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Putting families before the corporate ladder

Family

Sara Uttech, the main breadwinner for her family, spends more time trying to accommodate her home life than she does trying to climb the career ladder, according to The New York Times. From Fall River, Wis., the married college graduate runs communications for an agricultural association while juggling family responsibilities. She never misses her boys’ baseball games—and they play as many as six times weekly. She teaches at her church on Sundays, then returns home to prepare most of the week’s meals ahead of time, enlisting the help of her invaluable crock pot and freezer.

The New York Times article presents a real-world example of a mom who prioritizes her family over her job. As with last year’s article in The Atlantic, “Why women can’t have it all,” the story offers a counter-example to popular books like Lean In that encourage women to take over the highest echelons of the business world—even at the expense of their families. While many women must work to support their families, both articles reveal that many women are not willing to sacrifice their family for a high-powered job.

Uttech is part of the growing number of moms making money. A recent Pew report reveals that 40 percent of moms are either the sole or primary breadwinners for their families. That number includes single mothers as well—8.6 million “breadwinner moms” are single, divorced, or separated. More mothers of young children are working as well: In 2012, roughly two-thirds of women with children younger than age 6 were either employed or looking for work.

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While the increased number of working mothers has made it easier for families to live comfortably, most of these women wish they could spend more time at home. Three-quarters of all adults say working moms make it more difficult to raise children, and half of them say the trend has made it harder for marriages to succeed.

Uttech said she couldn’t manage it all alone. Her husband picks up the boys from an after-school program and coaches their sports teams, and other family members watch the kids during school vacations. Plus, she works from home on Fridays. She still participates in regular work activities—emails and conference calls included—but now she can dress casually and throw in the occasional load of laundry.

Uttech hopes that employers will view motherhood as an asset and not a disadvantage. She told The New York Times, “Because I’m a mom I know how to multitask, and I have all these other skills I didn’t have before like juggling, mentoring, educating, problem-solving, managing. … Motherhood should be a feather in my cap, not a drawback.”

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