Hard For Moms To Get Jobs?

Lisa Kautz thought she could have it all: professional success as well as a fulfilling family life.

"I definitely saw myself as a career woman," says the mother of two. "I knew I wanted to have a family, but I figured I would get my career up and running before I had kids. Leave, have kids; go right back to the career."

But according to a survey in the June issue of More magazine, Kautz may have sacrificed earning power when she took time out for her family.

And she is not alone. According to Sylvia Ann Hewlett, founder of the Center for Work-Life Policy, a New York nonprofit group, the earning power of women who took 2.2 years off from their carers saw their earning power decrease by 18 percent. And for those who took three or more years off, earning power decreased by 37 percent.

The statistics are based on Hewlett's a national survey of a little over 2,400 women ages 28-55, many with graduate degrees and high honors undergraduate degrees. All took some time off from their careers.

More magazine's editor-in chief, Peggy Northrop, tells co-anchor Rene Syler this is a reality check of how much detours cost women.

"Of course, a lot of other women that she surveyed had downsized their ambition so when they went back into the work force, they didn't go back at the same level," Northrop points out. "They had what they call non-linear careers. A lot of women out there are very familiar with that concept. You don't do it in the traditional way. This is in fact one of the reasons some women are starting their own businesses, because they find it difficult to just jump back into the professional track."

Part of the problem is that the employer questions the woman's commitment. Some jobs require employees to be available 24/7 and travel is involved.

Northrop explains, "Sometimes, they do look at women in those kinds of trade-offs they know women have to make, and they say: You know you haven't been doing it in the last few years, why do you think can you start doing it now? Remember, you're not just competing with younger people getting into the work force for the first time; you're also competing with women who haven't taken the time off. So that makes it very difficult."

So, what is there to do? Here are Northrop's suggestions:

  • Prepare for a somewhat longer search than you might have expected.
  • Try and keep your hand in, in whatever way you can, whether it's doing consulting or doing some kind of part-time work.
  • Don't take a nine-year break without getting any kind of ability to sharpen your skills or keep your skills current.
  • Be flexible. When you go back into the work force, perhaps you won't go back to exactly the same field.
  • Think of yourself as a person with a set of skills, rather than a series of jobs in the past. Think about how else you can use your skill.
  • Start your own business

With her career on hold, Kautz has found a different job as a substitute teacher. Disillusioned with the job hunt, she wants prospective employers to know that one-time career women who are now moms can still bring a lot to the workplace.

She says, "Women are very good at multitasking, and if you let them make their hours a little more flexible, they can work for their family life. I think that they would be really pleased at the results."