As much as I would love to dish about whether Beyonce is faking her baby bump (and her age) – and is actually 37 and using a surrogate – and as much as I’d love to discuss how anti-woman these deceptions are if they are true – I will instead focus today on the Forbes ranking of top cities for Working Moms. For the third year, Forbes Woman has ranked the top cities for Working Moms in the country and this year Washington DC fell from the ranking of 2 to 9. Anyone who follows my blog knows I was highly suspicious of Parenting Mag’s ranking of DC as the number one city for families. So, I certainly eyed these results dubiously.
First, Forbes Woman is right to factor things like cost of child care, employment, salaries and then time – specifically time spent commuting – into their criterion for what makes a top working town for mothers. I am actually really proud to learn that working women in Washington rank one nationwide for income levels – this is a great thing for everyone, including our kids, and hopefully many of these women are affecting public policy and influencing positive change. But when you are averaging a higher salary than any other city nationwide, that comes with a price tag. A hefty one – one that is more than just a lot of time spent commuting (where we ranked 49th, a contributing factor to the fall to 9th place). A high salary translates into a demanding job which translates into a lot of working hours – which does not equal to work-family “balance” and time spent with children. All of this, in turns, makes me highly suspicious of how this is a great town for working moms? Cause we work a lot?
These types of rankings are so attractive for media coverage and bloggers like myself. We love to see where our city ranks, we love to pat ourselves on the back. But there is not emotional ranking to these surveys – it’s all just facts and figures – and it’s the emotional component to working for moms that comes with the heaviest price for all of us.
So, I applaud Forbes for digging a little deeper this year and really looking beyond the surface at things like commuting time, cost of childcare, crime and ranking of physicians (DC ranked 8 for that). But what I’d like to see is a closer look from DC employers at why we fell from #2 to #9 and the repercussions of time away from family, demanding working hours and commuting time: what is the price we pay for these things in terms of our stress levels and our health?
And instead of applauding DC’s placement in the top ten, let’s spend more time looking at employers like the State University of New York at Buffalo who gives employees (including fathers) 28 weeks of time off for the birth of a child, including adoption. That’s a true attempt at work-life balance, something I’d prefer not to call a “benefit” and warrants a top ranking.
What do you think of these types of rankings? Forbes is asking what metrics they can change or should add to gauge what is really “best” for working moms? I’d vote they add a job flexibility ranking – isn’t that what so many are seeking?