No, the United States is not the worst place to live if you're a woman. Despite the fact that women still make just 77 cents to every man's dollar, there's still plenty of advantages that American women have that women across the world lack. Government-mandated maternity leave is not one of them. American women are pretty much alone—nearly every other nation, with the exception of Papua New Guinea and Swaziland, have guaranteed paid maternity leave. And many companies in the U.S. aren't picking up the bill, either—half of all first-time mothers receive no paid leave, at all. That's just sad.
To combat, some companies will skimp hire women of child-bearing age in the hopes that they won't have to deal with employees taking extended leave, or, potentially leaving the job entirely. Allegedly, one woman recently overheard a group of executives moan about female employees getting pregnant, saying "We're not hiring any young women because they just get pregnant again and again." Yep, seriously.
It's a problem in countries that guarantee women some sort of paid leave following child birth as well. Kiran Daurka, an employment lawyer at Slater & Gordon in the United Kingdom, says that women who have children are typically just as, if not more, productive than their male colleagues because they're well aware of the time spent at the office.
There are two issues we as a leading nation really need to get progressive on: If companies are going to offer maternity leave, they should offer equal paternity leave. Parenting shouldn't just fall to the mother, the father had an equal part in making the child, right? This ideal would eradicate the outdated notion that hiring young women would be a detriment because they would be taking extended time off to have a baby. And, companies in the United States really should have paid leave as part of a comprehensive benefits package, women shouldn't have to take leave without pay, or short-term disability, like having a child is an ailment.