A lot of Mom blogs have been talking about MomsRising.org, an organization dedicated to 'building a family-friendly America.' Despite how it might sound, this is not a right-wing conservative group. Rather, it is very mainstream, and it is actively fighting against hiring discrimination.
As someone considering dipping my toe back into the hiring pool, I was shocked to learn that it is perfectly legal for a company not to hire me because I am a mom. They can't discriminate if I am pregnant and going to be a mom, but apparently it is perfectly valid for them to rule me out as a candidate because I have already given birth.
Alternatively, my husband is considered an excellent, even more attractive, candidate for a job because he has a family (actually, he is an attractive job applicant for many reasons, but l digress). Men with families are viewed as being more stable and more willing to work long and hard to bring home extra bacon. Women with families are undesirable because they are perceived as having different priorities and less flexibility.
In reality, we all know that moms - 'working' and stay-at-home - are excellent multi-taskers. We have to be! I can empty the dishwasher, while making dinner, with a 9 month old clinging to be right arm - and I'm right-handed; when IMing with my dad, I still type faster than he does with one-finger on my left hand (same child, rendering the right arm unavailable); after grocery shopping I can carry LP, my purse, a diaper bag and at least 4 bags full of groceries and juggle them all while attempting to unlock the house (okay, I cheat a little by using my mouth to hold the keys sometimes).
I think it is sad that in 2007, not only do we have to doubt our own ability, and overcome guilt, anxiety and a host of other emotions to return to work after maternity leave, but we have to play down one of the most important aspects of our lives in order to compete in the job market. Sure, we can say that we wouldn't want to work for a place that discriminates in such a way, but I have the sense that this practice is pretty prevalent - we might all end up working for the same handful women-owned businesses....