Parenthood Hits Glass Ceiling

Discussion
Aug 30, 2002
George Anderson

A new study predicts that parenthood will be behind the next big wave of gender-discrimination lawsuits, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis – St. Paul reports. “Parents are increasingly likely to sue and recover for job discrimination… with awards as high as three million dollars,” according to “The New Glass Ceiling,” released by American University’s College of Law in Washington, D.C.

Certainly, more American mothers are working: 25 million, or almost 70 percent of mothers with children under 18, according to 2001 numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Researchers speculate that cases are up because the younger generation of working women is less intimidated about complaining about discrimination, according to Joan Williams, co-author of the study and director of the law college’s research and advocacy center, Families That Work: The Program on Gender, Work & Family.

One of the largest judgments for fathers went to a Maryland state trooper whose boss told him his wife would have to be “in a coma or dead” for him to qualify for a parental leave. A female personnel supervisor told him that “because only women have the capacity to breast feed a baby,” he could not be considered the primary care provider.

Also, both mothers and fathers say their “family care-giving responsibilities” increasingly reach beyond their children to include aging parents.

Moderator Comment: Is parenthood an impediment to career advancement, particularly for women? Is it discrimination or simply reality based on not being able to stop the world and get off? [George Anderson – Moderator]

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