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Employer Support for Pregnant Mothers Higher Than for Adoptive Mothers

If employers do have policies and benefits in place, they are not well known among employees

The American workforce does not make it easy for parents, especially mothers, to thrive as both professionals and as parents. In fact, 32 percent of women say they have experienced workplace discrimination because of their parental status. Company culture is set from the top down, and employers who want to combat the motherhood penalty should begin before their employees are parents. 

We asked more than 2,000 women if they believe their employer makes a serious effort to support both birth and adoptive mothers.

Our survey found that working women feel employers make greater effort to support birth mothers than they do adoptive mothers, with 53 percent of working women believing employers make at least some effort to support pregnant mothers, and only 28 percent believing employers make at least some effort to support expecting adoptive mothers.

Employer support for pregnant mothers

If employers do have policies and benefits in place, they are not well known among employees. More than a quarter of women say they don’t know if their employer does make an effort to support birth mothers, and more than half of survey responses say they are unaware of efforts to support adoptive mothers.

Employer support for adoptive mothers

How can employers better support working mothers?

Support for pregnant and adoptive mothers can come in the form of paid maternity and paternity leave, paid time off, paid time for doctors' appointments, sick leave, flexible work hours, the ability to telecommute, equal opportunities for women and men, lactation rooms, a company culture (set from the top down) that supports parental duties as much as it does professional ones, family health benefits, or childcare assistance.

In May 2019, we sampled our audience to understand what working mothers want most from their employers:

1. Paid time off: sick days, personal days, vacation days

2. Flexible work hours: the ability to set your schedule as long as you get your work done

3. The people you work with: respectful, professional, and unbiased coworkers

4. Equal opportunities for women and men: promotions, leadership roles, salary increases, incentive programs, etc.

5.The ability to telecommute: flexibility to work remotely


Pregnancy: survey of 2,845 women in April 2019. Adoption: survey of 2,770 women in April 2019.

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By Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza

Content Strategist, InHerSight

Emily is on staff at InHerSight where she researches and writes about data that describes women in the workplace, women's compensation and contract literacy, and women's rights in the workplace. 

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