Sometime in the next few weeks, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki will give birth to her fifth child, at which point she will go on paid maternity leave. Wojcicki will be able to spend 18 weeks with her new child thanks to Google’s maternity leave policy, but as Wojcicki explains, many mothers don’t receive that privilege. She published an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal that urges the US government to guarantee paid maternity leave to all new mothers.
Wojcicki cites a study from the UN’s International Labor Organization, which shows the United States as the only developed nation not to offer federally-mandated paid maternity leave. 183 of the 185 nations in the survey provide that service for new mothers; the only other one that doesn’t comply is Papua New Guinea.
In her article, Wojcicki piles on the stats in order to discuss how harmful, unproductive, and damaging insufficient maternity leave can be. She explains how mothers who rush back to work are at higher risk for postpartum depression and leave their children more vulnerable to illness as well. She cites a study from 2011 that revealed how 91% of surveyed Californian businesses saw no ill financial effects after the state began instituting paid maternity leave.
Wojcicki also spoke from her own experience at Google. “When we increased paid maternity leave to 18 from 12 weeks in 2007, the rate at which new moms left Google fell by 50%,” she writes. “(We also increased paternity leave to 12 weeks from seven, as we know that also has a positive effect on families and our business.)”
In her conclusion, Wojcicki states her case plainly. “Support for motherhood shouldn’t be a matter of luck; it should be a matter of course,” she states. “Paid maternity leave is good for mothers, families and business. America should have the good sense to join nearly every other country in providing it.”
In the months since she took over as YouTube CEO, Wojcicki’s impact has not been limited to the video platform. Before publishing her op-ed piece, Wojcicki also discussed the topic of maternity leave alongside Maria Shriver on Today. From her powerful position, Wojcicki is making sure her voice gets heard.