So while Friedan was right in her counterintuitive claim that maternal employment could be good for women and families, she failed to foresee that the United States, which pioneered public education for all and was on the verge of establishing a comprehensive child care system in 1971 (before President Richard M. Nixon vetoed the bill), would by the early 21st century have fallen to last place among developed nations in supports for working families. While the average working woman might be better off, we need to offer better maternity leave and child care for those more at risk.
After 50 years, shouldn’t we stop debating whether we want mothers to work and start implementing the social policies and working conditions that will allow families to take full advantage of the benefits of women’s employment and to minimize its stresses?
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