Working Mothers are Healthier, But Must Pay the Mommy Tax in the Meantime


Working women today are doing it all and doing it well! Years ago when our grandmothers were working in the home, stresses came from taking care of the kids, laundry, cooking and cleaning. Not that these weren’t tough jobs, but today’s woman is still doing most of the housework and is now working a full time job. And for many women, research is showing that having it all and doing it all may actually be better for a woman’s health! (click here for article)

For a long time, people wondered whether being a super mom was taking a toll on women’s health and happiness. After all, working over 40 hours a week only to come home, cook dinner, do the laundry, and play with your kids is tiring, stressful, and agonizingly difficult sometimes. Not to mention this leaves little time for exercise or stress reducing “me time” to read a book or take a relaxing bath. Yet one researcher at the University of Pennsylvania has found that working women are not only healthier than men, but they are healthier than other women overall. And, to be honest, it’s not surprising…

Keeping busy, staying active, and feeling a sense of accomplishment can do wonders for your psychological health and overall health. Plus, having financial freedom and opportunities to take control of our lives can’t help but be good for our soul and our health. Countless studies show that women in poverty have more stress, psychological distress, and are in worse health than wealthier women. And it can’t be ignored that employment opportunities have improved women’s economic status and allowed us to gain freedom over our lives in ways generations of women before us cannot imagine. This is of course in part due to women taking advantage of educational opportunities that were distant dreams for many of our grandmothers. Women today make up more than half of graduate degree programs including medical school-a traditionally male-dominated field.

Yet our workplace culture still treats work schedules as if we are living in the Leave It To Beaver days. Flexible work schedules, virtual working, and generous maternity and family leave will be important policy changes for companies to consider as women continue to enter the workforce. Let’s face it, there is still a “mommy tax” for women with children in the workforce. They don’t make as much money as women who choose not to have children-and the pay gap is actually larger between these women than between men and women overall. And the mommy tax may even, if not overtly, keep some women from getting promoted or even getting hired in the first place. For some companies, choosing to hire a mother of a toddler who might take more frequent days off is a productivity risk they are not eager to take. Not to mention, the jobs that are traditional female jobs (teaching,nursing, administrative tasks) tend to have more flexible schedules but also pay much less than, say, a job in a successful firm. Successful firms have higher pay increases but much more demanding schedules-schedules that are nearly impossible for women that want to be both a successful businesswomen and a mother.

Even though women are doing it all-we have to make it easier for them to do it all, get the promotion (and the salary that it deserves), make it to the soccer game, and still stay healthy and happy! We shouldn’t have to make a choice to be a super mom or a CEO. We’re facing much different stresses than our grandmothers, but they are welcome challenges, and, may actually improve the health of women in the 21st century!

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