Good morning, Broadsheet readers! A new study found that remote work is a defense against sexual harassment, women are sticking with the stock market, and Fortune senior writer Alicia Adamczyk unpacks a new survey putting the spotlight on modern stay-at-home motherhood in America. Have a terrific Thursday!
– No labels. After working for a decade in corporate America, Neha Ruch put her career on pause when her first child was born in 2017. She’s been trying to upend the stereotypical view of the stay-at-home mom ever since.
Though her career path is no longer as straight-forward as it had been, Ruch bristles at the implication that SAHMs aren’t also professionally ambitious. The founder and CEO of digital community Mother Untitled, she believes it’s time to modernize our conception of what stay-at-home motherhood means—and to stop pitting moms who work professionally against those who don’t.
“We need to dismantle these old static titles because there is so much gray in between,” Ruch tells Fortune. “Let’s show the vast spectrum of choices for women and men.”
To help move the conversation forward, Mother Untitled recently released a survey called “American Mothers on Pause” on the experiences of 1,200 college-educated stay-at-home moms. It explores how these women chose to pause or downshift their careers to stay home with their kids, how they feel day-to-day, and how others perceive their choices.
Very few women in 2023 reflect the “traditionalist tropes” put on stay-at-home moms, Ruch says. While stereotypes suggests a SAHM is someone shut in or closed off from the world, that couldn’t be further from the truth for those surveyed by Mother Untitled. Almost 40% of SAHMs regularly participate in an activity outside the home, such as volunteering, working on a side business, or working on a passion project, according to the survey. They are also more likely to shift in and out of the workforce over time as necessary for their families, says Ruch.
Being a stay-at-home mom is not permanent, as is often the perception: previous research found that 93% of highly qualified women who pause or downshift their careers plan to return to the paid workforce. When they do, they are more likely to value flexibility.
“What we see more than ever is people making the right choice for right now,” says Ruch. “But people are dialing up and dialing down all the time.”
The survey provides critical insight into a population that isn’t always represented in the national conversations on motherhood and careers, Ruch says. She hopes to crack those dialogues wide open.
“Every mother is mothering,” she says. “Every mother is working.”
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