Back to Work
Frustrated when she couldn't find a children's book to explain her return to work to her young kids, a law professor wrote her own
Michelle Travis relished spending time with her two daughters during her maternity leaves, but she also looked forward to returning to her job as a USF law professor. When it was time for Travis to go back to work, she searched for children’s picture books that might help her daughters with the transition.
“I was looking for something that painted working moms in a positive and inspiring light, that would help my kids be curious about the work I did outside the house, and encourage them to be proud of that work,” said Travis, who focuses her teaching and research on employment law, employment discrimination, and work/family balance.
But in a search that she called “both frustrating and illuminating,” Travis discovered that most books painted working mothers in a negative light, focusing on how children could cope without their mother present during the day, as if the mother’s job was a detriment. Travis says she even found a few books where the working mother was a witch, as opposed to having a real-life job.
The experience stayed with her as her daughters grew, and as she witnessed her USF law students balancing school and eventual careers with motherhood. So she decided to write a book of her own to change the narrative.
Changing the conversation
Travis’ picture book, My Mom Has Two Jobs, published in July 2018, depicts how moms care for their children while also making the world a better place through their careers. The book features a range of occupations, such as doctors, engineers, police officers, secretaries, and waitresses, as well as diverse ethnicities.
The book is called, My Mom Has Two Jobs. On each page, children proudly describe how their moms care for them in a special way, while also improving the world through their careers. The book includes moms in many different jobs, including a doctor, teacher, engineer, police officer, secretary, dentist, firefighter, nurse, lawyer, waitress, military sergeant, veterinarian, and pilot. I hope that the book will give moms the chance to talk with their kids about whatever job they do.
“As a lawyer and law professor, I believe that the law is a very powerful tool in advancing women’s equality, but I realized that I need to get to children before our stereotypes about working moms are fully established and start disrupting that,” Travis said.
“From her own experience and research, Travis knows that working moms are more likely to be passed over for promotions or seen as less competent by colleagues at work. Outside the office, they deal with guilt for how they balance work and motherhood, as well as perceived judgment from people who think they should be with their children full time.
Supporting other working moms