In a New York Times article today variously entitled “Why U.S. Women Are Leaving Jobs Behind,” or “The Flexibility Gap,” 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. 

“The Motherhood Trade-Off,” they sub-title the article, and describe the “lack of family-friendly policies” in the US.   

motherhood career : stressed african american businesswoman in office holding her little girl while talking on telephone

They begin with a young woman in Washington State, and note that “Her story would have played out differently, she said, if she had been living in her native England. Like many European countries, Britain offers a year of maternity leave, much of it paid, and protections for part-time workers, among other policies aimed at keeping women employed.”

They also note that “As recently as 1990, the United States had one of the top employment rates in the world for women, but it has now fallen behind many European countries. After climbing for six decades, the percentage of women in the American work force peaked in 1999, at 74 percent for women between 25 and 54. It has fallen since, to 69 percent today.  In many other countries, however, the percentage of working women has continued to climb.”

Interesting but disturbing reading.