By Ellen Jean Hirst and Meredith Rodriguez
Working mom advocates blasted a major Chicago trade show’s weekend decision to throw out a businesswoman who brought along her 10-day-old baby, calling it insensitive to the plight of nursing mothers and an example of the difficulties women face when trying to jump back into the workforce.
But the trade association has defended the decision, saying the rule barring children isn’t anti-mom, but rather simply a safety issue.
Although Kristin Osborne said she knew the show’s rules for this weekend’s National Restaurant Association trade show — no children under 16 — she didn’t think it would apply to her breast-feeding newborn, who while at the show for about an hour was wrapped closely to her chest, sleeping.
And as the head of marketing for her family-owned winery, Osborne, 31, said Sunday that she didn’t believe she could afford to miss one of the year’s biggest promotional events for her winery.
How mothers can “lean in” both at work and at home is a hot topic these days, with no shortage of studies, self-help books and panel-debated opinions on whether modern mothers need abandon professional ambition for family responsibility. But parents’ efforts to reconnect at work as soon as possible can prove challenging to businesses trying to accommodate multitasking mothers, and in some cases could run counter to some experts’ advice on health and safety for children if parents are trying to include the children in their work life.
“I understand that you are not allowed to have kids running around,” Osborne’s husband, Justin, said Monday at the show. He stayed to work the business‘ booth after his wife returned home to Minnesota this weekend. “However, if there is a child who needs nursing … I feel like it is misapplication of the rule.”