Why “Having It All” Is Impossible For American Women

By | Monday, December 14, 2015


Before writing this article, there was never any shortage of references made to maternity leave (and laws) that I heard thrown around during my time as a working professional. As women, it’s an issue that inevitably affects us because of how directly children impact family finances and spousal career decisions. However, I’m embarrassed to admit that I had only a rudimentary understanding of the facts and details I needed to form a nuanced opinion. Researching for this infographic has helped me do just that — learn the facts. I still have a long way to go before I understand the experience of a working mom, and what our country could be doing to help them juggle all of it better. However, knowing the facts so you can advocate better is a good place to start. It doesn’t take long for someone to see how far behind the U.S. is when it comes to taking care of new moms and young families.

I knew the U.S. was behind, but I didn’t know just how behind. When compared to countries like Sweden, France, and New Zealand, which have much stronger and favorable laws, the little aid we have here in the U.S. pales in comparison. After reading personal accounts from women who try and juggle new child care while working, you understand how the laws here in America almost seem to punish working moms.

For a country so taken with the idea of ‘family values,’
we do a remarkably terrible job at helping people
start families. — Allegra Kirkland, Alternet


This infographic (and this chart on Bloomberg Buisness Week) lay out maternity leave facts from across the globe, which is organized by the duration of paid leave made available to employees. Below, I’ve built out an infographic which highlights the facts about U.S. maternity leave, who has access to it, and what they actually receive. I’ve also laid out some very top-level facts about maternity leave in countries around the globe so it’s easier to see where we could improve, and how far we have left to go.

US Maternity Leave Graphic_3-01


Check out these must-read articles about maternity leave and why it doesn’t measure up to the global standard.

Image via Pexels

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