Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that since jobs like construction and manufacturing are being lost at a rapid pace, and since the majority of workers in these fields are male, women have almost surpassed men in terms of employment.
In fact, 82 percent of job losses have been to males while women now make up 49 percent of the workforce. This isn’t because women are being hired more; it’s simply because women hold traditional jobs in such areas as education that are not affected as rapidly as other positions.
That said, an article I ran across on Inc.com made me stop and think about this. In it, Dr. Mary Murphee of Rutger’s University wondered if women would start to feel pressured because of the loss of jobs, and if this pressure would in turn be felt when they wanted to request maternity leave or time off to raise children.
Suddenly, something that we all took for granted for a while — the ability to stay at home for a few years and raise our young children — may be at jeopardy.
When I decided to remain at home with my first daughter four years ago, the economy was booming. People drove large cars and lived high on the hog, buying expensive houses, dressing in the best clothes, and shelling out big bucks for organic food and skin care products.
Return to work right away? No! I was going to stay at home with that cute little baby for as long as I could.
Now we have a recession, a struggling economy, and fathers losing jobs. And many of these job cuts may be affecting new parents. The husband may now be unemployed and unable to find a job while mom may have to go back to work.
Unfortantely a close friend of mine is in this situation; her husband lost his job with a major company for whom he had worked over 20 years. This was a large firm that dwindled away employee by employee. He knew the ax was coming, but it hurt all the same.
This family has a new daughter. Mom wanted to remain at home for a while, but the tables have turned: Now he is staying at home caring for the baby while the mother goes out and works. The economy and his job loss dictate that he will be at home. In the interim he is taking night classes at a local college to further develop his skills so that in the near future he can hopefully return to the job force.
Of course, this potential to lose a job may affect other mothers as well, even those whose husbands are still working. It’s tough to feel certain in this economy that tomorrow you will have a job, or you will find clients, or you will sell your products and services as you did five years ago.
Since that is the case, how many mothers can feel confident about requesting a leave of absence to stay at home? And even if they do take the plunge, I would assume that during their stay at home they must certainly question whether the job will still be there when they decide to return.
And in this country, where our maternity leave is so poor as it is and in many jobs, an extended time off is unpaid. That makes it especially tough to feel comfortable staying at home and losing that income.
Will this change the way that women who are having children in the next few years respond? Will they stop staying at home for extended periods of time following the arrival of a baby, and return to work immediately?
Will more companies opt to have daycare centers on site, now that many women feel as though they have to go back to work shortly after the baby is born? This would certainly be a positive move, if companies could afford to do so: Not only would it help out mom and keep her on the job, but it would also employ a few additional people in the childcare facility.
Or will men become more apt to remain at home following baby’s birth while women continue to work? Will we suddenly see a rise of stay-at-home dads?
What are your thoughts? Has this affected you? If it has or soon will, how are you expecting to handle it?