InDepth Interviews

What can we say? We love talking to smart women doing smart things. Here are some of our favorite conversations.

 
 
 U.S. Senators Kelly Ayotte and Kirsten Gillibrand Photo: Getty Images

U.S. Senators Kelly Ayotte and Kirsten Gillibrand Photo: Getty Images

Mom to Mom On the Issues: An Interview with Senators Ayotte & Gillibrand

Paid leave, equal pay, flexible work, affordable childcare—or at least a higher cap on flexible spending accounts. With each presidential cycle, we working moms watch as candidates use these crucial issues to excite voters. Then the cycle passes and our wait for change continues. Working Mother is nearly 40 years old, and in that time we’ve seen some improvements on the working-family front.

Certainly the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993, which now gives about 60 percent of employees access to protected unpaid leave, was a step in the right direction. But how long do we have to wait to step up to paid leave? Or affordable childcare, and even the right to request flexible work?

To get the inside scoop on these burning questions, we tapped two leading working-mom senators, Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), for their perspective on what legislation has the best hope of passing—and what it will take to get the job done.

 
 Illo:  Eric Siry . Photo: iStock.

Illo: Eric Siry. Photo: iStock.

Breastfeeding, Pumping and the Unending Pressure on Working Moms

The vast majority of new moms try breastfeeding—and if they work, breast pumping too. Professor and author Courtney Jung discusses with Working Mother's Jennifer Owens the difference between the two—and why it matters so much.

Pumping sucks.

Okay, it’s a bad pun, but chances are you’re intimately familiar with the meaning behind it. Pumping can be painful, time-consuming and, let’s face it, a hassle. Even so, studies show that some 79 percent of new moms initiate breastfeeding—and in New York City, where Working Mother is based, it’s 90 percent. In an election season of intense conflict, it’s amazing to think that breastfeeding babies is an issue on which nearly all of us agree.

 
 Jessica Alba Photo: Mike Rosenthal/Tack Artist Group

Jessica Alba Photo: Mike Rosenthal/Tack Artist Group

Honest Mom: The Big-Biz Journey of Jessica Alba

Last year, Jessica’s consumer goods venture, The Honest Company, completed its fourth round of funding, attracting $100 million in new invest- ment and helping raise its value to an estimated $1.7 billion. The success of this four-year-old company has landed her in business magazines and lifted her into the rarified world of successful startups.

But like so many other entrepreneur moms, Jessica (with co-founder Christopher Gavigan) is as focused on mission as on money. For even as The Honest Company has grown to feature more than 100 nontoxic products (including the new Honest Beauty line and overnight diapers), it has also donated nearly 600,000 products as well as more than 2,700 employee volunteer hours.

 
 Mika Brzezinski Photo: Nathan Congleton

Mika Brzezinski Photo: Nathan Congleton

Mika brzezinski on Reinventing Yourself as a Working Mom After Career Setbacks

Mika Brzezinski is the first to admit she’s tough on new working moms—when everything is new and the baby is young and you can learn everything there is to know about being a working mother. Come back to me, she says, when you’re mid-parenting, mid- career, mid-everything. That’s when it can get ugly, not fun and not pretty. And that’s just where she likes it.

Mom of young adults Emilie and Carlie, Mika is a beautiful woman who knows about the ugly. She’s been fired, and she’s crawled back to find new ways to succeed in her career. But what she’s really fired up about is what comes after you’ve been knocked down a time or two. 

 Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister

Singled Out: The Rise of Single Working Moms in America

Could the institution of marriage go the way of telegrams, 8-track players and Blockbuster? Well, no. And yet the idea that a family always includes a married man and woman is a certainty last seen in the 1990s. As the marriage rate falls and the divorce rate rises (although it’s holding steady for college-educated Americans), single-mom families are becoming a new norm. In 2014, 40 percent of all births arrived to unmarried women, and it’s estimated that half of all kids live with a single mom at some point while growing up.

In All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation, journalist Rebecca Traister, herself a married working mom (of two daughters, 5 and almost 2), calls out not only the stats but also the biases and policy roadblocks single moms face, along with all the new configurations of families that now exist—and what we can do to help all working families thrive.

 
 Wendi Lazar Photo: Laura Barisonzi

Wendi Lazar Photo: Laura Barisonzi

What Every Woman Should Know About Sexual Harassment at Work
 

In 1976, nearly 90 percent of women surveyed by Redbook reported having been sexually harassed at work. But things have changed, right?

Not quite. Redbookmag.com asked their readers in 2016 to take the very same survey from 1976, and they released the results in April 2017. Of the 500 women who responded, 80 percent said they experienced sexual harassment at work. Stories of intimidation and fear at work remain the same, and 37 percent of women in that Redbook survey who said male colleagues had made sexual advances toward them ignored the action, hoping it would stop.

It’s just that sort of story that brought Wendi Lazar to employment law after a fulfilling first career as a journalist and filmmaker. Having long focused on social and political issues, the New York City native realized she could have an even bigger impact as a lawyer.