Working Moms: A Balancing Act


Many of these women voiced frustration because they never knew how difficult it would be to strike that balance.

Jennifer, a working mom and business owner, told "20/20" that "It was really devastating because I wanted to be everything and do everything, and I realized then that I just couldn't do it."

Los Angeles-based radio talk-show host Tom Leykis is not sympathetic to this new reality.

"20/20" visited Leykis as he discussed working-mom issues with his listeners. "We should feel sorry for them. They're trying to balance work and home, kids, and career concerns, and we ought to be helping them out," he said. "I don't see why that's a job for the rest of us."

And many of his listeners, including other women, agree.

One woman called in to say that, "Maybe they should leave their childbearing uterus at home. Why work?"

The Bottom Line

Working mothers, especially lower-income moms, say they struggle because of a corporate culture in the United States that denies them flexibility or day-care benefits.

"I am not investing money in order to change society or make things easier for working mothers," Leykis said. "I'm interested in companies that want to make a buck."

A woman caller responded: "A company run by a bunch of men honestly doesn't want women leaving on maternity leave. … It's just unproductive."

A male caller named Patrick said, "We can't hire single mothers because of all the times of waiting for phone calls, leaving early, the kids getting in trouble at school."

Another woman called in to add that she made hires "for a company and we actually don't hire women that we think are going to have children."

Child-Free Workplace, a Reality

"20/20" found a number of online communities and organizations dedicated to speaking out on behalf of the "child-free."

One child-free woman, Aimee Foley, wrote to "20/20" saying, "While I'll probably never own a business, if I did, I would do whatever necessary, law be damned, to be sure that no women worked for me. I would be too concerned with her personal choices affecting my business."

She continued, "I just cannot imagine having important business foiled by a missed bus or a sick minor at home that she would put first."

But wasn't America founded with a competitive, can-do spirit, where people pulled themselves up by the bootstraps?

Absolutely, Dodd said, but a person can't embrace that spirit if they're worrying about their children.

"When it comes to this administration," Dodd said, "too often it's been, 'You're on your own. … This is not the job of government. This is your job.'"

Dodd has introduced legislation that would broaden the scope and coverage of the original Family Medical Leave Act.

He is looking to create a pilot program to help states design ways to offer six weeks of partial or fully paid leave, which would count toward the 12 weeks of unpaid leave for eligible employees who take time to care for a child or a family member.

The new version also would make an additional 13 million working men and women eligible for the act, expanding coverage to employers with 25 or more workers.

"A lot of employers feel this is a great burden for them," he said. "And in every study on areas of productivity, profitability and growth, 90 percent of the employers have reported either no negative impact or actually a positive benefit in terms of employee loyalty, in terms of productivity of those employees."

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