Super Bowl, Super Tuesday, Super Mom
by Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner
Surfing for the Super Bowl scores the other night, I came across a CNN poll asking people if they were more excited about the Super Bowl or Super Tuesday. To my surprise, significantly more were excited about Super Tuesday. Change is in the air; people young and old have caught a patriotic fever.
My very own 9-year-old daughter the other night was counting change in her piggy bank and lifted the coins up in her hand with a question: "Mom, except Sacajawea, there are only men on these coins. Why hasn't a woman been president yet? We need more women on these coins." She went on, "Isn't one running. Let's go help Hillary Clinton be president." And my 11-year-old son is for Barack Obama in our split household -- a school essay came home last week featuring Obama as the person he'd most like to meet one day.
Considering that last time I looked, more people knew the hometown of the fictional Simpsons family than what party carried the majority in Congress -- and that voting rates have taken a dive over the past several decades -- this turn of across-the-spectrum citizen engagement gives hope for the very future of our, well, democracy.
And now it's Super Tuesday and everyone -- even small children -- are talking about how we're making history.
No doubt about it, the very faces at the top of the ticket are making history. But while we've made huge jumps in changing the faces at the top of the ticket, we can't forget that the most important changes are the policy changes still to come which are now critically needed for our nation's families; and we can't forget that a struggle is going on everyday in homes, in state capitals, and in Washington D.C. which also needs our rapt attention.
Sadly the pure sexiness of refreshing candidates isn't an antidote to family policies which are still stuck in the 1950s -- even as other countries have adapted their family policies to reflect the fact that three-quarters of mothers are now in the labor force and more often than not both parents now work. And unfortunately this golden moment doesn't change the fact that, economically, women and families are losing ground -- that the very laws which protect us from basic discrimination in the workplace are being rolled back. That we are failing our families.
What hasn't changed in this campaign cycle is what issues the candidates are decidedly NOT talking about as they vie for our highest office: The fact that equally qualified women still make significantly less than men for the same job. The fact that we have a long way to go with respect to family-friendly policies -- like paid family leave, childcare, flexible work options, and sick days -- which are the norm in the rest of the world, and which lessen the maternal wage gaps. The fact that even though a full 82% of American women have children by the time they are 44 years old, many never even see the glass ceiling because they can't get over the Maternal Wall.
Here's what the Maternal Wall looks like: Women without children make 90 cents to a man's dollar, women with children make 73 cents, and single mothers make the least at about 60 cents to a man's dollar. In fact, the American Journal of Sociology recently reported a study which found that mothers are 79% less likely to be hired than non-mothers with equal resumes and job experiences. Sadly, that wasn't a typo you just read. The study really found that mothers are 79% less likely to be hired. Maternal Profiling is alive and well.
So, while it may be the week of the Super Bowl and Super Tuesday, it's not such a super time for mothers and families.
You see the candidates are talking about important issues like global warming and Iraq -- but it turns out that some key issues central to mothers and families aren't getting the attention they deserve; particularly considering that there are 80.4 million mothers in America, and that a full quarter of families with children under six years old are living in poverty.
We need our superstar candidates, our young people, our newly, and our always engaged people to roll up our sleeves together to address these issues.
Since these issues aren't in the limelight yet, MomsRising.org has created a Presidential Bingo Card so you can tally where each candidate stands on family-friendly policies -- and then take action with us by calling for the issues of women, of mothers, and of families to take center stage where they belong.
Join with MomsVote '08 right now in asking all the presidential candidates one simple question: "If I vote for you, how will you create a more family-friendly America?"
There are 80.4 million mothers in America, and women make up 54% of the voters. There's a lot of justifiable excitement for what's going on this year -- for what's going on today with Super Tuesday -- but in order to make sure that excitement turns into real change, these candidates have got to start publicly recognizing the importance of the issues which impact mothers and families. I don't want to be counting change with my future granddaughter and explaining to her why women still make less than men for the same job.
Note: This article originally appeared at The Huffington Post.
Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner is a co-founder and Executive Director of MomsRising.org. She is co-author (with Joan Blades) of The Motherhood Manifesto, which makes the case that it's time for a broad change in America's support for mothers and families. The Motherhood Manifesto identifies and challenges the obstacles facing working mothers today, and proposes concrete solutions. In 2007, The Motherhood Manifesto book won the Ernesta Drinker Ballard Book Prize. Rowe-Finkbeiner is also author of The F-Word: Feminism in Jeopardy, which was awarded first place by the Independent Book Publishers Association in the category of Women's Issues.
MomsRising.org is an organization working to build a truly family-friendly nation. Started in May, 2006, MomsRising uses the power of online organizing in coordination with grassroots activities and media outreach to educate the public about problems facing American families and to propose common sense solutions. MomsRising.org provides citizens with an opportunity to amplify their voices and to take their concerns to leaders who are in positions to implement real changes.
Find us and join us at MomsRising.org.