This question came up once again this week at The Wall Street Journal’s Juggle blog, where the topic of the day was what parts of our personal life should we include on our curriculum vitae. The Juggle recommended listing those interests that you are truly passionate about that an an employer would also see as “a good fit.” So skateboarding is a yes if the company you are applying to is “young and hip” (like, say, Google) but a no if you are sending a resume to a bank. As for that hobby otherwise known as parenthood, The Juggle suggested going light on the nurturing unless you are applying for a job as a nurse, but to include any volunteer activities that highlight “successes that would transfer to the workplace, such as fundraising or organizational skills.”
I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t equate motherhood with a cool hobby like Bikram yoga or skateboarding. But never mind me. More important, employers don’t equate the two either. Frankly, The Wall Street Journal should know better.
Several years ago, The American Journal of Sociology published a provocative study called Getting a Job: is There a Motherhood Penalty?. The survey’s authors sent out identical resumes to employers — identical, that is, but for one crucial difference. One version of the resume contained the position “Parent-Teacher Association coordinator,” under a section devoted to outside interests. The other did not reference anything to do with children at all. The results? The women thought to be mothers were less likely to be offered a job and, if they did get the nod, were offered significantly less annual salary than their supposedly childless counterparts.
Mothers are often viewed as more devoted to their children than the workplace, and are treated accordingly by employers. One can, after all, choose to skip an afternoon of surfing in favor of cleaning the desk, but it is much harder to abandon a sick child. Few employers seem to care that motherhood teaches valuable lessons in everything from time management to keeping one’s cool in situations of extreme stress. Instead, employers are simply looking for someone they believe will be devoted to their job first and foremost and, in an economy where there are between five and six job applicants for each open position, they can likely find that person. After all, rates of everything from flextime to telecommuting have plunged in the past few years, as companies have found they don’t need to meet the needs of their employees as much as in the past.
So what do you think? Would you list anything parenthood related on a resume? If yes, what parts? If no, why not?