Ep 127. Caitlyn Collins: Seeking Work/Life Justice
“American mothers feel lucky if they get help with child-rearing. In Europe mothers feel they have a right to such support.”
Caitlyn Collins is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Washington University in St. Louis and author of Making Motherhood Work: How Women Manage Careers and Caregiving. Her book is a cross-national interview study of 135 working mothers in Sweden, Germany, Italy, and the United States. Her research has been published in peer-reviewed journals and has been featured in the popular press including The Atlantic, Forbes, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. She is a 2019 Nancy Weiss Malkiel Scholar, a 2018 Work and Family Researchers Network Early Career Fellow, and a contributor for The Atlantic, The New York Times, and Slate.
In this episode Stew and Caitlyn discuss the cross-national differences Caitlyn observed in her research on working mothers in four countries. It was only the American women who blamed themselves for the stresses and strains of life as a working mother. In the other nations, women understood there were external constraints, out of their immediate control, that affected the stress they feel from conflict between work and the rest of their lives. And they expected the community, the society, the government to collectively invest in the essential tasks of caring for rearing the future generation of tax payers and employees. They grasped that this is not a private, family responsibility, but a shared one. Apart from voting to create change in our social policy, which of course is essential, Caitlyn offers other ideas for how we Americans can orchestrate ways of being exposed to people different from ourselves, outside of our own immediate community, so we can better understand and feel part of the commonweal and compassionately invest in all aspects of our society, especially our children.