Breastfeeding Moms Seen as Less Competent

Studies discover widespread bias against women who breastfeed
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 23, 2011 1:32 AM CDT
Updated Mar 27, 2011 7:36 AM CDT
Study: Breastfeeding Mothers Seen as Less Competent
"We did not find evidence that gender of the participant influenced perceptions of the breastfeeding mother," researchers write.   (Shutterstock)

Breastfeeding has proven benefits for both mother and child, but breastfeeding women are widely seen as less competent than other females, three separate studies have found. The studies—including one in which participants were asked to give their impressions of women based on voicemail messages, some of which included references to breastfeeding—found that the prejudice was shared by men and women alike, Miller-McCune reports. Study participants viewed breastfeeding mothers as less competent in general, and less competent in math in particular.

One study found that prospective employers gave the lowest ratings to breastfeeding women. Study authors say the percentage of women who breastfeed—described by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as "stagnant and low"—could be raised, and bias reduced, if more women breastfed openly. "More visible breastfeeding mothers should prompt people to wrestle with and debate the issues,” they write. “With time, greater numbers of women who breastfeed translates to less prejudice.” (More mothers stories.)

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