Times are tough for working moms, and this isn’t my opinion – it’s a cold, hard fact. Even before the pandemic, working moms found themselves a living yo-yo, bouncing from one direction to the next, and never really feeling comfortable that they were giving anything the amount of attention it deserved.
Then, add in a pandemic – one that just won’t seem to let up. In most families, moms have been the primary parent responsible for figuring out the rollercoaster of childcare and schooling. We’ve been caught in a never-ending hurricane of closed daycares, virtual instruction – while running your own virtual meetings, finally sending the kids back to school – only to have them shipped back home for a few weeks, quarantines, vaccines, and testing! This mom gig has been a tricky, unpredictable business lately. Managing a demanding career with the myriad of pandemic and life challenges has left an awful lot of extraordinarily competent women grasping at straws.
According to December 2020 research by Great Place to Work and the healthcare company Maven, working moms were 28 percent more likely to experience exhaustion than fathers. While it is entirely fair to say that everyone has suffered a change in their mental health during the pandemic, according to the American Psychological Association’s March 2021 Stress in America Report, a larger share of mothers (39 percent) than fathers (25 percent) said their mental health has worsened.
Moving beyond burnout and mental health, I don’t think it comes as a surprise to anyone that women still face significant equity issues in the workplace. The pandemic has only widened the gap and spotlighted the unequal challenges facing women. It can seem like we are constantly bumping up against glass ceilings or getting slowed down by sticky floors.
In 2021, the pay gap was 18%. That means that women can expect to earn 82 cents for every dollar a man makes. Equal Pay Day is Saturday, April 22, 2022. This date symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. I don’t know about you but losing three months of salary because of my gender certainly isn’t okay with me.
On June 4, 2021, Newsweek magazine ran a cover story where the headline was “$598,096 – What the Pandemic Will Cost Working Women – This is how much a typical woman stands to lose in lifetime income due to COVID. For college-educated women, it’s $785,759.” The article elaborated that women making six figures could easily lose more than $1 million. I’m not going to lie; my heart stopped when I read that stat. I, of course, purchased the magazine and spent the evening devouring it. Much of these startling stats come from the fact that women bore the lion’s share of caring for their children during the pandemic, which resulted in more than 4.5 million women leaving the workforce. This has become known in the media as the “Shecession,” and I hate that we have a trendy term for this.
I am happy to say, though, I’ve seen some glimmers of hope. How many of us have personally witnessed women making decisions around their employment that are FINALLY beginning to prioritize themselves? Many women are deciding that on some level, either working from home or hybrid working situations are healthy for themselves and their families. I’ve also witnessed women leaving jobs that weren’t fulfilling their professional and often personal needs. This is one media-coined term that excites me a bit, “The Great Resignation.”
Delving into these stats and the personal anecdotes sparked a kernel of an idea that has been germinating in my mind throughout the last year. Working mothers, particularly those functioning at a high level, need some support and skills to help them navigate these challenges.
The last year led me to develop “M.E.L.D. – Mothers. Executives. Leaders. Development,” a new, 12-month program that will connect a group of like-minded women and busy professionals. The program will provide confidence, tools, and strategic training. I want to see women becoming the best executives, leaders, mothers, and friends that they can be.
This new program is genuinely a labor of love for me, and I believe there are fundamental tools and work that women can do to help themselves overcome some of the challenges I talked about at the beginning of this post. One of the pieces that I believe will be the program’s most impactful and powerful experiences is connecting with other women experiencing similar challenges. I know that the support from a group of resilient, resourceful women is unlike any other support structure. I’m really excited to not only be in a room leading the experience, but I’m truthfully also looking forward to what I will learn and gain from this cohort.
So maybe you are wondering if this program is right for you. There are some common characteristics among women who would benefit from M.E.L.D, and here are a few that come to mind:
I am very hopeful about M.E.L.D. and the impact and perhaps even small movement we can develop here in Pittsburgh. I hope if you see yourself in any of what I’ve shared here, you will check out the program and consider applying. Also, don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions – I’d love to connect.