Professional networking site LinkedIn has added a new feature to its platform that allows users to pick "stay-at-home mom" or "stay-at-home dad" as a job title on their profile.
The "stay-at-home" option, which launched last week, is part of LinkedIn's goal of providing more ways to explain someone's employment gaps, the company told CBS MoneyWatch on Friday. In the coming weeks, the site plans to add "parental leave," "family care" and "sabbatical" options. Bef Ayenew, LinkedIn's engineering director, said the new titles "allow full-time parents and caretakers to more accurately display their roles."
"We've heard from our members, particularly women and mothers who have temporarily stopped working, that they need more ways to reflect career gaps on their profile due to parenting and other life responsibilities," Ayenew said.
Ayenew said users can now choose a stay-at-home job description, set the employment type field to "self-employed," and will no longer need to specify a company or employer in their profile. He said LinkedIn also plans to add a new field specifically for explaining employment gaps.
LinkedIn's move comes a few weeks after the platform was criticized for not offering enough ways to explain employment gaps. Travel writer Heather Bolen wrote in a Medium blog post that LinkedIn has used "sexist terminology to describe caregiving roles, and, because so, women have had to resort to using gimmicks and "cutesy workarounds" such as descriptors like "Family COO" and "Chief Home Officer" to explain their time away from work.
"I would also argue that being a stay-at-home mom is full-time, but of course, LinkedIn intends to describe paid work only," Bolen wrote.
Ayenew told Fortune magazine that he agrees with Bolen's criticism and that the new features are meant to address those terminology issues. He suggested that the "stay-at-home" option might be particularly helpful for since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Roughlyhave lost jobs since the pandemic began, according to Labor Department data. Some were laid off during the pandemic while others reported dropping out of the workforce to care for children attending school virtually. Leaving a job to take care of a family ultimately creates a work history gap.
Rejoining the labor force with a work history gap has long been a challenge for women. In fact, some research has shown that employers view women with work history gaps as much riskier potential hires. Ayenew said LinkedIn hopes its new features will start to erode the stigma behind employment gaps because "every person's career journey is different."