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Moms On Issues

with Sara and Veronica

We're two moms with different backgrounds, jobs and points of view, writing about our opinions on the political and social issues affecting working moms. We'll also keep our eye on the media and the celebrity mom world to highlight issues that are relevant to your life.

Check out our personal blogs: Veronica's Blog and Sara's Blog

Happy New Year!

Categories: career, caregiving, raising baby

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Ah, the Monday after New Year’s. The day when most kids are headed back to the classroom and parents head back to their offices (whether or not they are in their PJs). The holidays are past us, we’re scraping the bottom of the cookie tin, and wondering if we really are going to use that Wii Fit to lose weight (I wouldn’t know, we’re Wii-free). But let’s grab another cuppa coffee/tea/chai and head into the new year with gusto. Yes, let’s Work it, Moms!

Here are my hopes for all of us for 2009:

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If the position doesn’t pay, does it command respect?

Categories: career, feminism, moms in the news, politics


No, this isn’t another “don’t blog for free” treatise, but close. One of the electoral victories for women is that the New Hampshire Senate now has a women majority.

New Hampshire’s state Senate will carve history for the Granite State in January when the legislative body convenes with women in 13 of the 24 seats forming the country’s first female majority.

Women will also factor in key positions of leadership: the Senate is presided over by its president, Sylvia Larson, and president pro-tem, Maggie Hassan, while Martha Fuller Clark continues her role as majority whip.

This is certainly significant as New Hampshire would be the experiment we have been waiting for to see if you do put women in charge if things would end up any differently, specifically in a better place. But one thing has put this experiment in some doubt – pay.

States such as New Hampshire and New Mexico, whose elected officials receive no compensation, tend to have a higher percentage of female representatives, says Ziegler, because the sessions are less time-consuming and the expectations and compensation are such that the people who serve think of themselves as public servants rather than professional politicians.

Ziegler goes on to parallel the New Hampshire and New Mexico legislatures to PTAs because of the no pay and smaller time commitments.

The PTA? Is that a correct parallel? My daughter is in kindergarten and I haven’t been snagged by one of the many committees at her school and based on a very unpopular question I asked at a parent meeting, I doubt I will be. But I don’t see the PTA as something that is not time consuming. Yes, less time consuming than being State Senator, but still pretty darn tough when you’re working and raising a family.

But back to this no pay thing…Would you be an elected official if there wasn’t any pay associated? The debate in freelance circles are “exposure” writers versus “pay-only” writers and then a huge group of writers in the middle. Are there gigs that might “pay for itself” in exposure? Yeah, I think so. Can being a State Senator of New Hampshire pay for itself in exposure? Incoming U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen [video link] is evidence that it can.

The debate occurring on blogs and listservs is whether or not the fact that women are the majority of New Hampshire’s Senate is a direct result of the non-pay AND if this means that being a state senator is less respected than in other states. Of course in my woman-head, I think that it shows more character to be a state senator for no money than to see people wrestle over a seat that pays a lot of money – Not knowing if they are in it for the service or for the pay. Maybe New Hampshire has cultivated a culture that commands respect for service, especially volunteer service.

Loyal readers…Would you run for an office for no pay? Anyone from New Hampshire who can shed a light on this amazing piece of history?

Michelle Obama and the working mom struggle

Categories: career, feminism, mommy wars, moms in the news


When I was a kid my parents worked weekends. My dad at his second job and my mom worked nights in a hospital. They worked their schedules out so that every other weekend my two younger sisters and I spent the weekend with my grandma. This allowed my grandmother to have a lot of influence on me. She tried to convince my younger sister and I that our beloved cousins in San Antonio never fought; unlike us who held championship matches almost every day. But the one lesson that stuck with me, even if I didn’t live it, was this – Boys can wait, education first, get a job, and then find a boyfriend.

Michelle Obama certainly lead her life with this mantra, that is until she met Barack. “Michelle was full of plans that day, on the fast track, with no time, she told me, for distractions — especially men.” He has freely admitted that Michelle is the one who put her career on a mommy-track (not that her career looks anything like the typical mommy-track, mind you, just next to Barack’s career) for the kids sake, for his career sake. And now she is to be the next First Lady.

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Dads contemplate their jobs’ affect on family too

Categories: career

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I don’t know why, but I’m always surprised when I hear fathers in important positions discuss openly their fears about work interfering with their family. We are so used to mothers bearing the brunt of the work-life balance decision, that we often forget that fathers share that burden as well. Two prominent fathers in the media this week publicly discussed their jobs’ potential affect on their families.

Before Rahm Emanuel accepted the position as president-elect Obama’s Chief of Staff, he seemed conflicted about whether or not to take on this demanding job.

He said, “I have a lot to weigh: the basis of public service, which I’ve given my life to, a career choice. And most importantly, what I want to do as a parent.” And added, “this is not a professional choice. This is a personal choice about what my wife and I want to do for our family, as much as what to do with my career.”

The media often publicizes mothers making those types of statements or being at the focus of such conversations. But in reality, these decisions weigh just as heavily on today’s fathers.

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She wore what? Campaign style

Categories: career, celebrities, media, moms in the news, politics


nullFact: My high school fashion sense made Ugly Betty look good.

Yes, that’s me circa 9th-10th grade. I was mugging with my BFF, thus the open mouth. I feel that it took me until my 30s to really find a comfortable style for myself. It’s a bit preppy, a bit vintage, and a bit whatever suits my fancy. Despite being such a fashion dork I’m enthralled by the fashion throw down that is occurring on the campaign trail. First we had Michelle Obama cause an uproar when she appeared on “The View” in a White/Black dress. I along with the rest of America went to their website and despite the fact that I had been in one of their stores just months earlier, I fell in love with their style. Recently she was spotted on the campaign trail in an H&M dress. For a woman who was tagged as the next Jackie Kennedy, she certainly is thrifty!

Next fashion uproar was about Cindy McCain’s dress at the convention. For a party that kept claiming to be fighting for the middle class, that price tag for one night’s outfit was quickly picked up by the liberal end of the political spectrum.

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Working Mother magazine names 100 Best Companies, but does it matter?

Categories: career, moms in the news


Leading up to a “big, big celebration” on October 30, Working Mother magazine recently published their list of 100 Best Companies for working mothers. The survey methodology seems rather straightforward - the magazine looked at qualities in companies such as workforce, compensation, child care, flexibility programs, leave policies and more. It also surveys the usage, availability and tracking of programs, as well as the accountability of managers who oversee them.

I’m glad to see that the magazine is taking into account the fact that peoples’ managers play a key role in shaping the environment in which mothers work. I’ve been saying for a long time, flexibility in work schedules isn’t possible without good managers.

But overall, my biggest issue with surveys like these is that they don’t dig deep enough into a workplace’s culture. While I’m glad to know that Bristol Myers Squibb “requires part-time employees to work only 14 hours per week to qualify for benefits, while the Moffitt Cancer Center requires only 10 hours,” I would rather know that BMS would let me leave at 3 p.m. to pick up my son from school if I was in a bind. Or that my boss wouldn’t bat an eyelash if I had to run out at lunch time for a much-needed teeth cleaning.

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Happy Columbus Day and welcome to the world of school holidays

Categories: career, caregiving


The high points of my childhood are now the bane of my existence – School holidays.

As a mom who works outside the home full-time, a day off is a fate worse than hell some days and I’m a lucky one. I work at a university in an office where I can bring the kid in and plop her down with crayons and homework. My partner’s office isn’t as fit for having a kindergartner hanging out for the day – It’s just too busy. When I do stop to grumble, like right now, I force myself to think about the moms and dads who work in factories, retail, restaurants, and other places that aren’t appropriate for kids.

Add to this my questioning of celebrating a day like Columbus Day where kids still learn about Christopher Columbus and the world he discovered. Thus the idea that the kids are off in celebration of a myth (Chris didn’t make it to North America) more than the history. I am moving towards the idea that we should keep kids in school for Columbus and MLK Jr. Day so that an entire day can be devoted to what they mean to us today and what their legacy really is.

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Does the chauvinist pig next to you make more because he’s sexist?

Categories: career, caregiving, feminism


A shocking, to some, study [pdf] came out last month in the Journal of Applied Psychology concluding that men who hold sexist ideals make more money than anyone else. So what does this mean to us working girls and the good guys out there?

For one it says that the workforce is still rewarding men for outdated attitudes. It is an indicator that the outdated model our workforce operates under rewards those who play the game according to the rules. This report also proves that wage gaps are not just an outcome for women’s poor decisions. You know, taking time off to care for children or other such frivolous things that signal to supervisors that you aren’t serious about your job. It puts a nail in the coffin of meritocracy. Yes, we should all continue to work our hardest, but never again should we allow someone (paging Senator McCain) tell us that hard work and being the best is the way that people rise to the top.

But most importantly this report tells us that legislation like the Equal Pay Act will only take us so far in the quest for equality and fairness.

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Do you feel guilty when you leave your kids for a trip? Or do you do the Carlton dance?

Categories: career


As I write hundreds of women are swarming into the Bay Area for Blogher (not me, I’m still here in Chicago!), many of them are moms and I guess that most of them left their kids at home. Over on Twitter I’ve seen at least two moms express guilt after leaving the kids for their weekend away. I also have a friend who is currently on a business trip who Twittered about having time to read a book and the big comfy chair in her hotel room.

I’ve just been accepted to a media training program out of the Women’s Media Center in New York City. This means that in the next nine weeks I’ll be traveling to the Big Apple three times. Yikes! While my daughter has been classified as a “wash & go” kid, she expresses more and more apprehension when it’s time for mama to hit the road. Luckily she’s still in love with mama so she’d be more than happy to come with than for me to just stay home. Yet when it’s time for me to say good-bye I do have a pang of guilt.

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What makes a working mom? Is every mom a working mom?

Categories: career, caregiving, mommy wars


Every mom a working mom This site is called “Work it, Mom!” and the tag line says, “a place where working moms connect/de-stress/share advise/find support.” Does that mean that we are only a place for 40-hour working outside the home moms? I say no.

After joining this community, I’ve had a few conversations with other moms about whether or not they would be welcome here. Moms who use to work full-time in an office but are not staying home, but also working freelance. Moms who never worked after they had their children but sell something in the evenings (make-up, jewelry, kitchen ware, etc.). Women who aren’t moms, but feel a kinship to their mommy friends.

My verdict? Everyone is welcome to this site and I’ll tell you why.

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