Monday, March 8, 2010

International Day of the Woman?

March 8, 2010 – International Women’s Day. Certainly something to contemplate… Last night, a woman won an Oscar for Best Director and her film won in the Best Film category. That’s progress, right? Unfortunately, it was for a film about war – a war of choice that disproportionately attacks the poor, who are predominately women and their children. A war that not only attacks the poor in the countries that we’re actually at war with, but also disproportionately impacts the poor here in this country.

I heard a snippet on NPR this morning, as I was getting ready for work. An international labor union conducted a study on women in the workforce. Unlike the findings of the Pew report released about a month ago that indicated that most women work and they now often earn greater incomes than their partners – this study looked specifically at mothers in the workplace, and found that mothers typically make as much a one third less than men (including, presumably, fathers). They went on to describe in sterile, research style terms the possible reasons that mothers make less and I just felt sad and tired. While I’ve never had to submit to a pre-employment pregnancy test, like some women have reported, I have experienced many of the challenges described – and not in sterile terms, but in ways that have a long lasting negative impact on my career and on my children’s well-being.

Over the weekend, I received a letter from the State Tax Board, rejecting my claim as Head of Household. I am a single mother with three children that I am the sole source of support for, their father has not worked in over five years. I have assumed the full cost for their care and provide for them happily – feeling blessed and lucky to have the means to support them. However, receiving that letter from the Tax Board was a shocking reminder that in the eyes of the state, I’m still just a woman. Reminds me of how I was passed over for a raise last year, while my male colleague received one because he has a family to support.

These are the reasons that working mothers earn less and are taxed more.