I can’t even tell you how many sentences I’ve underlined in Reshma Saujani’s new book… Pay Up. Her brutally honest self reflection and social commentary put into words what I’ve been feeling for years. Here’s a paragraph I love:
I rallied hard behind the ideology of feminism that proclaimed we would have equality once we achieved gender parity in the workplace
And I was wrong.
I was wrong because telling women that having the big life they’ve envisioned would come solely through the hours they put in, the workplace bravery they show and the blood, sweat and tears they surrender is a lie.
We will never fully have equality nor fulfillment until we make some crucial changes to our home lives, our workplaces, our culture and in our public policies so that all of women’s work is valued equally – both in the workplace and on the home front.
But the most powerful and inspiring part of Reshma’s book is that she calls moms to action to make changes. Her book gives me hope.
Watch + Listen to the whole conversation:
This week, Reshma joins us to discuss her experience as a working mom, society’s assumption that moms are America’s social safety net, and the necessity to fix a broken system that was never intended for working moms. How can we create a society that demands true equity for all women? In her new book, Pay Up, Reshma encourages moms to stop being martyrs and create “good trouble” to demand wholesale structural change.
How did becoming a mom transform your career?
I knew that I always wanted to have kids, but I bought into the big lie of corporate feminism. I thought that if I leaned in hard enough and hustled my way to the top that kids wouldn’t stop me. It’s almost like I had to live my life like my kids didn’t exist. So when I had my kids, I just kept going. I didn’t really take a breath. I did bring my son everywhere with me and I thought that I was modeling grit, hustle and messiness for my colleagues to show them that they could do it too. But in retrospect, I wasn’t being the right kind of role model that I want to be today. After everything that we have been through in this pandemic, my eyes have opened up to the reality that workplaces were never structured to support working women.
Tell us about how you started the Marshall Plan for Moms?
During the pandemic we started to see millions and millions of women get pushed out of the workforce. Almost 11 million women left their jobs throughout the pandemic. Women had to supplement their paid labor for unpaid labor. It was untenable. And what was crazy to me was there was no plan. We knew that women were going to be doing the homeschooling, but no one ever checked in with us to ask if we had the time, mental bandwidth or energy. It was just assumed that mothers were America’s social safety net, and it blew me away.
And that’s how this movement started. I wrote an op-ed called The Marshall Plan for Moms, built an organization, and wrote a book, Pay Up. The pandemic showed me that we live in a society where we don’t need social safety nets, because we have mothers. Society thinks that motherhood is a choice so you don’t get to have support from your partners, government, or employers. We’ve asked women for far too long to be ideal mothers and ideal workers in workplaces that were never built for us. As we exit this pandemic, we need to use this opportunity to change a broken system that was never, ever built for us.
What advice would you give to moms right now?
We need to go from rage to power. The CDC says the two most stressed out groups are 18 to 24 year olds and moms in our country right now. First, I would say I need you to rest. I need you to process and I need you to deal with grief about what just happened. And then I need you to fight.
Co-founder & COO
Bridget is mom to two little boys, Hudson and Brooks, and a champion of working moms everywhere. NeighborSchools itself was borne out of Bridget’s challenge to find high-quality yet affordable child care, and the realization that so many parents struggle with these same issues every day.