB

October 18th, 2012
9:59 am

Anyone who chose to be “offended” at Romney’s remark about fixing dinner is going to be offended if he breathes, so that doesn’t really bother me. You can mutter all you want about “equal rights”, etc, but let’s face it, when it comes to meal planning and fixin’, it’s usually mom. Why is that “insulting”? Yes, there are exceptions, but I bet if you asked 100 families who was responsible for the majority of meal planning and preparation, 75 of them would point at the woman.

People who jump on that turn of phrase are missing the point: KIDS MUST BE CARED FOR AND SOMEONE HAS TO DO IT. Anyone who chooses to be offended because a candidate for POTUS didn’t take into account their own very specific work situation while answering a broader questions is just looking for a reason to be offended, IMO.

What do working moms want from their government? Respect, and an economic climate that provides opportunities so that they can live their life as they see fit and provide for themselves and their families, without the government controlling every aspect of their lives. America has long been the land of opportunity. Give people an opportunity.

@Jeff: Good point :-)

I chose to create my own business in order to give myself the flexibility to stay at home and raise our family, rather than be subject to the needs of an employer, because I valued that flexibility more than I did a benefits package or a 401K. Wasn’t that what the women’s movement was about — to give women a CHOICE?

Jeff

October 18th, 2012
10:12 am

Thank you DB. Those reasons you listed are the “feminsts” reasons that I support. But I support those same things for ALL people. Fortunately, I believe that most sane people do as well.

atlmom

October 18th, 2012
11:48 am

Yes, women are still discriminated against a tad bit here. But it’s not so much – and if you’re not making what you think you’re worth – get another job. There are plenty of employers willing to pay you ‘what you’re worth’ (and yes, no matter what, sometimes people are hired to ‘do the same job’ but sometimes some of them have more experience – and that SHOULD mean a higher pay…)

In any event, women are going to college and beyond FAR MORE than men, there’s no comparison…so in the end – there won’t even *be* qualified men to do some jobs. So what then? how do we talk about discrimination at that point? do we then have job fairs for men to get hired? do we have affirmative action programs? do we start programs to push men along? at what point do we say; hey, we’ve fixed some inequalities?

Seriously – if you are an employer and stupid enough to pay women less than men, those great women (or, um, people) working for you will up and leave. Maybe not in a day, but over time, and your business will suffer. There’s no question about it. Same goes with any group, people have options.

atlmom

October 18th, 2012
11:57 am

sam: that legislation that obama signed was, um, for what exactly? we’ve had that same law on the books for, oh, 40 years now – and a govt agency created to enforce it. so why did congress spend a second debating yet another bill to do the same thing? because they had nothing else to do?

Techmom

October 18th, 2012
12:49 pm

I am totally discriminated against at my current employer but feel stuck in this economy. It’s also hard b/c I assumed I was underpaid but when my husband came to work for my company last year, they hired him making significantly more than me (too the tune of $25k). He has not more experience than I and doesn’t even have the same certifications I do. I honestly think it’s b/c he asked for a certain amount and they gave it to him. I went to HR and did get a raise but I’m still not making what he is! The only thing other than gender that I can use as an excuse is that I have been there a long time and they haven’t “had” to keep my salary up to date since I haven’t threatened to leave. But I still think gender is a factor.

Most of you know I work from home so this is one of the main reasons I haven’t jumped ship. My son graduates from HS this year and at that point, I feel like I can actually go through with my threats to leave but until then, I am willing to make less in order to be home. I think my boss knows that and it’s part of the reason why I haven’t been given a raise as well.

FCM

October 18th, 2012
12:49 pm

How about a job in this economy.
AMEN

I am greatful for my job, the one day a week (3 weeks of the month) that I get to wfh is a blessing too. However keeping our home, food and clothes is way more important to my kids…A little planning and dinner can still be on the table…we don’t all have to be like the mom on THE MIDDLE that yells I made dinner when in fact she stopped at several places to buy drive thru.

Tiffany

October 18th, 2012
1:28 pm

I love that show The Middle! It really makes me feel like I am doing a pretty good job with my own family. Also to some of you…please don’t believe everything you hear on those talk radio shows. You had better stand up for your rights as a woman and a mom…if you buy all of what Romney is trying to sell you…you risk all of us losing our rights!!!!

FCM

October 18th, 2012
2:07 pm

America has long been the land of opportunity. Give people an opportunity.
AMEN

Romney’s response to the question was practical and realistic.
AMEN

I choose to work in the accounting field…2 days a month my children are cared for by my parents so I can work very late getting the books closed. It is the reality of our lives and my children accept it. It has been that way for a bit over 4 years now and I don’t need the govt to change that. We worked our lives to meet our needs. Stop looking to govt to meet yours.

Wow, Tiffany...

October 18th, 2012
3:05 pm

…”you risk all of us losing our rights!!!!” REALLY – talk about listening to the Dumocrat party line drivel – you are not really trying to be serious with stuff like that, are you?

DB

October 18th, 2012
7:00 pm

@Techmom: I once worked with a lovely young woman who was extremely intelligent with an almost Calvinistic work ethic. My husband met her on a social occasion, and after she and I became friends, he got to know her and realized she’d be perfect for a job at the company he worked at, and offered her a job, with a salary that was almost 30% more than she was currently making. She was tempted, but was close to vesting, and wasn’t sure if the move was a good idea, so she went to talk to her boss (honestly, she had been making him look good for a looonng time, and everyone knew it but her!) He was in a panic at the thought of losing her (and actually having to work instead of take off to play golf),and offered her 25% more on the spot.

Now she was really confused — loyalty to the company and a raise? Or a new job and new opportunities and more money? What to do? My husband told her he couldn’t go higher than the 30% number, but that he would understand if she chose to stay where she was (a Fortune 100 company vs. a Fortune 500 company). So, she decided to stay. She went in to talk to her boss, and her boss, before she could say a word, he made a strategic error: “OK, I twisted some arms — I got you a 35% raise and a new title!” It made her so mad that she quit on the spot, when she realized that he had been sitting on her promotions/raises and taking the “budget savings” as part of his yearly bonus. Anyone they were going to hire to replace her was going to be a minimum 25% more.

I think sometimes women get caught up in being “fair” or just being so grateful to have a job, they don’t realize what they are really worth. Moral of the Story: Know thy worth!

xxx

October 20th, 2012
2:24 pm

Based on the backlash at Romney’s comments I say women need absolutly nothing extra, after all acknowledging the fact that employers may need to be flexible was the rub, right?