Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Women opting out of the workforce

At the time I had my daughter 2 years ago, I read a lot about the frequency of women opting out of the workforce to stay at home and raise their children.

The feeling I got from these articles was that opting out was a bad thing. It caused women to earn less income throughout their lives, potentially jeopardizing their ability to support themselves in later years.

Opting out was also presented as having a negative impact on the business and economic climate as a whole. All those educated, qualified workers were taking their knowledge and going home, refusing to contribute to the greater good.

Finally, opting-out of the workforce supposedly reflects poorly on the next generation of working women. Senior management who'd been burned by moms leaving the workforce might be biased against hiring young women out of fear that they'd leave the company once they got married and had kids.

Fast forward two years, and here I am. A stay-at-home-mom. I opted out. I left a good job at a company I love to stay home with my kids.

Am I having a negative impact on my earning power? Certainly. I still advocate being a responsible saver and planning to support yourself during retirement, but maybe you (I!) don't need to stockpile every single cent possible between now and then.

Am I having a negative impact on the economy? Doubtful. My company will be fine without me, and I'm frugal anyway so it's not like I was spending a lot of unnecessary money because I had a job.

Am I hurting tomorrow's career women? I hope not. I don't want my choices to reflect poorly on anyone else, nor do I want to be held responsible for a company's or hiring manager's sexism.

The reason I opted out and chose to stay home with my family was very simple, when it all came down to decision time. This is what works for my kids. This is what works for my husband. This is what works for me.

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FrugalinLA said...

Well said.
I basically opted out of my career after my first child was born. I still work for the same company part-time, but it is hardly my career. I usually forget that I have a paying job.
Our family income was cut in half, but so was our tax rate. Plus, my clothing budget is a tiny fraction of what it was when I was working outside of the home.
I just had the best complement ever when my 6 year old said that she wanted to be "a mom that works at home when I grow up" during her Kinder promotion ceremony.

MrsM said...

I too opted out, but I see it as an overwhelmingly positive thing for myself and even for society as a whole. Every family does what they believe is best for their children of course, but it is unfair to categorically say that stay at home moms are damaging the future when they are also benefiting it....after all, what better thing can we do as parents than to raise our children well?

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