libraries and the “fertility paradox”

Today’s Idea Lab argues that childcare and maternity benefits are key to sustainable birth rates, and that “the promotion of … families and the promotion of women’s careers may go hand in hand.” The article goes on to say that in countries where resources are allocated for working parents, birth rates are stable, whereas countries lacking such programs (thus instituting a de facto work burden of child rearing on women), are facing serious population decline. Not suprisingly, the U.S. fares poorly- while not facing a population crisis, we have fewer resources for parents than almost all of our peers. “With a largely hands-off approach to family policy, the U.S. spends far less than other wealthy countries on child care while guaranteeing no paid parental leave. As a result, being an employed parent may be more difficult here than in countries now experiencing even the most severe baby droughts.”

This matters for the library world, because the stake of working women is, for the most part, the stake of library workers. It’s simple: when being a mother becomes a disadvantage professionally, the profession will suffer from shutting out mothers.

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2 Responses to libraries and the “fertility paradox”

  1. Leets says:

    Librarianship has been shutting out mothers for quite some years (notice most library directors or other higher-ups are usually men), but it doesn’t seem to have affected the pool of applicants. I can understand why teaching has been such an attractive career for working mothers, what with summers off and short days. But librarianship? Poor salaries, not much room for advancement, no flexibility. Really, what were we thinking?

  2. Mimi says:

    Well, what’s true for librarians is the shitty United States norm. Canada has guaranteed paid maternity leave for a full year, for everyone, and an infrastructure that supports parents. It’s apalling that our profession can’t take a stand and change this for its own, but it’s by no means a surprise. And in my experience, librarianship’s subrosa element of better-employed spouses seems a little more prevalent than in other “women’s professions” such as nursing and teaching, so complaining about pay and childcare options is made to seem blue collar and declasse.

    I always get super-peeved when library types talk about adopting tech-sector working scenarios, like Google’s policy that you can bring your dog to work. People seriously will talk about bringing dogs to work before they talk about accommodating parents!

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