Charlotte Fishman, Pick Up the Pace

Commentary
The stress-filled lives of working mothers challenge the status quo--and the culture of overwork.
The Supreme Court’s new retaliation decision is a victory for working women everywhere.
Stanford’s new “family friendly” policy for graduate students reinforces outmoded gender stereotypes.

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Women in the Workplace

Mothers at Work Are Canaries in the Mine
Despite talk of an “opt out” revolution, working mothers are at the forefront of a new social movement. “Family friendly” policies don’t enforce themselves. As Professor Laurie Freeman found out, it takes a determined woman to overcome the culture of bias that stereotypes mothers as uncommitted and unproductive.

In the Workplace, Little Things Mean a Lot
In Burlington Northern v. White, a unanimous United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of forklift operator Sheila White. Adopting a common-sense, context-sensitive test for assessing retaliation claims, the Court recognized what working women always knew--retaliation need not have tangible economic consequences to intimidate employees from complaining about discrimination.

Only the Fertile Need Apply
By limiting accommodation to birth mothers, Stanford ignores the needs of graduate students in nontraditional families. Achieving equity requires a policy that accommodates families formed through adoption and surrogacy, and accommodation for gay couples and others who choose an alternative model to “mom stays home; dad goes to work.”