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Mother's Day

Employers need to be aware of mothers’ needs


Pei-yu Chen knows the first-hand challenges of the juggling act of raising a family and maintaining a successful career at the same time.

Chen, chair and professor at the department of information systems at W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, said employers need to understand some parents need the flexibility during the work day to care for young children.

“Flexibility to me is so important,” said.

The professor wrote a paper in 2023 that said telework is “a silver lining” for women who need more give in their schedule than someone without children.

The paper examined whether telework helped bridge the gap in gender inequality in the job market. There is sometimes a disconnect between employers and employees when it comes to meeting each other’s needs, Chen said.

“A lot of times, we need to understand each other’s situation,” she said.

The professor hit on an issue that seems to be prevalent today, according to a new WalletHub study. The study said women make up “nearly half of the U.S. workforce and 74% of moms with children under 18 years old were working” in 2023.

“Working moms still face an uphill battle in the workplace, though, as women’s average hourly wage is only 82% of what men make, and only 10.4% of S&P 500 companies’ chief executives are women,” the WalletHub study stated.

And Arizona is not a particularly hospitable place to working mothers. The state ranks 39th overall out of 50 states and 43rd overall in terms of child care, the Wallethub report said. Its work-life balance is the middle of the pack — at 32nd, the report said.

While women make less than men, corporate parental leave policies and other legal support systems are state-based and can vary by geography. In addition, cost-effective day care isn’t always of high quality, the study stated.

“Childcare support from the state and federal level can be difficult,” said Tara McGuinness, executive director of the New Practice Lab.

New Practice Lab is considered a “mom-friendly” group that seeks to improve the economic security of young children in the form of working with states to change policies to benefit families, McGuinness said.

In Maryland, a new family leave law that will go into effect in 2026, she said.

One task the group helps with is to streamline forms for mothers, particular those who are looking to apply for state or federal aid.

“Sometimes forms are 20 pages long,” McGuinness said. “It can be time-consuming and arduous.”

The cost of living, time and mental well-being are categories parents must focus on while balancing their career and home life, McGuinness said.

Maintaining affordable housing, having time to provide healthy meals and setting aside time for activities such as bedtime stories are paramount, McGuinness said.

“(We listen to) families to figure out what makes them thrive,” she said.

During the pandemic, Chen’s two sons — Ryan and Victor — were 12 and 9 years old. Chen had to work from home and attempt to keep her sons on task with their school work, she said. At times, the kids were looking at other things when she thought they were doing schoolwork on their laptop.

“(I) found they were actually on YouTube,” Chen said.

The department chair said she had to prove herself earlier in her career because she was a woman. But her mother, Paoluan, drove the point home that Chen could be successful and persevere, she said. Growing up in Taiwan, her mother — who has since passed away — would get books to read during a time when women weren’t looked at as candidates to send to school, Chen said.

Her mother supported Chen from her undergrad to her doctorate degree, she said.

“She’s a major reason (why I am) where I am today,” Chen said. “...My mom is the most amazing woman I know. I cannot even do 10% of what she had done. I want to remind everyone to (appreciate) and (be) kind to our moms. I regret I didn’t express enough of my gratitude to her and do enough things with her when she was alive.”