Work, Motherhood, and Paid Family Leave: Novak Project Update

Thank you for volunteering to be interviewed about your experience of work and motherhood! I've had the pleasure of speaking with about twenty of you so far, and I've loved hearing your stories and insightful reflections.

I'm still conducting interviews, so if I haven't contacted you yet, I may reach out to you soon! I'm also happy to hear your thoughts via email, so please feel free to reply to this message.

In the mean time, I've entered the writing stage of my project. There's so much great material coming out of these conversations that the essays (and potentially book chapters) based on them will take a little more time to prepare for publication. So, my first few published pieces take a slightly different tack, taking a look at public policy on paid maternity leave and universal daycare. The first came out last week.

In this piece, I examine a new study about paid maternity leave in California. The study found some surprising outcomes: over a ten-year period, women who took paid leave ended up with lower wages, reduced rates of workforce participation, and slightly lower birth rates.

That sounds pretty bad, right? But what if those reductions in wages are due not to employer discrimination but to women's choices to step back at work, prioritizing flexibility and more time spent with their children over higher wages? That might not be such a bad thing after all. In other words:

When it comes to women and work, purely economic analyses—convenient as they may be—don’t tell the whole story. Instead of striving for perfect numerical equality, we should be working toward stronger, healthier families and happier, more fulfilled mothers, even if those outcomes are harder to measure.

Read the rest here.

Stay tuned for another essay that will be coming out this week, which asks whether Elizabeth Warren's universal daycare plans would actually be good for middle-class American families.

Thanks for your support,

Serena

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