Connect Motherhood

Eliminating The Motherhood Penalty With Allison Robinson

Haley Paskalides  |  March 4, 2024

Allison Robinson, founder of the Mom Project, discusses the motherhood penalty, and why working moms benefit companies.

Let’s just admit it: Being a working mom in America is absolutely exhausting. Today, millions of women in our country are struggling to pay for their children’s care while they maintain their spot in the workforce. At the same time, American women are also fighting against the so-called “Motherhood Penalty,” which means that mothers earn just 58 cents for every dollar paid to fathers. Every day, it seems the deck is stacked against mothers in every way possible. 

Allison Robinson found herself — like many women! — questioning whether or not it was even possible to have both a family and a career. So, she decided to do something about it. She left her job at Procter & Gamble to start “The Mom Project,” which is now the leading digital marketplace for moms offering hiring, education, and retention solutions. 

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“I had a really amazing opportunity to work on the Pampers brand,” Robinson says. “And a big part of my day was seeing how hard moms work, their resilience, and how deeply they wanted to build a better future for their families. This often meant that they were these unsung heroes that didn’t get a lot of praise and that left such an impression on me. I didn’t have a lot of examples of women in my family who both worked and had a career.”

After having her first son (while out on unpaid maternity leave), she decided that she wanted to be able to have more flexibility to be a present force in her child’s life, and the idea for “The Mom Project” was born. Of course, gaining funding for her new venture wasn’t easy.

“It was really hard and it took me quite a while to be able to get the business to a point where finally investors would take us seriously,” Robinson says. “Many really just questioned how big of a market this could be.” (And, she says, she found that the saying that “women have to be further along with their venture than men to get funded” proved, unfortunately, to be true… Perhaps yet another manifestation of the motherhood penalty?!) 

Despite these obstacles, The Mom Project was a huge success, and now works with companies like Airbnb, Etsy, and Meta to connect their community of over 1.5 million moms, dads, and allies with over $800 million in economic opportunities. As well as connecting moms and dads with flexible job opportunities, the Mom Project has also created a platform called Self Made that helps parents find and manage freelance work. 

According to research from Wells Fargo, women are driving the growth of small business creation in the U.S., especially as many companies are mandating a return to office. “Self Made is really aimed at helping her set up and grow her own business, on her own terms,” Robinson says. “We’ve always got an eye towards: What is the need of the market? How do we help our moms combat that motherhood penalty and really reach our economic potential?”

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