Someone Has To Give Birth! Why Women Shouldn’t Be Penalized For Being A Mom

Swans And Their BabiesI was at a cocktail party the other night, and after several stiff vodka tonics, a female manager-level friend, “Julia”, began complaining about one of her staff.

She came up to me and said, “Sam, what am i going to do?  Nancy keeps getting pregnant!  She’s having her third child in the past 5 years, and now I’ve got to find cover for her again!” After Julia’s rant, she twirled her way to a slick looking fella at the bar and began chatting him up.

Initially I tried empathizing with Julia, given I do remember the feeling of having to cover for someone when they’re “sick“. But Nancy’s case is different.  After all, someone has to give birth, and after seeing one too many sex ed video’s from the 9th grade with images of globulous placentas seared in my mind, i’m glad it’s not me!  The Europeans would argue a 3 month maternity leave is not long enough given they practice a 6 month healing process.

Julia’s complaint brings us to the great debate:

Is it fair or even true that women are discriminated against and make less money than men on average?

“YES IT’S FAIR!”

Julia, the manager is a single woman, in her mid-40’s who absolutely believes hiring women is more expensive than hiring men. Interesting twist huh?  Her rationale is that men never have babies, and therefore never take 3 months off.  Women, on the other hand do, and yet Julia still must pay her 12 months worth of work.  Julia explains to me that if Nancy had one more kid (making it 4), she’d have a full year off and be paid a full year’s salary!  Julia also points out that she’s had two women resign on her after giving birth, causing her further stress.

Not only does Julia thinks it’s fair to pay women less, Julia believes Nancy’s absence is unfair to her colleagues who aren’t having babies, especially those who have to pick up the slack.  Julia may pay Nancy for 12 months worth of work, but she might think twice about giving her the normal year-end bonus.

Julia argues that maternity leave is an optional benefit, and not everybody has the option to take that benefit because 1) not everyone is a woman, and 2) not every woman has children.  Julia has worked for 15 years in the business and has never taken maternity leave.

“NO IT’S NOT FAIR!”

I, on the other hand am thinking, if a woman can carry a child in her womb for nine months while working, then go through a multi-hour labor ordeal, she should easily deserve 3 months off and be paid her full salary!  My sister once told me giving birth for males is like trying to shoot a bowling ball out of our butts. I cannot imagine.

Females didn’t choose to be the ones to give birth, someone else did.  Furthermore, if you asked all the men out there to switch places, the vast majority would say NO WAY.  I guarantee it.

If I was the main colleague responsible for picking up the slack, I would be  fine so long as I had a sit down with my manager explaining that I expect to be compensated appropriately, or that expectations of me should be altered given my dual roles.  This then goes back to Julia’s point.

Do we take from Nancy’s income to pay someone for covering?  If so, on paper, the incomes show inequality, but in reality some may argue compensation is flowing to where work is being conducted.

CONCLUSION 

The income inequality gap has closed tremendously.  But, i never really thought about the anti-equal pay argument from a woman until Julia stumbled up to me that fine night complaining.  It’s generally managers secretly complaining about women, and new mother’s complaining about the unfair perceptions complaining folks have! At the end of that one night of passion, someone has to give birth eventually. And since that someone is female, they should get as much slack as possible.

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Keiju,

Financial Samurai – “Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries”

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. says

    Samurai, I appreciate your thoughtful insight into this matter. Women shouldn’t be penalized for being women. I’m surprised that this 40 something manager is so harsh but then she may pass judgement because she’s made different life choices. As a father and someone who watched his wife go through a short maternity leave, we in America really don’t get it. I don’t know what the perfect answer is because probably everything would cost more (insurance premiums, lowered perks, etc.) if you gave women more time with their babies but it’s worth it. If the women want it let them have it. It will lead to good things. Moms need to bond with their children. It’s good for society. It’s good for the world.
    Jerry

    • says

      Jerry – Thanks for your thoughts. I think the 40-something yr old manager might very well be upset that she herself doesn’t have kids and a family. Who knows for sure. Everybody has their own gripes.

      Look forward to seeing you around!

    • says

      Sara – Maybe not, but do companies need 6 months (not 9) to even plan I would think 3 months of planning, or even 1-2 months should suffice to hold down the fort for the 3 months the woman is out no?

  2. says

    I think that maternity and paternity leave is fine as far as protecting the job – but no one should be paid (by anyone, gov’t or business) for that time off. If you can’t afford to take the time off, YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO HAVE A KID. Personally, I think that the tax break for children should be taken away, as well, and for the same reason.
    .-= Honey´s last blog ..Beautifulpeople.com gives 5000 Fatties the Boot =-.

    • says

      @ Honey – As a woman, you provide interesting perspective. Being able to afford a kid is an interesting topic we’ll be discussing here in the future. If one can’t afford to take care of one’s own finances, why have kids in the first place? One maybe, two OK, but 3, 4, 5?!

  3. financialwizardess says

    I’m not at all surprised that a female manager would be less understanding than a male. 1) she’s bitter about her own situation and 2) she doesn’t worry about being called sexist.

    I do wonder where you come up with 3 months leave. I just gave birth 3 months ago and have been back at work for 8 weeks now. :) We get 6 weeks, as do most short term disability firms. The rest of the 3 months you can take UNPAID per FMLA. At least, that’s how it works here. So it’s not really like you’re getting 3 months of your salary. I got 6 weeks at 80% of salary paid thru my insurance.

  4. B says

    At some point, all of us require something from the system that some others do not require. In this case, those babies are going to grow up to be the ones working and paying into the system that will be supporting all of us when we are elderly and no longer economically productive. They will be contributing to our support, lifestyles, and to the maintenance of our nation’s infrastructure and systems whether or not we actually had and supported to adulthood children of our own. For that reason, whining about the cost of doing business when it comes to employees and coworkers having children and taking time to do it well is shortsighted and the height of self-absorbed selfishness.

    • says

      That is a good point that potentially and perhaps one day these kids will grow up to be productive members of society and give back. After all, we need tons more youth to support the aging during social security which is why Germany and Japan have big problems!

      Great comment.

  5. says

    Wonderful topic with good points from both sides. I think with businesses it comes down to the ROI on an employee. If an employee can provide enough value for the company, then accommodations aren’t so troublesome.

    If employers want to hire less women as a precaution, then they’re limiting themselves. Like Neal Suggested, they may want to start their own business or they’ll find a company where they can use their talents.

  6. kosjen says

    Some countries in Europe, including where I live, have not just 6, but 12 months of maternity/paternity leave. Maybe since we don’t have so much immigration problems as United States, there is a perspective that children are NEEDED (because of everything “B” already wrote) and that the whole society IS responsible to provide support for working parents. Such support can come from the government, not necessarily just employers.

    Not unreasonable support that irresponsible people might abuse (and some people will find a way to abuse just about anything), but healthy support from people who take an easier road in life to people who carry double burden. Most of posters here don’t seem to understand just how demanding and exhausting it is to raise kids.

    This discussion focuses mostly on economical aspects, but what about human aspect? The society is responsible to create laws that are for the overall benefit and health of society. There can be no healthy and happy society if women are forced to choose between children and career, or discriminated. It’s not all about money. There can be no happiness and health wherever the focus is on money only.

    I’m surprised at Honey’s comment… sounds like “only wealthy people should be allowed to have kids!” Not many people can be wealthy, there is a limited number of really well-paid jobs. Most people will inevitably end up working for somebody else, who will almost inevitably pay them a bare minimum required, not more than they have to. This is not an ideal world and maybe there is not so much chance for things to be different soon, but claiming that average people on average salaries shouldn’t have kids is just ridiculous.

  7. john thames says

    Maternity leave is nonsense. Every woman has a right to make a baby on her own time; she has no right to make a baby on the company’s time. Get pregnant; get fired.

    • Greg says

      What is the point of society then? To run around like ants making other people rich? We have a responsibility to bring the next generation up in a good way. The first few months are very important to get right and not have people worrying about returning to work in a few weeks.

      In Canada it’s 12 months of mat leave supported part by companies and part by government employment insurance program. I can see first hand the good this does for society. And I’m very conservative-leaning.

      • john thames says

        Greg:

        If you are really the “conservative” you pretend to be you would not be taking a purely Communist position. All this nonsense about maternity leave on the employers time is basic Communism from the 1920’s and 1930’s. That is, provably, where it originated. This nonsense that women and babies are the center of the universe and that, therefore, what is good for women and children is good for everybody is just “Moo Heil!” breeding cow Nazism nonsense. It may be true in a general sense but it is in no way true in any specific sense.

        Let’s take the military in time of war. Women are getting pregnant just as fast as they can to avoid death and dismemberment at the front. is that good for victory on the battlefield? Is it good for the male soldiers dying in stead of the females shirking their duty? Hell no! Neither is it good for employers trying to run a business or non-pregnant workers doing two jobs for the price of one. The old system of paying a man enough money to support a family and keeping two legged cows in the kitchen where they belong solved all these problems.

        The problem here is that women want it both ways and politicians are licking the vagina of 54% of the voters. You are one of the 46% but I see that you want your freebies too. Socialism for everyone – and let the lesser, non-reproducing male workers pick up the slack.

  8. Mark says

    3 months off? Did the author just include women who can afford nannies and/or daycare? Most women cannot afford either, so they remain housewives for a decade or so. Why not let the man take a decade off from work? Oh, that’s right: Women still want men to be the breadwinners.

    Stop acting like victims. Tell your husband that you refuse to be a stay-at-home mother, and either he must stay home with the children. But that means giving-up the luxury of being a stay-at-home mother. I know stay-at-home father’s who love it. They can take care of the children and still sneak in a few naps and playtime with their mates. I would rather do that then work 80 hours a week on the road.

  9. john thames says

    Article 122 of the Sovier Union’s Constitution of 1936 guarantees women maternity leave. Joseph Stalin, the world’s biggest mass murderer, originated the concept of maternity leave. Sleep is a human right but the fact that I have the right to sleep does not mean I have the right to do so on the company’s time.

    Women forget that in the year 1969 they swore that they would never make babies on the company’s time because motherhood was obsolete in an overcrowded world. Women lied. Maternity leave is not equal pay for equal work; it is equal pay for no work while making babies on the company’s time.

    Women basically think that their baby box is the center of the universe and therefore above the normal rules of logic. I think that it is fine for women to have babies but it is not a job function. The proper solution is to hire men only, pay the man enough to support his wife and kids and put women back in the kitchen where they belong.

    Economic equality for women is Communism. It was the Soviet Communists who drove women out of the home into the factories. Betty Friedan, who started feminism in 1963, was a closet Communist. Americans, who like to imgine that they are the most anti-Communist people on earth, have unwittingly followed the Communist model.

    • Natalie says

      Do explain why you think women belong in the kitchen. Go on. Do you actually have a logical well though out reason? Oh, and tradition is discounted because slavery is a tradition as well, and everyone knows that’s not okay. And being physically weaker means nothing, because in 90% of jobs on the market physical strength means nothing. Using averages like men have higher IQ’s doesn’t matter because averages are from a whole spectrum, so it’s very likely that a women you’ll meet on the street is smarter than the man 5 feet away from her. So go on, do you have an actual reason for your sexism? Or are you just spewing hate for no reason?

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