Working-Mom Trends

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We're delighted to see "The New Mommy Track" [September 3] getting the attention it deserves!

Three years ago, in search of a better life/work balance, we started our own management consulting company. Not only has it allowed the three of us to create a lifestyle that suits our needs as moms, wives, and business-women, but it has allowed us to create that option for the women and men who work with us. By offering flexibility, we have reaped the benefits of working with an extremely experienced and mature workforce. And by running our own shop, we've avoided the overhead and bureaucracy that can bog a business down. There's no doubt it was hard work, but we wouldn't trade it for the world!

Susan Barborek

Kristin Berry
Kris McMenamin
McLean, Va.  

The mothers depicted in "The New Mommy Track" are hardly typical of the average working mother. The vast majority of working mothers do not hold high-powered, well-paying jobs where they can demand and be given the work schedules of their choice. If they even suggested such a thing, many would be told that if they don't like the job, there are plenty of others who will do it. This is rarely an option for a woman in a factory or clerical-type job. And if she is working a part-time job in retail, fast food, or other such industries, which deliberately limit the number of full-time jobs to avoid paying benefits, she is probably wishing she could get more hours at work just to keep her family together. Please focus on them rather than the fortunate few who can afford a nanny and serve roast pork tenderloin for dinner besides.

June Moffett

Santa Ana, Calif.  

Actually, "The New Mommy Track" isn't so new. I began more than 17 years ago following the birth of my first child. Returning to my job would have meant 60-hour workweeks and very little time with my son, so I wrote a business plan and started my own pr consulting business from an office in my house. Back then, people thought I was crazy. My children, now in high school, and I have a great relationship, and the big payoff is that they see their goals are achievable. It hasn't been easy, but it's certainly been worth it. I do believe motherhood necessitates invention.

Barbara Caruso

Huntington Beach, Calif.  

"The New Mommy Track" repeatedly used the word work to describe what women do if they get paid for doing anything besides taking care of their own children and their homes. This sends the implied message that only paid activity is "work" and that child care and housework in your own home and community volunteering are not. As a woman who has spent many years as an unpaid worker in community projects and who has raised five children without the help of an outside income, I resent this implication. Over the years when people have asked, "Do you work?" I answer, "Yes; I just don't get paid for it."

Janet L. Haseley

Rensselaerville, N.Y.  

Forty-five years ago, i startedmy own business at home on a shoestring. From the start, it was successful, thanks mostly to part-time moms and retired men. All worked flextime, several from home. Five years later, we had about 40 employees on flextime. As implied in your excellent article, part-time moms deserve support in all respects.

Robert W. Clark

Lake Bluff, Ill.  

I picked up the issue featuring "The New Mommy Track" hoping to gain some insight before I start my career as a lawyer and hopefully as a new mom. Boy, was I disappointed. Not a single minority was featured in the article. Not only were these women racially the same; they seemed to come from upper-middle-class backgrounds. These women and their husbands were wealthy enough that they could go into business for themselves because they had adequate capital. How was this article supposed to help the rest of us?

Natasha Ong

Portland, Ore.  

As an expert and author who works in the field developing flexibility strategies for organizations and individuals, I continue to be curious why author Sylvia Ann Hewlett's data are quoted as evidence of a massive "opting out" of women from the workforce to take care of children. Yes, according to the research, 37 percent of women with advanced or professional degrees drop out of the workforce, but 63 percent don't drop out. And of the 37 percent who do, only 44 percent do so for children. The healthy majority of all women don't leave the workforce to stay home with their kids. And, interestingly, in the same study, 24 percent of men left the workforce as well for a period of time, which means there is a 13-percentage-point difference between the dropout rates of highly qualified men and women. Why aren't there more men "opting out" articles? The challenges of managing work and life really are an issue for everyone. But making it solely about moms sets up an inaccurate belief that if you hire a woman, she is the only one who will need a different type of schedule. That isn't true and actually ends up hurting women more.

Cali Williams Yost

President and Founder Work+Life Fit Inc.
Madison, N.J.  

Your recent article on motherhood pays scant attention to the expanded role of fatherhood in the 21st-century home. The cover and inside pages have picture after picture of "alpha moms." U.S. News is reinforcing the idea that women will continue to juggle work and family on their own. Your piece seems to raise this question: Are alpha males incapable of being alpha dads?

Ross Freshwater

Madison, Wis.  

Juggling two careers and three children with my husband, I am always looking for words of wisdom from other like-minded families and was quick to pick up "The New Mommy Track." However, reading the articles and looking at the pictures of (although they eschew the moniker) "superwomen," I couldn't help but feel that the article could easily have been recycled from the 1990s, the '80s, or even the '70s. Until your magazine features the new Daddy track, men who work in the corporate world and are taking advantage of flextime options to care for their children (in addition to doing housework), it won't be spotlighting the real revolutionaries, those models our sons and daughters need to see in order to be balanced, productive, and supportive partners and parents to our grandchildren. These men exist; I know, because I'm married to one.

Katie Jewett