For Working Women, a Mixed Blessing
Women are now the majority of the workforce, and they're performing admirably.
During this week’s State of the Union Address, President Donald Trump touted a particular statistic that we thought worth exploring: “The unemployment rate for women reached the lowest level in almost 70 years. And, last year, women filled 72% of all new jobs added.”
That’s great news for women seeking work (although one wouldn’t know it by watching the stone-faced, white-clad, Trump-hating Democrat women in attendance). But, not surprisingly, many women would rather be at home with their kids.
“Nearly 60 percent of Americans — and a majority of both registered Republicans and registered Democrats — believe that children are better off with one parent at home than they would be in a day-care arrangement,” John Hirschauer writes at National Review. He adds, “Beyond the practical effects of day-care on children, many parents — even those already in the workforce — would prefer to be home with their children” if they had the choice and if they could afford it. A 2015 Gallup poll backs up this claim.
Of course, this flies in the face of the notion that American mothers are being held captive in their own homes; that they’re itching to hand off their kids to babysitters or day-care centers in order to enter the workforce. And yet it seems Democrats would rather see them out there earning a paycheck instead of at home with their children.
Democrats are pushing for federally funded childcare instead of creating tax incentives that would enable mothers to stay at home during their children’s formative years and pay the bills. They want government to foot the daycare bill as an incentive for Mom to get back to work as quickly as possible. Stay-at-home moms, meanwhile, would be on their own.
Generally, the idea of women at work is viewed by liberals and conservatives as a sign of a modern, egalitarian society. Republicans, after all, cheered the president’s mention of the high employment numbers for women. But there’s one factor that makes the issue more complex: nature.
The Washington Examiner’s Suzanne Venker writes, “We envision ourselves progressive when it comes to women and work, but women are still (and always will be) the sex that gets pregnant.”
This doesn’t mean that women can’t or shouldn’t work. Women are now the majority of the workforce, and they’re performing admirably. But something is missing. Many childless, career-driven women feel unfulfilled by a career alone. Meanwhile, the negative effects of a society with large numbers of unemployed men are only recently being understood.
“Men have an innate desire to protect and to provide for their families,” Venker adds, “but most women (unless they’re single mothers) work for different reasons: for autonomy, for extra income, or because they believe that without work, they aren’t valuable. (Not true, but you can thank feminists for that.) Whatever the reason, it’s not because they have a desire to support a husband.”
The issue of working mothers will be wrestled with for years to come, but one thing is already clear: Simply providing them with government subsidies won’t address the range of societal issues that affect the quality of their lives and the lives of their families.