The Motherhood Manifesto
May 13, 2006
Joan Blades, Co-Founder, MoveOn.org
There's a lot of talk about family values in this country, but isn't it about time that we actually started supporting families and mothers? The Motherhood Manifestohas been published in paperback to make sure it's very affordable — under $10 at most places. And all royalties go to the MomsRising campaign.
"The The Motherhood Manifesto is a revolutionary page-turner. The moving stories in this book reveal the shameful way our country treats its mothers — those raising the next generation of Americans.
But this must-read manifesto doesn't just point fingers, it offers real solutions. I defy anyone to read this book and not want to hug their mother — then work for change."
– Arianna Huffington, founder, HuffingtonPost.com
Did you know that in most states mothers can be denied a job or given less pay for the same work, just because they're mothers?
I didn't. And it shocked me.
There's a lot of talk about family values in this country, but isn't it about time that we actually started supporting families and mothers?
I published The Motherhood Manifesto first in paperback to make sure it's very affordable — under $10 at most places. And all royalties go to the MomsRising campaign.
We're working to collect 50,000 signatures and comments supporting Moms and American families, before Mother's Day, through a new campaign organization I'm leading called MomsRising. Can you join us? Just go to:
MomsRising will deliver these comments to leaders in Congress and begin to build an anchor of support for real family issues: protecting mothers from discrimination in hiring, promoting the work flexibility that all parents need, demanding universal health care, and a living wage for all Americans so they can support their families.
Are you a mom? Are you hoping to start a family but see how incredibly difficult it's become in our country? Do you love your mother? ;-)
• Join the MomsRising campaign at:
MomsRising will also send you an online copy of our new book, The Motherhood Manifesto — one chapter every other week for the next twelve weeks. The Motherhood Manifesto lays out the problems faced by mothers and families, and common sense, progressive solutions that will appeal to every American.
To get an actual copy of The Motherhood Manifesto from Amazon Books, Click Here.
We've taken the unusual step of publishing the book first in paperback, so it's very affordable: around ten dollars. And all royalties go to the MomsRising organizing effort.
This campaign is an important next step in building a progressive movement that connects deeply with the needs of American families. And mothers.
Check out Kiki's story in the excerpt from The Motherhood Manifesto below, one of more than a dozen compelling stories that drive the narrative of the book and the thrust of our organizing:
On a hot, humid August day, at an interview for a legal secretary position in a one-story brick building, Kiki sat down in a hard wooden chair to face a middle-aged attorney ensconced behind a mahogany desk. His framed diplomas lined the walls, and legal books filled the shelves behind him.
Kiki remembers the attorney clearly, even his general height at 5'10" and the color of his light brown hair. The interaction was significant enough to remain seared in her mind's eye a decade later. "The first question the attorney asked me when I came in for the interview was, 'Are you married?' The second was, 'Do you have children?'"
It was the eleventh job interview in which she'd been asked the very same questions since moving to Pennsylvania. After answering eleven times that she wasn't married, and that yes indeed, she was a mother of two, Kiki began to understand why her job search was taking so long.
She decided to address the issue head on this time. "I asked him how those questions were relevant to the job, and he said my hourly wage would be determined by my marital and motherhood status." Kiki then asked the next obvious question: "How do you figure out an hourly wage based on these questions?"
His response was as candid as it was horrifying. "He said if you don't have a husband and have children, then I pay less per hour because I have to pay benefits for the entire family." The attorney noted that a married woman's husband usually had health insurance to cover the kids, and since Kiki didn't have a husband, he "didn't want to get stuck with the bill for my children's health coverage."
It was the first time Kiki pushed for an explanation, and she was appalled by the answer. "I said to him, 'You mean to tell me that if I am doing the exact same work, typing the same exact subpoena as a coworker, you're going to pay me less because I have no husband and have kids?' And he very smugly told me, 'Yes, absolutely.'"
He couldn't do that, it was illegal, Kiki wondered, wasn't it? The attorney countered that it was perfectly legal—and as an attorney, he ought to know. He invited Kiki to check out the law herself and then ushered her out the door (without a job, of course).
Furious, Kiki went straight home and called the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. She found out that the lawyer was right. The questions were legal, as was paying a single mother less than other applicants. Pennsylvania, like scores of states, does not have state employment laws that protect mothers.
The sad truth is that Kiki isn't struggling alone. Recent Cornell University research by Dr. Shelley Correll confirmed what many American women are finding: Mothers are 44 percent less likely to be hired than non-mothers who have the same résumé, experience, and qualifications; and mothers are offered significantly lower starting pay. Study participants offered non-mothers an average of $11,000 more than mothers for the same high salaried job as equally qualified non-mothers.
Dr. Shelley Correll's groundbreaking research released in 2005 is a compelling addition to the long line of studies that explore the roots of this maternal wage gap. This study, like others, also found that the wage gap wasn't linked to self-limiting factors that might cause a wage gap, like mothers taking more time off to care for children, but in actuality is fairly straightforward discrimination. In other words, it's not mothers' "fault" they receive less pay.
We need to open a whole new conversation about motherhood in the twenty-first century by illuminating the universal needs of America's mothers and spelling out concrete solutions that will provide families — whether rich, poor, or middle class — with real relief.
The good news is there are plenty of workplace success stories, and we can learn from these successes. Our country can change—and together we can launch the movement to see to it that it does.
To spark this deeply important motherhood revolution, we introduce our Manifesto Points. Specifically, we ask every American to support:
*M = Maternity/Paternity Leave: Paid family leave for all parents after a new child comes into the family.
*O = Open Flexible Work: Give parents the ability to structure their work hours and careers in a way that allows them to meet both business and family needs. This includes flexible work hours and locations, part-time work options, as well as the ability to move in and out of the labor force to raise young children without penalties.
*T = TV We Choose & Other After School Programs: Give families safe, educational opportunities for children after the school doors close for the day, including: Create a clear and independent universal television rating system for parents with technology that allows them to choose what is showing in their own homes; support quality educational programming for kids; increase access to, and funding, for after school programs.
*H = Healthcare for All Kids: Provide quality, universal healthcare to all children.
*E = Excellent Childcare: Quality, affordable childcare should be available to all parents who need it. Child care providers should be paid at least a living wage and healthcare benefits.
*R = Realistic and Fair Wages: Two full-time working parents should be able to earn enough to adequately care for their family. In addition, working mothers must receive equal pay for equal work.
By tackling these interconnected problems together — rather than in isolation — we create a powerful system of support for families. No mother should have to choose between caring for her infant and buying food for her children. Working together, we can improve the quality of our lives. And we can make sure our children inherit a world in which they will thrive as adults and future parents.
The Motherhood Manifesto is a call to action, summoning all Americans — mothers, and all who have mothers — to start a revolution to make motherhood compatible with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
MoveOn.org Political Action is entirely funded by our 3.3 million members. We have no corporate contributors, no foundation grants, no money from unions. To support the work of MoveOn.org, go to: