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The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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Writer stands up for motherhood

An accomplished economist and author spoke last night on the “maternal wall” that society has hit within the women’s movement, creating the single biggest cause of poverty and economic disadvantage for women in America.

In her keynote address for Women’s History Month, Ann Crittenden, an award winning journalist, detailed the amount of wealth mothers create for society by child rearing, with little compensation received in return.

Her speech “The Price of Motherhood: Why the Most Important Job in the World is Still the Least Valued” was presented last night in the Union Ballroom.

Crittenden was an economics reporter for the New York Times up until the early 1980s when she had a child and realized she couldn’t go back to a 50-hour work week with no flexibility.

“I had all these amazing insights into what happens to you when you become a mother after being a professional,” she said.

She decided to quit her job and has since done freelance work and become an author of several books including, “The Price of Motherhood.”

“There is a difference between the current reality and what it could be, and how much better life could be for children and the people raising them,” Crittenden said. “My goal is to give them a framework and understanding of what reality is and how they can change it.”

While women have come a long way, there is still one more step to be taken, Crittenden said.

“Motherhood is sort of a last frontier in the women’s movement,” she said.

As it stands, parents are given little flexibility to manage work and child rearing, Crittenden said. Quitting a job or taking a cut in hours impacts income and the ability to support a family.

There is also a “cognitive bias” resonating in society that attaches a negative stereotype to mothers. This also does not help the economic situation, she said.

Because of the negative sentiment towards mothers, educated women also are finding themselves waiting longer to have kids, Crittenden said.

“Part of that is it’s hard to combine kids with a sane work schedule,” she said.

How Crittenden described society’s view of child rearing was striking, said Bowling Green community member Pam Bettinger.

“I got some different perspectives on things, on what I do and how much value it is. When you have kids and stay at home you don’t think about the amount of loss you are taking,” she said. “And you also don’t think about the capitol gain you are creating by raising your kids.”

Despite these views on child rearing, roughly 40 percent of all economic income in America is generated by mothers, Crittenden said.

“Human capitol is more important in the economy than any other kind of resource,” she said.

Solutions to this issue could include changes in federal laws, especially regarding flexibility of work weeks for parents.

There has been a trend in the last few decades towards becoming “work-a-holics,” Crittenden said. Typical professionals are expected to work 50 to 60 hours as a typical work week.

Often times mothers are forced to forego a promotion or quit their job in order to be a successful parent, she said.

For BGSU senior Erin Conrad, issues regarding how employers view parents are important.

“My concerns were regulations, how the employers evaluate their employees in getting time off,” she said. “I agree that you do get penalized financially for staying at home with your children or for wanting more time off. It has an effect on how your employer views you.”

Another component of the next frontier of the movement is to equate wages for parents, Crittenden said.

“The family wage gap is bigger now than the gender wage gap,” she said.

During the time mothers do parenting, an estimated $1 million is lost in wages, Crittenden said. She has coined this the “mommy tax.”

Contrary to popular belief, marriage is not a good safety net for the parents in society, Crittenden said. Forty percent of divorced mothers in Ohio are living at poverty level.

“Marriage doesn’t respect contributions of caring for children as it respects contributions of money,” she said.

Mothers currently receive no credit in Social Security for raising kids, Crittenden said. No consideration is taken for the fact that the children women raise will one day be members of society who will in return contribute to social security.

“We actually punish people for staying at home and doing child rearing, even though it creates all this value,” she said.

Sara Chambers, a part-time instructor in theatre and film at the University, said she could relate to what Crittenden spoke about last night.

“It reflected my experience because I have two kids,” she said. “Most of my reading and my experience totally reflects what her conclusions are.”

Crittenden’s is one of many presentations for this year’s Women’s History Month focusing around the theme “Reproductive Cultures: Motherhood in Women’s History”.

The Women’s Center will also host several more events this month in recognition of Women’s History Month.

These events are sponsored by the Women’s Center and the Women’s Studies Program and numerous co-sponsors.

Crittenden is also a past Pulitzer Prize nominee. Her articles have appeared in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Times, among other publications

She was also a writer for Newsweek, a reporter for Fortune, a visiting lecturer at MIT and Yale, a regular economics commentator for CBS News and executive director of the Fund for Investigative Journalism in Washington, D.C.

Her previous books include “Sanctuary: A Story of American Conscience and the Law in Collision,” “Killing the Sacred Cows: Bold Ideas for a New Economy,” and her latest, “If You’ve Raised Kids, You Can Manage Anything.”

Editor’s Note: for more information visit

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