By: Quinn Fish
The historic 2020 election means a new era for women, and working moms especially. In VP-Elect Kamala Harris, we’ll have the first-ever woman Vice President, the first Black Vice President, and the first Vice President of South Asian descent. In Dr. Biden, we’ll have the first-ever full-time working First Lady. Plus, they’re both moms.
President-Elect Joe Biden has naturally taken the spotlight after his victory over President Donald Trump, but we’d like to focus on the real star: Dr. Jill Biden.
Jill is a college English professor with four degrees who plans on continuing her day job teaching when she moves into the White House—a first in the role’s 231-year history. In fact, she worked through her time as Second Lady, too, and was the first to do so in a non-political role. She’s also mom to Ashley Biden, stepmom to Hunter Biden and the late Beau Biden, and grandmother to Beau and Hunter’s kids.
If anything, Jill’s aspirations are truly a sign of the times. In 2019, women made up 47 percent of the US workforce, according to Catalyst research, and though we’re suffering from the devastating effects of the pandemic—with four times as many women as men dropping out in the month of September—we’re glad Jill’s public about not letting her career take the backseat. The same research shows that women earn more university degrees than men and have for some time now, specifically, more bachelor’s degrees since 1982, more master’s degrees since 1987, and more doctorate degrees since 2006.
So it seems like the White House will finally be at least a little more representative of our reality.
What’s even more important about Jill’s decision is that it reframes the conversation about men’s roles in women’s careers. First Lady historian Katherine Jellison, a professor at Ohio University, told USA TODAY that no previous FLOTUS has been “allowed” to have both a work life and a family life.
“She will really be bringing the role of first lady into the 21st century,” Jellison said. “Americans have historically wanted their First Ladies to be in the White House and at the president’s side whenever possible. Maybe the time has come when Americans will be more accepting of the idea that a president’s wife can simultaneously be a First Lady and a working professional.” And it’s about time!
If the future First Family can do it, so can we. Jill never paused her career in order to put President-Elect Joe’s first, even when his was likely to shape the country. Conversely, VP-Elect Kamala’s hubby Douglas Emhoff did sacrifice his career as a lawyer to prioritize hers.
Professor FLOTUS, as Jill has already been nicknamed, will break barriers for working moms across the US if her plan comes to fruition. Her message echoes a sentiment shared by former FLOTUS Michelle Obama, with whom she worked closely: that women deserve the world.
Michelle, who has shed light on work-life balance, leaning in, and quashing working mom guilt, considers Jill a “dear friend” who brings “kindness, empathy and humor to even the most difficult of situations,” she told USA TODAY. “She is going to be a terrific First Lady.”
So, mamas, we have much to celebrate. Who knows? Maybe this means our next POTUS will be a working mom.