The U.S. Senate is About to Get a Whole Lot Cuter
U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth from Illinois just made history by becoming the first U.S. Senator in history to give birth while in office.
Senator Duckworth recently had an adorable little girl named Maile Pearl Bowlsbey. But even before Senator Duckworth gave birth she pointed out to other Senators that Senate rules would prevent her from being able to vote since she was prevented her from bringing her newborn onto the Senate floor with her. Senator Duckworth proposed a change in this rule, arguing that small accommodation to allow children on the Senate floor would help her do her job better.
If the rule was not changed, Senator Duckworth would have been forced to choose between missing votes and not adequately representing her constituents or leaving her newborn baby behind. In the Senate, votes are sometimes taken at unpredictable times, sometimes in the middle of the night, which would have made it very difficult for the Senator to arrange for childcare. Further complicating matters is that another Senate rule would have prevented any of her staffers from watching her baby while she voted or went to the Senate floor for other official business.
The Senate rarely changes its rules, but fortunately voted unanimously to allow the children of Senators on the Senate floor until they reach one year of age. Senator Duckworth sees the change in rules as symbolic of the small changes all workplaces can — and should — make to accommodate working parents. Others see Senator Duckworth as a trailblazer since with 23 sitting Senators who are women, and with more women running for office than ever, there are likely to be more babies born to Senators in the future.
One of Senator Duckworth's constituants wrote on Facebook that she was proud to have Senator Duckworth as her representative in Congress. Other moms shared the changes they would like to see their workplaces make to help make life easier for new Moms. Many agreed that paid maternity leave, and more of it, would go a long way towards making their lives as parents easier. Others said smaller changes like designated times and spaces to pump, more flexibility in hours and the ability to work from home, subsidized child care, and the ability to return to work on a gradual schedule would help new moms adjust to returning to work and help them do their jobs better.
For Senator Duckworth, the change in Senate rules came just in time, since she returned to the Senate to cast a vote, babe in arms, when her daughter was just 10 days old.
It doesn't always require an Act of Congress to help working moms. What kinds of changes, big or small, would you like to see in your workplace to make things easier for working moms?