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What if it was never easier to be a working parent?

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Above all, childcare and work management issues that had long been viewed as private family matters suddenly emerged, making the needs of working parents a topic that resonated in wards. conference and state capitals across the country.

The potential implications were profound: Not only could the pandemic help recalibrate the answer to a question like “Who picks up a sick child from school?” But that could also change drastically if workplaces look askance at the parent who takes time off work to do so. More fundamentally, a number of policy ideas inspired by the pandemic, if realized, could make it easier for working parents, especially women, to balance work and childcare, as well as increase the gender equality at work and at home and overturn ingrained gender norms. on caregiving.

“It sounds like an Overton window, where you have increased public dialogue, but you also have the public will to really change and reflect on women’s experiences in the workforce,” C. Nicole Mason, President and CEO general of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, said in an interview this summer.

About half of mothers of children under 18 worked full time last year. For white-collar workers and women in clerical jobs, who were more likely to benefit from increased work flexibility, possible reforms held particular promise.

But optimism is fading, in part because of Washington. The Biden administration and Democrats in Congress indicated earlier this year that federally-paid family and medical leave was a priority in the president’s domestic spending program – but the plan was slashed by 12 weeks to four weeks, then was removed from the frame entirely. President Biden announced Thursday.

“As you can see, the window is closing,” Dr. Mason said last week.

Now, as the pandemic recedes and everyday life begins to return to normal, some working mothers fear that nothing will change much.

“People are finally seeing how important child care is in our society,” said Kristen Shockley, associate professor of psychology at the University of Georgia who studies the intersection of work and family life. “But is this going to translate into a way our society values ​​caregiving? I am less optimistic about this.


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