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The Public Policy of Motherhood

Joan C. Williams and Holly Cohen

Parents seeking to balance their work lives with family responsibilities often find the challenge made more difficult by outdated images of the ideal worker, the good mother, and the good father. Social and legal constraints on mothers' choices exacerbate the problem. While other countries have implemented national work/family policies, the climate in the United States seems unreceptive to federal government mandates for meaningful changes in employees' work hours, schedules, and paid leave, or for sweeping new child care subsidies. As a viable interim measure, we propose a statute forbidding discrimination based on family responsibilities, which would tap deeply-felt values about the importance of family caregiving, serve as an important symbolic statement, and be useful to courts.
  • Print Location Joan Williams, & Holly Cohen Cooper, The Public Policy of Motherhood, 60 J. Soc. Issues 849 (2004)

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