For the past five years, the community-driven lifestyle brand Motherly has conducted the largest statistically-significant survey of U.S. mothers. Co-founder and CEO of Motherly Jill Koziol explains how the annual State of Motherhood study not only validates hypotheses about working motherhood it also arms today’s mothers with data to advocate for change:
“This data is a reckoning for employers who must internalize and recognize that it is no longer a nice to have to support working mothers, but rather a business imperative — working mothers are essential to our country’s economic future and competitiveness.”
Working Mothers: The Most Educated Cohort In Today’s Workforce
The pandemic has, undoubtedly, played a prominent role in the change in statistics from 2018 until now. Four years ago, when I reported the findings, 58% of working moms still planned on having more children. This year (and for the first time), that percentage dropped 16 percentage points to just 42% of millennial and Gen Z moms intending to have another child.
“Companies have invested in the training and education of their female workforce only to find that when they become mothers, a leaky pipeline of talent begins. This has led to an unconscious bias against women, and specifically mothers, that has had huge economic implications,” explains Koziol.
Koziol adds that in the past, companies have gotten by without addressing this leaky pipeline of female talent because there has been a substantial educated male workforce to make up the delta.
“Women have been layering roles – layering household, child care, and professional responsibilities with little additional support from society, corporations, or government. However, the millennial generation is the first generation in history in which women are more educated than men. Therefore, companies and our economy must figure out how to keep educated women working in the workforce once they enter motherhood. As importantly, they must invest in re-onboarding and reintegrating mothers as they return to work.”
Without Addressing Issues, The Great Resignation Will Continue
In 2018, 56% of moms under 30 changed their work status after becoming a parent. Today, because the pandemic shifted employers to offer more work options like working from home and flexible schedules, just 18% of moms need more work flexibility.
While fewer Gen Z and millennial mothers plan to expand their families, more mothers are primary income earners. For example, 47% of moms surveyed this year contribute more than half of the household income. In 2018, 37% of moms contributed half or more to their household incomes.
Unfortunately, despite being primary breadwinners in their families, mothers continue to bear both the physical and mental load of motherhood disproportionately more than their partners. Without addressing issues like the motherhood penalty, affordable childcare, parental leave, and creating flexible work options that enable working mothers to integrate their work and mothering responsibilities, The Great Resignation will continue.
An Increase In Mom Activists
Since 2018, mothers in the U.S. have lived through midterm elections, a government shutdown, a global pandemic, racial injustice protests, the 2020 presidential election, and a U.S. Capitol attack.
Assumably, while explaining these unfathomable events to their children, they became more curious about legislation, social issues, and policy. (Related, many moms who participated in the State of Motherhood study are parents to generation Alpha, a group in which nearly 1 in 5 members have already taken part in a march or protest on an issue they care about.)
As a result, compared to five years ago, there’s been a dramatic increase in mothers interested in legislation and policy geared toward improving the lives of families. For example, in 2018, 49% of millennial and Gen Z moms surveyed felt better policies around paid leave would help them feel supported. In 2022, 77% of moms feel that way.
“While we have not yet seen true legislative change at the national level, Motherly’s annual State of Motherhood study gives mothers a voice in a large scale statistically significant way. Moreover, it empowers them and their allies to advocate for change inside their families, their employers, and their votes in political elections,” Koziol notes.
For more detailed findings, read the study here.