Women, Work, and Family: Barbara Katz Rothman

Women, work, and familyIvanka Trump’s best seller Women Who Work has reignited debate about how women can balance personal and professional success, and Professor Barbara Katz Rothman (GC/Baruch, Sociology), an expert on motherhood in the modern age, has been weighing in on the topic.

She recently spoke to Wallethub.com about the types of corporate and government policies that will support parents in creating close-knit, financially stable families.
In a follow-up conversation with the GC, she addressed additional issues about women, work, and the policies that can enhance family life.

GC: Why do you think U.S. girls and women have excelled academically but continue to struggle to compete in the workplace?

Barbara Katz Rothman the Graduate Center, CUNYKatz Rothman: Education in the United States occurs in an interesting little bubble. In the early years, women are most of the teachers, often the principals and other administrators. In the university setting, women lose that edge in some disciplines but retain it in others. The bottom line, though, is that the expectations for kids — math and spelling tests, attendance, essays — are mostly not shaped by gender. Once those people get through school, the job market is far more gender-focused, even now; and within any given job category, men tend to be taken more seriously, mentored more effectively, and groomed for upward mobility. Sadly that is even true in women-dominated occupations; men have an edge in nursing, in early education. 

You have said that gender-neutral child care leave policies would help families, particularly same-sex couples. Do you think we’ll see more of these types of policies at the state or federal level anytime soon?
We are not at a very hopeful moment in terms of federal policy about family policy, and it is frankly pretty terrifying for same-sex couples.  I'd like to see the states take some of the lead here, but we know that many of our states are cutting back rather than expanding the rights of same-sex families. 
Which countries have been particularly successful in helping parents balance careers and child care?
It's rather like looking at medical insurance policies or national funding for education — the United States is an outlier. It is always so very hard to explain to people who live in the developed world that schools in the United States are funded locally so poor families have less money spent on their kids; that we do not provide healthy free lunches to all of our children in school; that we do not provide basic essential medical services to poor adults or to poor children; and that we do not give poor families time to take care of their children when they are newborns or when they are sick. 

Submitted on: MAY 31, 2017

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