We Need to Support Working Families

October 18, 2012
By Alex Showerman | 0 comments

By Mia Moore, Chief of Staff I was encouraged to hear womens and family issues addressed at Tuesday nights debate, and while Mitts comment about binders full of women is deserving of all of the memesit has spawned, I find the criticisms of another one of his remarks about women in the workforce a teeny bit unfair and quite misguided. Shortly after demonstrating his excitement about receiving binders full of women to consider for hire in Massachusetts state government, Mitt told the story about one of his employees needing to leave work on time to get home to her family, specifically because she wanted to get dinner on the table for her kids.While Mitt Romney showed just how antiquatedhis views on women in the work place are, he gets a couple of points in my book for "attempting" to be a supportive employer of a working mom. However, this issue goes far beyond individual employers. Mitt raised an interesting point that we need discuss more. In fact, I would argue that we need to take flexibility for workingfamiliesto a new level. To Mitt Romney, I would have asked him if he would grant a male employee the same flexibility to leave early and make dinner for his family? (Or, further, would that request even have come from a male employee?) What if this employees wife worked the second shift at a factory or a hospital, making it incumbent upon him to be home by five to get dinner on the table and help the kids with their homework? Or maybe shes a lawyer on the partner track who regularly works 80-hour weeks just to meet her bosss expectations. Perhaps Mitt gave this example to demonstrate his empathy toward working mothers, but Id like to see a workforce that supports entire working families. This would likely relieve some of that pressure we women are putting on ourselves to do it all. The reality is that only a fraction of the jobs parents hold can provide the flexibility Governor Romney exemplified. I am very lucky to work at DFA for many reasons, and heres a big one: When my son was born I had a generous maternity leave package and now that Im back at work, Ive been able to structure my work day to spend time with him in the evenings before he goes to bed. Teachers, police officers, nurses, assembly line workers and many other hardworking Americans have schedules that are set for them, not the other way around. They too should be confident their children are safe and happy, even when they are not with them. We need affordable, flexible childcare within our communities, so no parent is left scrambling when an emergency arises. In order for that childcare to be affordable for parents and equitable for providers, we need to consider government support. Private childcare centers dont provide a wide enough safety net. This isnt just about peace of mind for those parents; its about our economy as well. Stable childcare and healthy families mean fewer missed days and a stronger, more productive workforce. Im not the first to say it takes a village, and I wont be the last either. That village, Governor Romney, includes neighbors, friends, families, employers, and yes, our government.

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