Working mom opens up about difficulty of having 'it all' — here's why #MomBias is real

Sheera Frenkel, a reporter for the New York Times, opened up on Twitter about the difficulty of being a working mom. Frenkel appeared on a last-minute TV spot Tuesday morning after waking up at 5 a.m. to feed her daughter. (Photo: MNSBC)

After scrambling through breastfeeding and getting her 1-year-old dressed so she could make it to a last-minute TV spot on MSNBC, Sheera Frenkel took to Twitter to shed light on the plight of working moms. A cybersecurity reporter for the New York Times, Frenkel said appearing on TV in time took a lot of hustle and a little luck (in this case, her mom being free to babysit her little one on no notice).

Ultimately, Frenkel did appear on TV in time, so her account isn’t a story of a failure. Rather, she says, it’s an anecdote that sheds light on the obstacles plaguing working moms today. “This is just one example of how the system isn’t set up for moms, and why doing it all, at work and at home, is often a s***show.”

Her Twitter thread — which is eliciting its own reactions on the platform — is an important glimpse into the challenges working mothers face each day. In other words, Frenkel, in her struggle to “have it all,” is far from alone. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, working moms are the norm in the U.S., with almost 70 percent of moms with a child under 18 currently participating in the workforce.

Of those 25 million working moms, over 75 percent work full time — and do it while earning less than their childless counterparts. This pay inequity, which is referred to as the “motherhood penalty,” was the subject of a March study from the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, which offered sobering statistics on this worsening trend.

The wage gap between women with kids and without widens with every additional child, according to the research. Women with one child, for example, earn 14 percent less than their childless counterparts — even when controlling for their education level. Women with two children earn 18 percent less, and women with three or more earn 24 percent less.

But pay isn’t the only thing docked when women become mothers. Myriad studies in the past decade have shown that employers view mothers as “less competent” than their childless peers overall. It’s the same reason that stay-at-home mothers are half as likely to get a job interview as those who have been laid off, according to the Harvard Business Review.

In addition to these changes in perception, women who choose (or are forced) to juggle work and motherhood often lack basic assistance from their jobs. According to a 2016 report from the Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor, only 11 percent of working mothers are offered childcare assistance, and just 6 percent have access to flexible work benefits (such as working from home).

In a New York Times article in May, journalist Katherine Goldstein suggested that perhaps this is the next wave of the #MeToo movement, addressing all the facets that make up the “anti-mom bias” in the workplace. “If we haven’t heard much from mothers yet, I’m hopeful we’ll hear more soon,” Goldstein wrote. “We are living in unprecedented times for women raising their voices, loudly. … If the dam of silence ever starts to break, I believe we’ll soon begin to hear a lot of mothers saying #MomsToo.”

Frenkel may not be breaking the dam, but at the very least she’s making waves.

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