A Texas physician is getting heat this week after saying the gender wage gap persists in medicine because women doctors "do not work as hard" since "most of the time their priority is something else... family, social, whatever."
Walking back his statement, Dr. Gary Tigges says that although it was taken out of context, it has still provided a growth opportunity for him. "I now understand more clearly how intricate this issue is and that there are ways we can work together to resolve these disparities," he told Dallas News. "I have worked closely with numerous female physicians for nearly three decades and have witnessed nothing but compassion, diligence and professionalism."
The episode makes an important point, however: Prejudices against working women, especially those with families, persist across the board.
According to a 2016 report from the Center for American Progress, approximately 64% of women were breadwinners or co-breadwinners in their families in 2015—way up from the 1960s when about 10% of American women identified as breadwinners.
Despite us occupying larger roles in the workforce, however, striking a "work-life balance" is mostly still framed as a women's issue. When we're on the job, that can give way to the misconception that we're distracted when, in fact, data shows most mothers aspire to leadership positions at the same rate as female peers without children. And that's not to mention a study that found mothers are more efficient at work than any other demographic group, including working men without children.
Also detrimental is framing career versus family as an either/or decision.
As Avani Ramnani, CFP, Director of Financial Planning and Wealth Management for Francis Financial, tells Motherly, women who reluctantly leave their careers with hopes to later return miss out on both earnings and advancements within their careers that may earn them more flexibility down the line.
Ramnani explains she's speaking both as a certified financial planner and mother who has grappled with these questions—but it helped to have a partner who valued her career ambitions. "Because I stayed in the workforce, given my experience and seniority, I am in a position to have the flexibility I need with my children, while not compromising on the work that I need to do," she says. "Financially, our family is in a much more secure place and living a life we love."
The trouble is that the burden is on us working moms to make the case for ourselves—as if the ways we're navigating career and family aren't proof enough of our abilities.
As Lauren McGoodwin, founder and CEO of Career Contessa previously told Motherly, she believes change can and will come as women find their voices. "I think 2018 is going to be the year of us holding each other (and our companies) accountable in a certain way," she said. "More women's marches, more speaking out, less impostor syndrome, more asking for what we deserve..."
In this case, that doesn't just mean calling out Dr. Tigges on social media, but also standing confidently in our roles whether they are at home or work. After all, making space for working moms isn't just the charitable thing to do—it's how we help businesses, families and society in general advance.
Anyone who thinks otherwise must be worried about getting shown up by a mom. 😉