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The American Case for Paid Maternity Leave

Jessica Shortall | TEDxSMU

Driven by surprising data and punctuated with the raw stories of real working mothers, Jessica Shortall makes the impassioned case that the reality of new working motherhood in America is both hidden and horrible: millions of women, every year, are forced back to work within just weeks of giving birth. The United States is one of only nine countries with no national, paid maternity leave; the next-largest is Papua New Guniea. Shortall argues that the time has come for the U.S. to recognize the economic, physical, and psychological costs of this approach for working mothers and their babies, and to secure its own economic future by providing paid leave to all working parents.

Jessica Shortall is a social entrepreneur with a career as diverse as her curiosities. She has been a Peace Corps Volunteer, a non-profit co-founder (The Campus Kitchens Project), a consultant to social enterprises, an early TOMS Shoes-er, and an advocate for LGBT rights (Texas Competes). She is the author of Work. Pump. Repeat: The New Mom’s Survival Guide to Breastfeeding and Going Back to Work (Abrams, 2015). She holds a BA from Wake Forest University and an MBA from Oxford University, where she was a Skoll Scholar in Social Entrepreneurship. She is a working mother of two who is currently hanging on for dear life.