The Mommy Tax

Well, yes. Yes, ladies, we are all equal. But.

One of COLIBRI’s hats is “Certified Yoga Teacher.” Yoga teaches that the safest place you can be is in reality. So, let’s get real. Being a woman in business is not the same as being a man. There are many reasons for this.

Three of them are:

  • Financial inequality
  • Social inequality and
  • Motherhood

COLIBRI knows, we’ve come a long way, baby. So far, in fact, that the millennials barely understand we had to get anywhere. But, we did. So, for all of you females who work(ed) hard, many of you while raising children, some of you while flying solo — COLIBRI salutes you for all the work you did to bring us the level of freedom and equality we have today.

Financial Inequality

Unfortunately, in the United States today, women earn about 19% less than men. Ladies, assuming the six figure salary of which we are all capable, would an extra $20,000 per year help you pay the bills?

And, in a nod to sisters of color, would earning as much as your white counterparts seem fair?

There are many reasons (and much controversy about) about why women earn less money than men in our country. Even if you are earning just as much, or more, than the men you know, it is important to remember that, unless we all have equality, we are all vulnerable. More power means more, not less, social responsibility.

The salary gap is something with which we must all, as a society, contend.

Social Inequality

According to Bureau of Justice statistics, 88.5% of sexual assaults in 2012 were perpetrated against women. This is a shocking measure of social inequality, COLIBRI knows, but it is important to understand that, without a doubt, women do not enjoy true social equality in our country.

Women are, in fact, vulnerable in a society that often views us as inferior.

COLIBRI was, in part, inspired to write this post as a result of Project Eve’s Lisa Bondesio’s September 21, 2012 post about her experiences with a (male) corporate spokesperson who exhibited “old-style misogyny and outmoded thinking.”

The only thing that surprised COLIBRI was that Ms. Bondesio reported this experience was her first run-in with sexism in the work place — although she points out that 15% of the corporate board chairs in the UK are held by women. If that’s not sexism, what is? As COLIBRI recalls, just over half the world’s population is women. Why aren’t half the board chairs held by women? Just sayin.

The Mommy Tax

According to Wikipedia, and this is good news, women in their 20s, in some urban areas, earn as much or more than their male counterparts. This advantage, explained in part by the fact that more women, and fewer men, are now getting college degrees, holds true only as long as the women do not have children.

Ladies, we do not want to pit mothers against non mothers. But here it is:

Anne Crittenden, author of the The Price of Motherhood, puts it this way: “There’s a lot of variation, but you can say, in general, that if a college-educated woman has one child, she will lose about a million dollars in lifetime earnings.”

Fighting the Good Fight

For women, what all of this means is that we have not achieved social or financial equality and motherhood is not appropriately valued in our country. Self care, in this context, means more than just a day at the spa.

However, you will need adequate:

  • Water
  • Food
  • Sleep
  • Exercise
  • Education
  • Experience and
  • Guts

because you probably aren’t going to get the support that is your basic human right without fighting the good fight.

Tell Us What You Think

Have women and women of color achieved full financial and social equality in our country? Is motherhood valued the way it ought to be?

What does self care really mean for working women today?


Bureau of Justice Statistics, Criminal Victimization, 2010 (PDF)

The Price of Motherhood: An Interview with Anne Crittenden

Wikipedia: Gender Wage Gap

Wikipedia: Racial Wage Gap


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