Working moms fare best in Vermont, less so in Mass.

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2016/05/04/working-moms-fare-best-in-vermont-less-so-in-mass/

BOSTON – With Mother’s Day around the corner it’s a good time to reflect on the hard work and dedication that every mom puts into raising a family, but conditions in some states may make it easier than in others.

Massachusetts ranks fifth in those terms, according to a study from the WalletHub.com personal-finance website, scoring about 56.3. Vermont topped the list, 63.9 and Connecticut placed third, at 58.2. Nevada ranked lowest at 34.6.

To rank each state, analysts compared the quality and cost of child care services, including access to doctors, and the performance of local schools, to come up with a child care score. Maine placed 11th, New Hampshire 18th and Rhode Island brought up New England’s rear, at 21st.

The analysts also surveyed the “gender pay gap” in each state, the ratio of male to female executives, the median pay of women who work outside the home, the poverty level, the jobless rate for women, and the breakdown of women to men in various economic sectors. This gave them the basis to score states by professional opportunity.

To determine work-life balance conditions, they looked at parental leave policies, the average length of workweeks for women, and the average commute times for women working outside the home.

The scores for all three, where 100 is most favorable and 0 least, were then compiled to produce an aggregate rank for each state.

While Massachusetts ranked among the best for working moms, it could do better, one of the study’s analysts said.

“The state can improve its child-care costs,” said the analyst, Jill Gonzalez, in an email about how things could improve. “At the moment, Massachusetts has the ninth-highest costs in the nation, meaning that about 23 percent of a median woman’s salary goes directly to child care annually.”

Gonzalez also said the state as well as local governments can implement policies that would help reduce gender gaps and encourage companies to hire more women. She added that Massachusetts ranked poorly in this area.

Brenda J. Wrigley, who teaches marketing communications at Emerson College in Boston, said that while it is more commonly accepted for women to work outside the home, they’re still expected to take primary responsibility for family and the household.

“I don’t think it’s become easier for women to balance career and family,” Wrigley said in commenting on the survey results for WalletHub. “Society still hasn’t addressed the need for affordable and high-quality child care, so women are forced to flex time, work part-time, or make other arrangements. Child care is neither affordable nor easy to arrange.”

Rosalind Chait Barnett, senior scientist in the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University in Waltham, said many employers realize that flexibility is the key to work-family balance.

“Employees (male as well as female) need usable flexibility; flexibility that meets their needs,” Barnett said, in commenting on the survey for WalletHub.

“For example, putting in place a five-day, 8-4 schedule option rather than just the standard 9-5 option, creates flexibility,” she said. “But, it is not at all useful for employees who need to match their work hours to their children’s varying school demands.” In such cases, even greater flexibility is needed, she said.

Gonzalez said that the study’s findings demonstrate how hard it can be to juggle the demands of caring for a child and taking advantage of decent professional opportunities, when they can be found. And she said the challenges grow for single mothers, who now outnumber those with spouses or partners.

“Considering that almost three-quarters of all working women are solo moms with young children, some moms have it even harder than others,” she said.

 

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