INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY:
How &Mother Co-Founders #ChooseToChallenge
Choosing to challenge is nothing new for &Mother co-founders Alysia Montaño and Molly Dickens. In fact, they’ve been doing it for a long time—it's kind of what &Mother is all about:
“Breaking the barriers that limit a woman’s choice to pursue and thrive in both career and motherhood.”
The theme for this International Women’s Day is “Choose to Challenge.” Read below to find out what this theme means to the &Mother duo and learn more about their nonprofit.
Why did you start &Mother?
We started &Mother to address the societal and cultural issues women face in the workplace that have inherently placed barriers on women from pursuing and thriving in both career and motherhood.
What are some major obstacles that women face when choosing career and motherhood?
The cross section of motherhood and career is a gender equality issue. It affects all women whether or not they have or will have children.
For working mothers, this has honestly been one of the hardest years, and has exposed many of the structural and cultural issues that limit the choice of career AND motherhood.
Even before this year, many women starting their families faced discrimination in the workplace (based in maternal bias and stereotype) and the motherhood penalty—research showing that mothers are viewed less competent and are hired less, paid less, and promoted less simply because they are women with children.
Working mothers have taken the hardest professional hit during the pandemic, opting out or being pushed out of the workforce as childcare and remote school demands reveal structural failures that disproportionately affect women.
What are some goals that you would like to accomplish for &Mother?
We want to help establish the scaffold for structural and cultural change that will be so critical as the world rebuilds from this year.
To do this we will be working towards a Narrative Shift— changing the dialogue around and representation of motherhood; demonstrating the value and necessity of Individual Support; and working towards Institutional Change centering on family-friendly work policy.
Our first initiative focuses on the Sports Industry. The barriers of “and mother”-hood that professional female athletes face is an excellent microcosm for what women face across professional industries.
Narrative Shift = Telling the stories that go against stereotype, increasing visibility of motherhood, joining the community together, highlighting the value that mothers bring to their chosen career.
Individual Support = Directly supporting three &Mother core team athletes training for and competing in Olympic Trials; additional support for mother athletes to cover family travel/childcare expenses.
Alysia, can you tell us about Dream Maternity?
Dream Maternity is a movement that is a call out to society to push back and challenge the status quo that repeatedly fails mothers. From workplace policies to a micro-aggressive workplace culture that was never set up with mothers in mind across all industries. Dream Maternity, specifically sought to call out BIG BRANDS who benefited from preaching one thing about women empowerment, but within the structures of its operations has implemented harmful workplace policies that place mothers under attack and ultimately stripped them the ability to “Dream Crazy.” These BIG BRANDS were not walking the talk. As professionals in the workplace, mothers continuously fight for their right to progress and thrive in both their career and motherhood. Dream Maternity is the movement saying ENOUGH TALK, WALK. &Mother is the action pushing everyone to walk the talk.
It is coming up on the one-year anniversary of Dream Maternity, what does that mean to you?
It’s crazy to think that the inception of the Dream Maternity led to the founding of &Mother just one year after that courageous call out, and now we are at the one-year anniversary mark of our non-profit organization, so it has been a total of two years and we still have a long way to go. But we are moving in the direction of progress. We by no means want to be a crutch for the failings of industries, brands, and companies towards our mothers, but we do want to offer a space where they can contribute towards change or look to us as an example and a resource. It feels validating for so many reasons that we have eyes on this issue, and we feel proud of the work that we have done to raise awareness and effect change.
What can we all do to help further support women and mothers?
Advocate for and support the women in your own life.
Challenge stereotype and bias.
Buy from brands that actively support their female athletes with and without children (e.g., Altra, Cadenshae, etc.)
If you are a mother (and are able to without retribution) enhance the visibility of what work/life is like by showing your motherhood—talk about your kids, your need to pump breastmilk or feed, calendar around remote school or kid pickup, etc.
Learn more about &Mother by visiting their website and following them on Instagram.
We’re excited to announce our upcoming Mom Forward 5k in partnership with &Mother. The virtual race will honor and celebrate the ways we can make a positive change toward gender equality with all registration proceeds benefiting &Mother and our mission to break the barriers that limit a woman’s choice to pursue and thrive in motherhood and career.
Race registration opens March 23. Stay tuned on our Instagram or check back later to register!