In our post about the recent New York Times’ article, which we entitled The Motherhood Trade-Off, we noted that “the authors write about why working women in the US find it more difficult to return to work after having kids than their European counterparts.”


maternity leave : Stressed Woman With Newborn Baby Working From Home Using Laptop

We publish below some interesting comments on the post from knowledgeable folks around the world:

Danielle Hartmann, an HR specialist in the Basel area of Switzerland:

“Thanks for sharing this article.  As someone who recently relocated from the US to Switzerland, it is interesting to observe and live the differences in culture and work environments as they relate to career and family. Organizations can approach these issues differently depending on the outcome they seek (increase women’s workforce participation or increase women’s equality within the workforce). One set of policies will not necessarily help achieve the other.”

Paula Fonseca, a talent recruiter in the Salvador area of Brazil:

“Hi Richard, thank you for sharing. The lack of family friendly policies in the workplace is certainly one of the top reasons keeping out of the job market women who want a career.  I understand the U.S. is currently discussing paid maternity leave, but I live in a country that offers 6-month paid maternity leave and it is clear that it is not enough.

I was explaining to a friend from England this weekend how paid maternity leave impacts on the gender gap. I have been hearing from a lot of women around their 30’s and recently married about how hard it is to get a job or to get a promotion because employers presume that they will have kids soon and theirs projects at work will be left unfinished. This is one of the reasons why I defend equal time of leave for mothers and fathers.

Besides, giving mothers a different time of leave speaks about how we still think of child care as being a women’s duty and we all know this is not what we have been seeing in reality.”

David Bensman, a professor in the Department of Labor Studies and Employment Relations at Rutgers University:

“The article states that women leaving the paid labor force include both women with children and younger women without children. The article doesn’t say much about why young women are leaving the labor force.  

I would guess that unstable schedules are one reason, since they make it hard for people to continue their education. They also drive some young people into the informal labor market, so they’re not counted in the paid labor force.

In addition to unstable schedules, I think that the economic downturn that began in 2008 drove young people out of the labor force and discouraged many of them from trying to reenter. In addition to unstable schedules, the lack of family friendly policies on the part of governments and many employers also has driven women out of the paid labor force.

It is hard to believe that fewer American women are working for pay than are Japanese women, but that’s what the OECD data say.”

Lisa Hutchin, a labor relations specialist in Sacramento, CA:

“Many of us baby-boomers found ourselves in the unenviable position of having strangers rear our children while we dutifully went off to work (hooray, Women’s Lib). In retrospect, I would have much rather spent my time with my children, watching them take their first steps, play in the sandbox, grow.   Undoubtedly, young mothers today would like to do the same.

However, this all comes at a price. In countries where paid maternity leave is prevalent, I am certain that taxes are higher and/or the cost of goods and services are higher in order to offset the price tag of paid time off.   Are U.S. taxpayers willing to pay for this?  I doubt it.”