Working Mothers and the Starship Enterprise

working mothers

Here's an enlightening commentary on working women in the 20th century, courtesy of a 1960s TV character. "One day, she'll find the right man and off she'll go." This was not Ward Cleaver, 1963, explaining women to Wally and the Beave at the family kitchen table. Nope...it was Dr. Leonard McCoy, 23rd century physician, talking about a female science officer on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise.

Working Mothers: Stranger Than Science Fiction?

So let's think about this for a minute. That means that way back in the 20th century, the forward-thinking creators of Star Trek - inventive crew behind "Beam me up Scotty" looked 400 years into the future and found it less imaginable that a woman might want to continue her career after marriage than, say...that we'd be deconstructing our molecules as a form of transportation...or interacting with other species...who will look like talking reptiles...or giant babies. So in honor of Mother's Day, we're happy to recount all the things that have changed since then.

Where We Are Today

Women now account for breadwinners in more than 40% of families. They're more than 50% of college students. They're more than half of managers are female and moving up the corporate ladder. They're traveling to the International Space Station, winning Nobel prizes, and running marathons... while pregnant. Today's progressive workplaces are taking note, vying for Working Mother awards and FORTUNE best places to work recognition. They offer flex time and remote work time. They recognize working moms - and dads - kids, elderly parents, and that "family" today encompasses so much more than two parents, 2.5 children, and a dog.

Working Mothers in the News

Child Care, arguably the single most-important support for today's 34 million working families, was the centerpiece of the White House Summit on Working Families and a State of the Union address in which the President said, "It's time we stopped treating child care as a side issue...or as a women's issue...and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us." the President told the world. Workplaces not only continue to redefine how they support women (and men, for that matter); women are also redefining how they approach work, creating a new template when they don't see one that fits. We've moved from work/life balance to integration; wellness to well-being; killer work schedules to positive corporate cultures; "having it all" to "going for what you want." A lot of strides, and there are still miles to go. But it's a long way from 38 years ago (or 400 years in the future, depending on your perspective). And all it took was time, hard work...and a little imagination. And PS: we're still not beaming around planets. But in the year 2371, the captain of a starship is a woman. Happy Mother's Day!

Written by: Lisa Oppenheimer

About the Author

Lisa Oppenheimer at Bright Horizons

As Director, Brand Storytelling at Bright Horizons, Lisa writes “from the trenches” about the real life challenges of people in today’s workplaces: from the tensions of being a working mother, to working with millennials in the digital age, and everything in between. With a career ranging from freelance to full-time, Lisa brings a diverse employment background to her perspective.