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Updated: October 16, 2023 From the Editor

From the Editor: Child care costs are a business problem

In my eight years as WBJ’s editor, I’ve had some amazing reporters work in our newsroom. Since we’ve tended to hire younger people near the start of their careers – with experience at one or two other publications under their belts – I’ve seen a number of these journalists begin to build their lives while working at WBJ.

WBJ editor Brad Kane at his desk
WBJ Editor Brad Kane

Including myself, two women and two men journalists in the WBJ newsroom have either given birth or their wives have given birth during their time here. Among this extremely small sample size, I can say without a doubt the duty of child rearing impacted the women’s careers far more. When my youngest son was born, I took some time off work; but I’m still the WBJ editor. For the other male WBJ journalist, he also took some time off when his son was born, kept his role at WBJ, and eventually took employment at a larger publication, earning a higher salary. For both the female journalists, they left WBJ shortly after their children were born and now they use their talent and expertise in part-time capacities, teaching and picking up freelance writing work.

Of course, everybody makes their own individual decisions that best serve their lives, and I applaud both my former reporters for focusing the majority of their attention on their families. And as a father of five wonderful children, I highly encourage everyone to have kids, despite the challenges. However, the disruption caused by child-rearing on a professional’s career is both an economic and societal problem, one still impacting women far more than men. With the median yearly cost of care now above $20,000 per child in Worcester County – comprising 18% of a family’s income, according to the U.S. Department of Labor – a parent must earn a significant wage just to make working worthwhile. This is untenable, especially as childcare costs continue to rise.

As WBJ publishes its Oct. 16 edition, our annual celebration of female professionals through our Outstanding Women in Business awards, we need to consider the many obstacles still holding women back in the workplace. The decision to have and raise children shouldn’t be one that derails a person’s career for years, or even decades. There are solutions to this issue, and the first step is for all of us to acknowledge it is a growing problem.

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