It’s become evident that in America, the one big thing that can undermine your financial success is not divorce, death, or illness, but rather being a single mother. Single moms may land in this category through divorce, death, or an incapacitated spouse, but these are not the essential reasons why a single mother loses earning power. She loses it because of an inherent bias and prejudice in American business that stereotypes single mothers and discriminates openly against them.
Many single moms have been too exhausted and over-worked to notice, but now this is becoming a major issue in the fight for woman’s rights. We live in a society that demands that to succeed we must play the corporate game, get better jobs, better pay so we can put our children into better educational institutions. However, this only works if you are married.
If you are a single mother, the perception is that you are a business risk, and in many states like New Jersey, it is legal to ask the marital status and number of children of a job applicant. Business owners claim this allows them to refuse to hire single mothers and pay health care costs for their dependents. Or, if they do choose to hire them, to deliberately pay them less to make up for perceived health care expenses. But, because it is legal this is not seen as discrimination. That this inequality exists and is legal in our society has many single moms absolutely fuming with rage.
Single mothers were asked to get off welfare and go back into the workforce, but the workforce is decidedly biased against them. Many single moms work over 40 hours a week to support their children with minimal help from the state or deadbeat dads. Yet, they are hired at lower wages than single women or married women, if they are hired at all. They have minimal support and must hire someone to care for the children when they are working. If they get sick, the situation becomes desperate both in terms of income and childcare.
In 2006, the census estimates that over 10 million Americans are single mothers. Many of these single moms are starting to band together in local organizations to help other single mothers. Babysitting clubs, financial and social services are a few of the benefits these clubs provide. Other single moms are petitioning their public officials to change laws that make it legal to ask a mother’s marital status or if she has children. There is a very big grass-roots movement of single moms rising after taken care of their children. Now, they are looking out for other single mothers like themselves and helping them up the ladder to success.