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I’m a breadwinner mom and this is why helping women in the sandwich generation is good for the U.S. economy

The founder and CEO of Pipeline Equity is just one of nearly half (47%) of adults ages 40 to 59 who care for an elderly parent while supporting a child—and there’s no slowing down.

“I have cancer.”

When my mother said those three words, it catapulted me into the “sandwich generation,” a term used to describe middle-aged adults who care for both elderly parents and children. I knew what I was expected to do when I received the news of my mother’s cancer. The narrative says that I, a woman, should take off work to care for an elderly parent. But I’m a CEO and the breadwinner of my family. When I got that call from my mom, my company was in the middle of a capital raise. There was no “taking off” work.

I’m not the only woman caught between the work front and the home front. In the U.S., 71% of families rely on mom’s earnings for their economic well-being, and 40% of families have a breadwinner mom. The belief that women can simply step away from their jobs to take on caregiving responsibilities assumes that most women can afford to take off work in the first place.

And now, as the number of individuals in their forties and fifties who support at least one child and parent over the age of 65 is increasing, the burden for women in the sandwich generation is becoming heavier. A collision of demographic changes, labor force participation, and gender inequity has fueled this situation that has, in effect, brewed a perfect storm for middle-aged women and our economy.

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