SWFL mothers react to changing workplace perception of moms

Reporter: Lindsey Sablan Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:

Studies show women are penalized in the workplace just for being mothers. But, according to a new study by a Florida Gulf Coast University professor, that changes if the job is remote.

Dr. Meagan Baskin, an associate professor of management at FGCU, often works from her kitchen table with her two boys running around behind her.

Marianne Bowen, a mother of three, also went remote and now works a hybrid job.

“I think it gives me the opportunity to get the work done in the way that is best for me, as well as take care of my family,” Bowen said.

When a fellow mother of three, Alexa Massie, isn’t showing houses, she’s working at home to care for her children: 7 years old, 5 years old and 6 months old.

“Hattie, my 6-month-old, would be, like, screeching in the background when I’m trying to take an important business call,” Massie said. “I remember my very first job corporate. The second I became pregnant with my first daughter, everyone who I was working with kind of commented, ‘Oh, you’re done. Oh, we won’t be seeing you again in nine months.'”

Massie is referring to a phenomenon known as “the motherhood penalty.” Past studies show that if you’re a mom, your boss’ perception of how committed you are and how well you work goes down, even if your work doesn’t change.

“Don’t hide your kids,” Baskin said. “I think that we… we’ve done so much to try to fit ourselves into this ideal worker norm. It doesn’t exist.”

Baskin studied the motherhood penalty in remote work. She created fake employees, a man and a woman, over a Zoom-type platform and incorporated kids and toys to gauge supervisors’ reactions.
If there were just toys, bosses gave the mom a bad score.

“There were comments like, ‘She doesn’t seem to be focusing on her work; her background was not professional,'” Baskin said.

But, with the kids in the background, supervisors applauded the mom for doing it all.

“I love it,” Massie said of the findings. “I don’t want to hide my kids. You know, I’m the most proud about being a mom.”

Bowen says she’s even noticed a shift since 2020.

“It’s incredible to see the change from day one when we went remote to today because it’s completely acceptable to have your kids run in and ask you a question or ask you for a snack on a regular basis,” Bowen said. She calls it “watching humanitarianism unfolding in real-time.”

A WINK News survey polled women about the motherhood penalty and found 63% say they lost out on a promotion because they’re moms.

You can read more of the results and anonymous responses here:

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