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50 of the World’s Most Sexist Laws, Policies and Norms

34% of countries restrict women from working in certain jobs or industries. In 41 countries, employers can
legally dismiss pregnant workers. More than 1 billion women do not have access to the financial system.


Deceiving the Biological Clock: A millennial’s take on egg freezing

Young women are considering egg freezing more and more often. I am too — but why? Do we fear career stagnation at an early age? Are our biological clocks making us nervous? Or is it just fear of the growing infertility rate, especially as we advance in age? And if we decide to pursue it, what are the financial ramifications?

Let’s start with the basics.

What is egg freezing? 

Oocyte cryopreservation for non-medical reasons, known as egg freezing, has enhanced the reproductive autonomy of women by allowing us to delay childbearing while preserving the possibility of maintaining a biological relation with our future kids. 

The general process involves three steps: ovulation induction, egg retrieval and egg freezing.

In ovulation induction, synthetic hormones are injected at the start of the menstrual cycle to stimulate the ovaries. This ensures they produce multiple eggs instead of the single egg that is usually produced every month. The follicles (small fluid-filled sacs in the ovaries that release eggs) are ready for egg retrieval after about 8 to 14 days. At this point, hcG hormones or other medications are injected to help mature the eggs. 

Egg retrieval is a short procedure carried out under sedation. The most common method used for the purpose is transvaginal ultrasound aspiration. In this approach, an ultrasound probe introduced into the vagina identifies the follicles. Then a needle is passed through the vagina to reach the follicle, where a suction device attached to the needle removes multiple eggs from the follicle. 

Egg freezing involves retrieving the unfertilized eggs and then cooling them to a sub-zero temperature so that all their biological activities stop and they can be preserved for future use. To prevent ice crystal formation during the freezing process, substances called cryoprotectants may be used. Proper freezing of eggs is important because if not preserved correctly, it can impact the chances of a successful pregnancy.

Egg freezing is a costly procedure, with expenses typically ranging from $5,000 to over $20,000 for a single cycle. Costs vary based on the fertility clinic and medications used. But even so, the popularity of the process is increasing. Between 2019 and 2021, in the UK there was a nearly 64% increase in egg storage cycles. And in the US, the number of egg-freezing cycles grew from 16,786 in 2020 to 24,558 in 2022, a marked 31% increase in fertility preservation treatment.

Meanwhile, the topic of egg freezing has nearly 75 million views on TikTok, so those of younger ages are being exposed to the trend. In fact, nearly three in five surveyed Gen Zers and millennials admitted to being worried about their fertility.

What motivates women to freeze their eggs?

With needles and sedation involved, the motivation to undergo this procedure must be pretty strong. What’s driving women to do this? 

For some, it’s a sense of control and freedom. Actress Priyanka Chopra, for example, said, “I felt such freedom, I did it in my early thirties and I could continue on an ambitious warpath, I wanted to achieve and I wanted to get to a certain place in my career. Also, I had not met the person with whom I wanted to have children.” 

Similarly, British TV personality Vicki Pattinson shared, “It has taken the pressure off loads. We are planning a wedding and we want to enjoy married life. This has given us the luxury of time and options.” She adds, “I had spent my whole life in a rush to be loved so I could do all the things I thought a woman was meant to do but now I’m doing things when they are right for me so I feel really empowered.”

Sara Jacobs, a member of the House of Representatives, decided to freeze her eggs in her late twenties to ensure she would be able to become a parent alongside her highly demanding career. A co-sponsor for the Access to Infertility Treatment and Care Act, she asserts, “Egg freezing is very expensive, and it shouldn’t be limited to those who can afford it. It’s about ensuring prospective parents can choose when and if to start a family.”

And there are medical justifications as well. Actress Emma Roberts froze her eggs to preserve fertility when diagnosed with endometriosis, a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus, causing severe pain in the pelvis and making it harder to get pregnant.

Dr. David Adamson, founder, chairman and CEO of ARC Fertility, described the situations he commonly encounters in his practice. “Many decide to freeze their eggs so they can finish their education or advance their careers before having children. It’s also a choice for those facing cancer treatments that could affect their fertility or medical treatments that might harm their egg quality. Some women freeze their eggs because they haven’t found the right partner yet but want to have kids later, while others are waiting until they’re more financially ready. For some, egg freezing is a valuable option when they’re dealing with health issues or other situations that make having a child right now difficult.”

What surprised me is how many women in my age group and network, primarily working in the tech industry and in their late twenties, are considering freezing their eggs as well. They have various reasons, like uncertain career stability, timing, and the challenge of relocating to different countries. The major hurdle for them is the high cost of the procedure — but they also note that there’s often a stigma attached to egg freezing, and in places like China and Turkey, unmarried women face restrictions. This shows that the ability to freeze eggs is not only a financial privilege but also influenced by cultural norms, highlighting the continued need for more accessible reproductive options for women.

Is the motherhood penalty to blame?

The motherhood penalty stems from a stereotypical view that women are primary caregivers and have a duty to stay at home and raise their children. Based on the assumption that mothers are often distracted by their kids, those who choose to work may be seen as less competent or less committed to their jobs. The motherhood penalty affects many aspects of a woman’s career, such as earnings, ability to get hired, evaluations, and promotions. And fear of discrimination may cause some women to delay having children until their careers are more established — thus making egg freezing more attractive. 

According to National Health Statistics Reports, the trend of delayed childbearing — having a first child at 35 or older — has risen significantly. It increased ninefold between 1972 and 2012 and continues to rise.

In fact, having a first child at an older age may improve women’s wages and career paths. Studies and data have shown that women who reach executive levels with higher earnings before having their first child may have a better chance of maintaining their career success post-kids. 

Even so, Carol Fishman Cohen, CEO and co-founder of return-to-work program provider iRelaunch, counsels women against waiting for the “right time” professionally to have children, insisting that “no time is perfect. Women we have heard from over the years regretted trying to time their pregnancies strategically from a career perspective.” The longer they waited, the more likely they would be facing high risk pregnancies and related problems.

Does offering egg freezing as a workplace benefit really empower women?

Despite the costs, as of 2020, almost one in five (19%) large U.S. employers offered egg freezing benefits to their employees. That’s up from only 6% in 2015. However, new research published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that egg freezing benefits can send a negative signal to employees and prospective employees. The problem is that some feel the company is encouraging employees to freeze eggs so they can work more years unencumbered by pregnancy and child-rearing. So the benefit can inadvertently signal that the organization pressures workers to sacrifice their personal lives. 

But the researchers don’t suggest that companies scrap their egg-freezing policies. “Despite the negative reactions egg freezing coverage evokes, our work does not imply organizations should not offer the policy; it is likely a valued benefit for employees who would like to freeze their eggs and could not otherwise afford to do so.” While it can be seen as an empowering option, it’s essential for corporate leaders to take steps to ensure that this benefit is not misinterpreted as pressure to prioritize work over family.

According to Dr. Adamson, “most companies include egg freezing benefits with other fertility-related benefits. They do so to be inclusive and comprehensive in their offering and also equitable. As such, more people are now seeing egg freezing benefits as a positive reflection of the company’s commitment to the reproductive needs of their workforce.

In pursuit of both family and career

Ideally, women would simply have kids when it felt right, there would be childcare resources to help us once we resumed our jobs, employers would welcome us back without bias and with open arms, and we’d continue to be paid what we’re worth. But since that’s not the case just yet, egg freezing plays an important role in allowing women to gain some control over our reproductive future. It’s not about choosing between career and family; it’s about empowering women to pursue both. By promoting inclusive family-forming benefits and challenging stereotypes, together, we can make reproductive choices a reality.

Shivangi Mehra is an Associate at Liftery and founder of Limitless Stree, an initiative to empower women and girls in India. She also serves as the Research Mentor for young researchers at UNESCO. She can be reached via LinkedIn.


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The Perfect LinkedIn Headshot

I overthink my LinkedIn profile photo. I don’t know if it’s a woman-thing or a me-thing, but I’m always feeling I should somehow find a better one. I guess I could just stick my hand out and take a selfie on a day when I’m wearing makeup and my hair doesn’t look too limp or too wiry. Or I could pay someone to take one for me. But even if I outsourced, I’d still need to find the photographer, schedule the session, primp and figure out what to wear… and pay for it… without knowing with any certainty that the session will produce the perfect LinkedIn headshot. And seeing that LinkedIn profiles with a photo get 21x more views than those without, a good photo is a must-have.

So what even is a good LinkedIn photo?

Given the nature of the platform, you’d think the main objective would be to look professional. Okay, so no cleavage. But what else? Should we smile broadly to emanate warmth and friendliness? Or would a fainter grin make us look more knowledgeable and authoritative? Should we look straight at the camera or select a more artsy angled shot? Do we go for a bright lip color to make a statement or keep our makeup more understated and natural with the hope of seeming more approachable? 

The best look for you likely depends on your industry, the role you’re in (or in the case of job seekers, the role you’re aspiring to), and perhaps your personal style or brand. An investment banker will dress and pose differently from an engineer, a school teacher, or the head of a creative studio, for example. 

Across all professions, a smile will make you appear more friendly and measurably bump up your likability factor. And if you’re on the hunt for a new opportunity, hiring managers — perhaps subconsciously — could be more likely to reach out to someone who seems pleasant to work with. Of course, if you promote yourself as an artist or brooding deep thinker (whether a writer, sculptor, musician, actor, or a tenured academic), you may choose to forego the smile to reinforce your personal brand. 

Regardless of your facial expression, keep your background plain — a white wall works just fine, as does a background remover app after the fact. Use natural light if possible. And a selfie taken with the camera slightly higher than your face is usually more flattering than shots taken from below. 

If that weren’t enough to remember, research has shown that as women in the workplace, it behooves us to look attractive, yet not too attractive. And we definitely don’t want to look too old. Ageism is real

Creating the perfect LinkedIn headshot certainly takes some thought and intention. Which easily explains why I think about upgrading my headshot, and never do so. 

But there’s actually another way to go about this. Recent advances in generative artificial intelligence have sprung a multitude of headshot apps. You submit snapshots of yourself from your phone’s photo roll, and anywhere from an hour to a couple days later, you’ll receive a portfolio of AI-generated headshots to choose from. Compared to the price of a 1:1 photo session, it’s extremely affordable too, especially considering that you don’t need to have your hair done or buy a power suit. Some women are lucky enough to score a shot or two they’re really happy with — that look like a better, more polished version of themselves. The perfect hairdo, as if they’d just stepped out of the salon. The perfect blouse + blazer combo — decidedly unstuffy, with a little flair. The perfect smile that inspires confidence. You get the idea.

And others have giggled uncontrollably at images returned with zero resemblance. Sporting a disjointed limb, or extra ones. And oftentimes, larger, perkier breasts. (Although $39.99 is a great price for a boob job, you can’t ignore the many manifestations of gender bias in AI.) 

I can’t help but wonder, though. What happens if your AI-produced photo is perfect — but doesn’t look like you? If the runway look and chiseled features that the AI graciously bestows on you aren’t at all realistic? Will new acquaintances be baffled or even disappointed when you appear on Zoom — or in person! — looking a lot like… yourself

Privacy is another consideration, and the various apps have different policies. It seems that most do use your AI likeness to train their learning models. This is what helps the service continually improve over time. But you can usually delete both your original photos as well as your AI-produced images at any time. 

Even with these caveats, there’s one fabulous reason to give it a whirl — the hours you can save by NOT having to plan and prepare to capture a professional-looking photo. 

If you’d like to try it, whether for your LinkedIn profile or just a good laugh, here are a few mom-tested apps to consider:

Try It On AI. You submit 10-20 good quality cellphone selfies and a few hours later, receive 100 headshots to choose from. Like most AI image generators, you may notice extra limbs, fingers or teeth, though most users do score a few usable gems. $17, no refunds.

Aragon AI. Upload 14 photos to receive images with multiple backgrounds and poses in less than an hour. Privacy-friendly. $29.99 for 40 headshots and $39.99 for 80. They do grant refunds if you don’t find anything you like.

Secta Labs. Submit 25-35 photos of yourself to get 300 headshots a few hours later. The price includes two retries and some slick editing/retouching tools you can use to perfect your photos. If even that doesn’t yield a headshot you like, they’ll refund you. $49.

Dreamwave AI. Upload just 8 images and get 120 headshots two hours later, with both formal and casual poses and a nice variety of backgrounds. Privacy friendly. No refunds. $39.

StudioShot AI. Upload 10-20 images, and 2 days later, you’ll receive 50 hand-retouched photos for $29.25. They don’t offer refunds, but they do offer to manually touch up your photos again and again until you’re happy with the result.

A few general AI headshot hints:

  • The better the photos that you submit, the better the result. This does not mean that you need to look picture-perfect. It means that you should be plainly visible and in sharp focus.
  • The AI will do best if you submit shots in different outfits, lighting, angles, and locations.
  • As a precaution, you may want to avoid wearing a hat in the photos you submit.
  • You’ll notice that each app requires a different number of photos and has its own instructions for selecting photos to submit. For best results, follow the app’s rules, and when a range is given for the number of photos required, upload more than the minimum number.

Whether you’re choosing between selfies, a photographer’s photos, AI headshots, or a mix, you can use a photo tester site like for feedback. Or better yet, go with your gut and upload the one that you feel best represents your fabulous professional self. (Just don’t forget to crop out any extra body parts first.)


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Deceiving the Biological Clock: A millennial’s take on egg freezing



Parenthood Report : Legal Careers of Parents and Child Caregivers

We cannot afford to pretend that this bias towards mothers and other child caregivers does not exist in the legal profession, or that it is solely a Big Law problem. The data show that mothers, in particular, face biases and challenges in all types of roles.


Women in the Workplace 2023 : The State of Women in Corporate America

Women are more ambitious than before the pandemic—and flexibility is fueling that ambition. One in 5 women say flexibility has helped them stay at their organization or avoid reducing their hours.


A Teen’s Perspective on Parenting Through Divorce

My parents didn’t get divorced until I was 11, but I have been the child of a single mother for far longer. Both my parents worked through my adolescence, but it was my mom who planned my birthdays, who volunteered at school, who took care of me. She was the one who always felt the pressure of my childhood needs, and the guilt that came from her inability to balance all of my requests and a full time job. The divorce was a long time coming, but that didn’t stop it from being one of the hardest years of my life. Not for the reasons that most would assume, but because it made me realize how lonely the prior years before the divorce had been.

Divorce guilt is increasingly common in mothers, especially as divorce becomes more accessible to households with cultures that don’t condone it. My mom spent years raising me alongside my dad because of her fear about how a divorce would affect me. The truth is that my parents’ divorce was the beginning of so much happiness in my life. And since that time, my relationships with my family, friends, and myself have been filled with so much personal fulfillment. I know how to set boundaries, how to put myself first, and how to recognize a draining connection. The divorce taught me the difference between a healthy and unhealthy relationship. If my parents had continued to be together, I would have grown up thinking that marriage and love are synonymous with arguments and isolation. 

The stigma behind divorce comes from a place of misogyny. Society generally assumes that depriving a child of a father and a united home is a burden that the mother must bear. That her wish for divorce is selfish. In reality, divorce is putting your children first. It’s taking them out of a toxic household. It’s teaching them that they can leave bad relationships and be happy. It’s showing them how to take charge of their own lives, and never put someone else’s happiness above their own.

If there is one thing that a parent must do in the face of a divorce, it is to disassociate the marital problems from the children on any and every level. The only time my parents’ divorce felt like a negative aspect of my life was when relatives in India — culturally unaccustomed to divorce — looked down on my family because of the separation. The whispers are still going strong seven years later, but I know that they have nothing to do with me or my relationship with either of my parents. This is because my mom explained my extended family’s likely disapproval the second the divorce happened. Giving your children the knowledge they need to adjust to this new dynamic is crucial to their achieving and maintaining happiness. 

Overarchingly, communication is the key factor in every stage of the divorce. From the second it has been brought up between partners, the children should be involved to some extent. You may think that it can remain a secret, but children will pick up on any shift within the household. It is critical to explain or educate them about the situation, rather than allow them to speculate and come to the common conclusion that they caused the problems. Furthermore, when the divorce happens, children need to be part of the decisions that come along with it. The first few weeks after the divorce, I felt lost because so many things were left unclear to me. Vacations, my extracurriculars, Christmas, and my birthday all felt like my responsibility because neither parent had told me what the schedule was. I began to spiral because choosing the house where I’d spend Christmas morning felt like choosing which of my parents I liked best. It is never the child’s responsibility to be in charge of schedules. However, a communicative environment where they have the choice to make requests is just as important. 

Divorces and their aftermath are messy and complicated. That doesn’t mean that we as a society should shy away from them or view them as anything other than improving an unhappy situation. Making the choice to become a single parent is one of the hardest and bravest things a person can do. Your children will be okay in a divorced environment (probably far better off than in an acrimonious household), as long as you provide them with the tools they need to be happy. 

Laya Karthik, Liftery intern, is a senior at Mountain View High School, president of the Mountain View High School chapter of March for Our Lives, and the child of a single mom. You can find her on Instagram at @laya.karthik. 

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The Wage Gap Robs Mothers of What They’re Owed

Among full-time, year-round workers, mothers are typically paid 74 cents for every dollar paid to fathers. This means the wage gap typically robs mothers working full time, year-round of $1,500 a month or $18,000 a year.


Paying Attention: Working moms with ADHD

A therapy client of mine is a mother of two pre-teens and works a demanding job in a high-pressure legal operations team. Her partner lives in a different city for work reasons and as a result, she ends up with the bulk of the day-to-day parenting responsibilities. Often, she jokes about things like going grocery shopping after picking up her daughter from soccer, putting the chicken they’d bought for dinner on the roof of the car while unloading the rest of the shopping, and forgetting all about it. Or working on an important client presentation, going into the kitchen to get some water, seeing a few dirty plates, and then starting to clean them while completely forgetting the fact that she had a deadline for the presentation. These aren’t one-off situations. There seems to be a trail of distraction and forgetfulness, as she herself refers to these occurrences.

She attributes these “detours” to a lack of attentiveness. She sounds apologetic when discussing how she didn’t mean to “mess up.” But she feels like she does, every day.

“Been like this since I was a teen. Always forgetting things. Always lost in class at school. Thought I’d do better as an adult but here we are!”

She is not alone. I engage with quite a few mothers working in corporate jobs who bring up their struggles with memory recall, managing daily tasks and wavering attention spans. Another therapy client of mine puts it succinctly – “the stillness [of being away from my workplace], the lack of contact and chatter… gave me the pause against which I finally felt the depth of my struggle with being able to concentrate.”

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnoses among adults are growing four times faster than are ADHD diagnoses among children in the United States. ADHD is reported to occur in about 4.4% of the adult population in the US. Still, most scientists as well as mental health practitioners believe adult ADHD remains underdiagnosed.

Adult ADHD is an anomaly in how it is often a trending topic online and yet, a misunderstood subject, particularly in the workplace. This is largely due to the lack of awareness and clarity about what it really is. The biomedical model for psychiatric diagnosis categorizes it as a neurodevelopmental disorder that poses changes and challenges to what are considered standard aspects of cognitive functioning — especially attention and emotional regulation. It alters the executive functioning of the human brain, affects the developmental journey of children, and extends into adulthood. However, in recent years, a growing movement in support of neurodivergence – the inclusion and representation of how our brains can function in different ways as opposed to conforming to a rigid universal standard – has made room for understanding ADHD under a psychosocial lens. This second view contends that ADHD is not necessarily a disorder, but a different type of cognitive functioning based on divergent responses to environmental stimuli.

Our interpersonal and social interaction frameworks are largely based on certain widely accepted social standards. We assume everyone can pay attention if only they try harder, or that occupational tasks should be defined by neurotypical traits such as linear thinking, readiness for socialization and understanding social cues. When everyone is forced to comply with these arbitrary norms, they might not always do well or live up to expectations. This also allows us to question if we should really stop labeling ADHD as a dysfunction or disorder and instead include it in our understanding of how different human brains process information very differently. While these debates remain up in the air, they’re relevant in helping us comprehend the ADHD experience for ourselves and for others around us.

ADHD in children is usually noticed and addressed based on displays of hyperactivity. As a result, other forms of ADHD which don’t include hyperactivity as a very prominent component are largely ignored or misattributed to individual lack of capabilities or “weaknesses.” For example, a subtype of ADHD is rooted in inattentiveness. In this case, there may not be any hyperactivity, but the person could zone in and out of conversations, tasks, and activities without awareness. Or they might procrastinate or have trouble being on time. 

Individualization of a neurodevelopmental condition like ADHD creates isolation and perpetuates biases about laziness, poor IQ, lack of impulse control, and the like. This is even more evident when we look at the treatment of working moms with ADHD. Another fallout of these biases is the misinformation exchanged about ADHD in adults. So many of my own therapy clients who slowly started recognizing that they were probably dealing with ADHD had for several years believed that they were just incompetent or incapable.

These misconceptions are exacerbated when we add gender into the mix. Changes in hormonal activity at puberty, during pregnancy or menopause, for example, can further impact how and when ADHD is displayed and noticed. Research has shown that in recent years women in the US between the age groups of 30-45 are more frequently diagnosed with ADHD. This also means that for women, the recognition of ADHD might come at a later stage in life and sometimes converge with changes related to pregnancy and motherhood. This could result in mistaking adult ADHD for what is commonly called mommy brain.

Mommy brain is a term that is used to denote the brain fog, interrupted cognitive functionality and periods of memory daze that quite a few women experience during their pregnancies and post-partum phase. A study conducted by the University of British Columbia claims that the physical, psychological, and psychosocial stressors of pregnancy and motherhood change a woman’s brain functions related to emotional regulation and memory recall. Mommy brain is characterized by forgetfulness, difficulty in managing one’s attention span, feeling blank, and fluctuations in cognitive functioning, much like adult ADHD. But a major distinction is that the former is largely a situational and short-term disturbance whereas the latter is more of a deep-seated, long-term, chronic response loop. 

Adult ADHD in mothers is inadvertently tied into sociocultural expectations of unconditional resilience from women. Many women who started exhibiting signs of ADHD at a much younger age weren’t given the space to unpack their experiences. And in an organizational working environment, functioning with ADHD is compounded by gender biases that immediately label any type of non-conforming behavior as fragility, incapability and inefficiency — causing further alienation.

When I asked working mothers on my social media platform to share their experiences of living with ADHD, Sallyanne Rock, a UK-based mother of two teenagers and a former service desk manager, wrote to me about how when she first discussed her ADHD with her immediate boss, she was met with a lack of understanding and empathy. This led to her decision not to approach HR and occupational health services within the organization because she had already resolved to leave the job.

“I think that experiencing burnout, realising I had ADHD and recognising that I had been masking my difficulties for a long time was instrumental in my decision to resign. My day to day job involved so many Zoom calls and so much task switching that I felt unable to continue with it. In addition, because I worked in an operational environment, my working day and routine could be interrupted at any moment by a service outage that I would need to drop everything and respond to, which I found incredibly disruptive and difficult to deal with.”

If you think you may have ADHD, consider the following: 

Schedule a screening/assessment. Consult with your healthcare provider or employer-sponsored mental health provider to find a trained mental health practitioner to conduct an ADHD evaluation. 

Join a support community. Online support and advocacy groups such as these groups from the Attention Deficit Disorder Association and this group for moms with ADHD provide forums where you can chat with other ADHD adults — for information, advice and empathy. 

Identify and make room for your ADHD needs. Working moms have a lot to juggle, and repressing any ADHD-related discomfort can lead the stress to vent in unintended ways. Talk to your partner, a trusted friend or colleague about your experiences. If you feel a WFH/hybrid working model or a low-stimulation setup (dim lights, quiet) allows you to be more focused and productive, it is quite alright to discuss this with your manager to figure out a collaborative solution. Choose a method of disclosure in the workplace that makes you feel safe and secure. If you need help preparing for this conversation, you can ask your doctor, therapist, or career coach for their assistance.

Explore workplace tools and set expectations. Take advantage of scheduling apps, project management tools, organizers, and activity trackers to manage your daily tasks and reduce overwhelm. And set expectations about your response time and work habits. For example, let people know that if you are concentrating on a deliverable, you won’t check personal messages or might opt out of a fun office discussion occurring simultaneously. You are not being rude; you just need to direct your attention fully. If switching your video off during Zoom meetings helps you focus better, inform colleagues in advance. 

Here’s how organizations can help employees with ADHD:

Design mental-health-inclusive HR policies and foster an environment of psychological safety. The right organizational policies can create an environment where employees can bring their whole selves to work and ask for any necessary accommodations without fearing repercussions. Instead of individualizing employee struggles, build flexibility into your support offerings. For example, flexwork options and childcare programs are life savers for mothers with full-time jobs, while also boosting employee loyalty.

Offer supplementary mental health services. Mental healthcare should be a part of employee benefit programs. Assessments and screening for ADHD are difficult to access and often have very long waitlists. Organizations can contract directly with employee mental healthcare providers to make these services — as well as ADHD-focused occupational therapy — readily available to employees.

Build a mental health-friendly culture. Culture shapes interactions. If the organizational culture either directly or indirectly negates the experiences of those with ADHD, it can sniff out formidable talent and stifle diversity, which has been proven to improve a company’s profitability. Leaders and managers should be coached to respect the lived experience of others rather than enforcing rigid productivity rules that often backfire.


Scherezade Siobhan is an award-winning writer, psychologist educator and a community organizer who founded and runs Qureist — a therapeutic space for psychosocial wellness. Her work is featured and published in Medium, Berfrois, Quint, Vice, HuffPost, Feministing, Jubilat, The London Magazine, The Body Is Not An Apology among others. She is the author of “Bone Tongue” (Thought Catalog Books, 2015), “Father, Husband” (Salopress, 2016) and “The Bluest Kali” (Lithic Press, 2018). She is the current writer in residence at the University of Stirling and the winner of the Charles Wallace Grant, 2022. Her next book is “That Beautiful Elsewhere” by Harper Collins, set to be released in fall of 2023. She can be reached at or on Twitter and Instagram at @zaharaesque.


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Motherhood Shouldn’t Stifle Women’s Income

American mothers typically earn less than childless women, while fathers earn just as much as childless men. The “motherhood penalty” has been documented for years, and it’s the primary reason for the overall gender gap in earnings between men and women.


Guide to Navigating Your Maternity Leave

Congratulations! You’re about to become a mama — a hugely exciting milestone that will absolutely upend life as you know it. Enter baby snuggles, tiny clothes, so many diapers, and let’s face it — not a lot of sleep. Taking a multi-month parental leave (which you should absolutely do!) also has the potential to impact your career. But with some planning and proactive measures, you can navigate this transition smoothly without derailing your work-related goals. Here are some things to do before, during and after your maternity leave to keep your professional growth on track.


Communicate. Meet with your manager to discuss coverage during your absence, what you’d like to be contacted about during your leave, and expectations of your responsibilities when you return. Also make it clear that you’re dedicated to your role — this will instill confidence that you’ll still have your head in the game upon your return.

Plan to pass the torch. Whether you’re a people manager or individual contributor, set up your team to operate independently in the short term. Collaborate with your coworkers to create a detailed, written plan that ensures a smooth workflow during your absence, and designate someone to go to for help. Document your role, existing processes and ongoing projects, and then transition responsibilities to key players.

Be mindful of the review cycle. If performance reviews will take place during your absence and you’re a people manager, draft your evaluations before your leave, while everything is very fresh in your mind. And while you’re at it, draft your self review as well.

Learn. Find out about your company’s maternity-related policies and the accommodations available for your transition back to work. Can you ease back in with a 4-day workweek or even at 50% for the first few weeks? Could you work from home 2-3 days a week if that isn’t already the norm? Or might you want to negotiate a slightly decreased workload? What’s the precedent set by other moms at your company? Is there an employee resource group for new moms where you can find information and support? Or a dedicated HR representative who can help guide you both before and after you leave?

As a part of your learning, also connect with mom-friends and colleagues for their experiences and advice. If your company has an ERG or other group for moms, then tap into it now to find out how others have managed their leave and transition back to work. Also check out Liftery’s video interviews for parents-to-be.

Identify helpers. Line up help for your maternity leave and beyond. If finances allow, consider hiring a night nurse a few times per week so you can get some sleep. Discuss roles and responsibilities with your partner. Ask family for help. Start researching childcare options for your return to work.


Bond and heal. Prioritize your baby’s needs, your own healing and wellbeing, and getting the rest you need.

Let go of things you can’t control. You can’t do anything about organizational restructuring or changes in direction that take place during your leave. So worrying about them doesn’t serve a purpose, and can even prolong your healing. Instead, immerse yourself in your baby bubble.

Be present. Set clear boundaries between work and personal life. Resist the temptation to check work emails or take on tasks unless it’s an emergency or part of a planned return-to-work transition.

Set up a couple check-ins with your manager. Many new moms feel most prepared to go back to work if they’ve had time to process some of the changes that have taken place during their leave. To that end, you may choose to set up a check-in or two with your manager as your return date draws near.

Negotiate if necessary. If you find you need a longer leave than you’ve originally planned, then be prepared to tell your manager exactly what you want. The script can go something like this:

I am looking forward to coming back to tackle X and Y. Based on personal and family needs, I will be ready to come back on [DATE], working [# of] hours a week until [DATE 2]. Then I’ll transition back to full time hours. I’m happy to schedule regular check-ins with you as I ramp up after time away. Again, can’t wait to be back!


Think gradual. Start mid-week and with limited hours if possible. Think of it as a ramp-up where you start by listening,  learning, and catching up, and then add deliverables and decision-making.

Set boundaries. Block out time on your calendar for dinner, baby’s bedtime, and whatever else is important to you. If you can, also block out an hour first thing in the morning, so you have extra time to clear your head if needed… or even to take a nap after a wakeful night. Although it may seem that reducing your work time would diminish productivity, doing so can actually make you work smarter.

Lower your expectations. A messier house and unfolded laundry are okay. This is not the time for perfection — it’s the time to give yourself grace. And if you’re one of those people who can’t tolerate dishes and baby bottles in the sink, then ask your partner or other family members for help, or if your situation allows, consider outsourcing where you need it most. Babysitting, dinner prep, house cleaning, laundry, and grocery shopping are all things that others can handle. In particular, having meals pre-arranged during your first week back goes a long way in allowing you to focus as much energy as possible on navigating your return to work.

Be intentional about how you spend your time. Skip meetings where you’re not adding value, and where possible, decline extra tasks that aren’t aligned with your team’s goals. This will let you dedicate the majority of your available time and energy to the most impactful work.

Let things ebb and flow. Your priorities will shift continually between your career and your family as needs change. There will be weeks you lean into work and weeks you lean into home. Likewise, there’s a time to coast in your career, and there’s a time to climb. Careers are not straight lines. Listen to and honor your gut instincts.

Find a support system. You may find a helpful confidante in a work colleague, an Employee Resource Group for women, a trusted friend, your partner or extended family. Liftery also offers free peer-support Circles for moms, providing safe spaces for sharing wins, struggles, and advice.

Again, sincere congratulations. You’ve got this.


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