In the United States today, many working parents struggle to balance their work and
family responsibilities. No standard for success in maintaining this balance exists and many
families struggle daily with the competing needs of work and family without any support
from society at large. While women’s rates of labor force participation are gaining parity to
men in the workforce, women still feel more acutely this work-life struggle. In her book, The
Price of Motherhood, Ann Crittenden (2001) writes, “There is increasing evidence in the United
States and worldwide that mothers’ differential responsibility for children, rather than classic
sex discrimination, is the most important factor disposing women to poverty” (p. 88).
Women’s greater responsibility in the private sphere of domestic work heightens their risk of
economic insecurity and is shown to decrease their participation in civic and political
activities, thereby reducing women’s individual and collective power (Gornick & Meyers
2003). Compounding the issue of a woman’s unequal burden of caretaking is the greater
burden experienced by low-income women and women of color who have fewer resources
to provide care, and less affordable time away from work to give to caretaking (Gerstel &
Saunoi-Sandgren, Emily. The Work-Life Balance in Crisis: leave taking among employed women in the United States. March 30 2009. May 27 2009. Hubert H Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs
professional paper in partial fulfillment of the Master of Public Policy degree requirement
The Work-Life Balance in Crisis: Leave taking among employed women in the United States.
Hubert H Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.
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