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Katherine Wintsch Headshot

Working Moms: Don't Give Governor Bryant's Comments a Second Thought

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By now, we've all heard or read about the ridiculous comments made by Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant earlier this week. When asked why U.S. students are "mediocre" in academic achievement, Bryant suggested that the tides started to turn when moms across America decided to start working outside the home.

I find it ironic that Governor Bryant began his statement by saying, "You want me to tell the truth?" when what he finished the statement with isn't actually the truth. I could go on for hours about the many ways in which his comments are wrong (morally, ethically, socially), but I've got kids to cram into clothes and shoes for school and stacks of work waiting for me at the office.

Let's keep this short and sweet and focus on how factually wrong his statement is. In the past 30 years, while the number of mothers entering the workforce has increased... so have national math and reading evaluation scores.

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So, the good news is that Gov. Bryant is wrong, as this data so clearly proves. The bad news is that ill-informed comments such as these have a tendency to take hold and play into the already deep-seated doubts raging inside working mothers across the country.

I've studied moms in 17 countries around the world and my research shows that self-doubt is the one overriding emotion among moms. It's a common theme across all income levels, cultures and backgrounds. And while all moms grapple with doubt, working moms must also navigate the guilt that comes with feeling like one person trying to live and thrive (and sometimes just survive) in two different worlds.

So, lady friends... resist the temptation to let this man's inaccurate comments make you doubt your life choices for one second. Besides, most mothers in this country simply don't have a choice. The latest research shows that a full two-thirds of the "breadwinning moms" in this country are single moms earning a median income of $23,000 a year.

And while mothers across the country can, and should, read Governor Bryant the riot act... the one mother leading the charge should be his own wife, who worked outside the home for over 38 years, including while their children were growing up.

OK. That's enough time spent trying to set the record straight -- my daughter's got Field Day today and we're putting the finishing touches on her tie-dye shirt.

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Yes, Governor, working mothers do take time away from their jobs to help their children thrive in school. And yes, a successful Field Day counts as thriving in my book.