During the 2016 presidential election campaign, Donald Trump promised to institute six weeks of paid leave for all new mothers in the United States. He was the first Republican nominee for president to unveil a comprehensive maternity leave policy — a shift that many have attributed to Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, who reportedly played a significant role in shaping the plan.
Six weeks of paid maternity leave would certainly be a progression from the status quo, as the United States does not currently offer federally mandated leave for new parents. But Trump’s proposal quickly came under fire for several reasons—with a major complaint centering on the plan’s extension of benefits to women and women only. Excluding men from parental leave plans, critics said, encouraged sexist notions that childcare obligations should fall exclusively on women.
“Instead of helping working mothers, as is apparently intended, Trump’s plan would do them harm,” Emily Peck wrote in The Huffington Post. “At home, they’d be burdened with more child care. At work, they’d be discriminated against because employers would likely set them on the ‘mommy track,’ ratcheting back expectations for women who are assumed to be more devoted to the home sphere.” More recently, Anne-Marie Slaughter explicitly called on Trump to expand his plan to include fathers, adoptive parents and same-sex couples as well.
Taking such criticisms into account, the Trump administration may be considering amending its parental leave plan to include men. The Washington Post reports that a “low-level” member of Trump’s transition team met with Aparna Mathur, a resident scholar of economic policy at the American Enterprise Institute research group, to discuss the proposal.
“They didn’t want to just focus on mothers,” Mathur said. “They were thinking about making it gender-neutral.”
A Trump aide also reportedly contacted Carrie Lukas, director of policy for the Independent Women’s Forum, a conservative nonprofit. Though Lukas said they did not discuss expanding the maternity leave proposal, she noted that Trump staffers are “doing their homework.”
“They’re trying to talk to people,” she added, “and not just rush out with something.”
During his first days in the Oval Office, Trump has not exactly demonstrated a proclivity for implementing policies in a careful, deliberate manner. But perhaps, when it comes to the very important issue of parental leave, the new president will get it right.
Read the full story at The Washington Post.