Superwoman: Just in the Comics or in Your Life?

DC Comics introduced the character of Superwoman in the 1940s. Since then she has come to be Superman’s female counterpart, fighting evil and holding her own in the Justice League. The term “superwoman” was coined by author Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz in The Superwoman Syndrome to denote a woman who copes successfully with the demands of career, marriage, and motherhood.

In honor of Mother’s Day, let’s look at the evidence on whether the notion of superwoman is realistic or just something for the comics.

Career versus motherhood

One of the great things about the women’s movement that started in the 1960s was to afford women a choice if they wanted one. They could choose to have a career; they could choose to become stay-at-home moms. A Pew Research Report from several years ago found that about 10% of highly-educated women (a master’s degree or higher) opted for full-time motherhood.

Being superwoman

Some women choose to both work and raise children. DOL says that 70% of moms with children under age 18 are in the workforce. The choice to simultaneously raise children and work may derive from necessity or because they love what they do in the workplace. How does having 2 jobs at once — raising children and having a job or being self-employed — turn out?

Government support for working moms

The U.S. still lags behind many other developed countries in supporting working moms. With that said, there are some helpful measures:

  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FSLA). Employers with 50 or more employees must give up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave time.
  • Breastfeeding accommodations. Employers must give break time for nursing mothers for one year following the birth of a child.
  • Employer tax credit for paid family and medical leave. For 2018 and 2019, employers are encouraged to continue paying workers who take this leave by means of a tax credit. This tax incentive is a trial run; if it works, Congress may extend and expand it.
  • State laws on past salaries. A growing number of states bar employers from asking about prior wage history. This helps women who take time away from the workplace to raise children without falling behind on the pay scale.

Final thought

I was a working mom; I continued to work while raising my children (they’re now working mothers). I ran my business full-time from a home office, which worked out great for me. Each mom has to find a solution that works for her and her family. If you’re a mom, whether you work outside the home and those who choose to be full-time stay at home, I celebrate you on this Mother’s Day.


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