Although this advertisement wasn’t intended to sell a product, it sends a strong message to people around the world that having a career as a woman negatively impacts your ability to raise children. According to an article from The Guardian, the original intention behind the creators of this ad was to “promote the effectiveness of outdoor advertising” (Kennedy, 2010, para. 2). However, it was not well received by women around the globe. This kind of unnecessary and targeted statement further reinforces the stigmatization and discrimination against working mothers. Considering how challenging it is to support a family on one income these days, it is completely unfair that mothers are being shamed for putting in the effort to build a career.
Furthermore, acknowledging that we live in a patriarchal society, it is imperative that we work towards a more egalitarian society, and working mothers do just that. This ad targets single working mothers who strive to meet the basic needs of their children, and have no other way of financially supporting themselves or their families. It discredits all of the effort that mothers put in to tend to their family’s needs, as if they are unable to come home after work and love their children. This billboard highlights a double standard: fathers can work full-time and yet still be good fathers, yet women who do the same are assumed to be bad mothers. It sends the traditional message that women should continue to depend on men to financially support them, while their main job is to raise children at home.
A more accurate statement towards working mothers is that they are remarkable. Developing a career as a woman is a great way to support your family. We need to dispel the belief that women must stay home to raise children “properly”, and that unlike fathers, they are unable to be good moms while having a job. In fact, a report from Harvard Business School uncovered the many benefits for children who have working mothers. Writer Jenny Kutner explains that these researchers discovered that daughters of working mothers were more likely to have their own job, earn more money, and have positions of supervision (Kutner, 2015). These mothers inspire their daughters to take initiative and assert their financial independence, highlighting the value that working mothers provide.
Advantages are also evident for sons who have working mothers, as they “were found to contribute more to their family members and household chores” (Kutner, 2015, para. 5). This indicates that having a mother with a career can indeed help increase gender equality as both women learn how to gain positions of power through inspiration from their mothers, while men learn how to manage both their careers and taking care of the household duties as well. They even found that daughters of these working mothers actually spent more time with their own children, even if they were also working themselves (Kutner, 2015). Career women are strong and powerful leaders who take an active role in helping their family economically, and alongside having a career, they are able to love and care for their children effectively. Instead of shaming these women, this ad celebrates and supports working mothers for having a professional career that can have advantages for their family.
[Online image of billboard “Career women make bad mothers”]. (2010). Retrieved October 15th, 2017 from http://www.currentmom.com/currentmom/2010/01/out-in-the-cold-.html
Kennedy, M. (2010, Jan 8). Agencies pull ad after outrage at ‘career women make bad mothers’ billboard. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/media/2010/jan/08/career-women- advert-outrage
Kutner, J. (2015, June 17). Goodbye, guilty moms: Study shows kids of working mothers earn more, are more egalitarian. Retrieved from https://www.salon.com/2015/06/17/goodbye_guilty_moms_study_shows_kids_of_working_mothers_earn_more_are_more_egalitarian/