The Real Reason Working Women are Opting Out of the Workforce

child care in higher ed

Three interesting items from last week's news:

All three got people fired up. Why?

Even if you're unmoved by the plight of the Millennial whose already outsize paycheck doesn't reflect enough zeroes; and even if you don't have designs on world leadership (and Brava to those who do!); you can't help but connect the dots for a bigger picture; that women's lower paychecks plus bigger expenses equal diminished female participation in the workforce.

Why Subsidizing Child Care Can Help Women Opt Back In

This is just depressing. It's no wonder working women are opting out. The math for many just doesn't add up. And this kind of flawed arithmetic comes with a big price. As the New York Times Gail Collins wrote last Saturday, women falling out of the workforce is a huge deal. "It reduces family standards of living and puts a crimp in the economy.

"And why do you think this is happening?" she concluded. "One of the reasons is clearly, positively, absolutely the cost of child care."

This isn't a discussion going on just around kitchen tables; it's the talk of boardrooms, think tanks, the White House. President Obama called child care an economic priority.

Helping Women To Make the Math Add Up

When companies help their working mothers out by subsidizing high quality child care, they do more than check a box: they make it more likely that valuable working moms (and dads, for that matter) will stick around. They also free up brain space to think.

Don't discount that last part. Because encouraging women to keep opting into the workforce isn't just about strategically placing women in visible places to satisfy a mandate. It's about figuring out ways to enable these valuable contributors to have equal and meaningful roles at the table.

The more contributors, the bigger success. It also illustrates some pretty important lessons for tomorrow's generation - that women should be sitting at the table.

A Positive Effect on the Economy

"We generally and rightly talk about early childhood education as something that's critical because it increases kids' chances of success in school," wrote the Times' Ms. Collins last week. "But as Carmel Martin of the Center for American Progress points out, 'there's also evidence of a positive effect on the economy over all.'"

Support for children, women, and the economy?

That's something that should get everybody fired up.  

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.