Megan Puzen had fully established herself in the public relations community in Chicago, working at the city’s best small boutique shops and large global marketing companies. Then she had a baby.
For a variety of reasons, Puzen, of Arlington Heights, decided to stay home with her daughter and her son, who quickly followed in 2012.
That was until Puzen came across The Mom Project and discovered a new way to keep her foot in the door professionally.
A Chicago-based start-up, The Mom Project is a digital marketplace that connects women with companies that need educated and experienced people for temporary projects or positions.
Allison Robinson, the CEO and founder of The Mom Project, started the company when she was on her own maternity leave from Procter& Gamble.
“After becoming a new mom, I realized how many sacrifices women have to make while raising a family and managing a full-time career,” Robinson says. “I discovered that over 40 percent of highly qualified women leave the workforce after having children as a result.”
Many would have kept working if they had access to flexible opportunities, she says. “So I saw an opportunity to create a marketplace that connects women with flexible work with companies that are committed to building diverse and inclusive organizations.”
With more than 9,000 professionals in the network and hundreds of companies ranging from Fortune 20 corporations to start-ups, The Mom Project works to connect the most relevant candidates with available opportunities.
They leverage the science of match technology and the desires of the talent to create a best-suited opportunity.
There is no fee for the moms who join the network and companies only pay a fee when the project is over.
“I am passionate about helping to keep women in the workforce by connecting them with opportunities that give them the flexibility they need,” Robinson says.
Stepping out of the workforce can have long-term financial consequences for moms.
A recent study by the Center for American Progress showed that a 26-year-old woman making $50,000 a year before taking three years off to raise her family not only loses the $150,000 in wages, but an additional $200,000 in lost wage growth and $165,000 in lost retirement assets and benefits.
“I love what I do professionally, but I just can’t do it full-time at this point in life,” says Puzen. “So a flexible, part-time position seemed like the perfect balance now that my kids are in school and I have more time.”
A week after submitting her resume with The Mom Project, Puzen was placed with Nutrient for a project focused on health and wellness products.
“Because of the flexibility of my project, I don’t miss anything when it comes to my kids. I drop them off, pick them up and help with homework,” Puzen says. “But I now contribute to my family financially and I’m back in the game.”
“I always think about an article I read a few years ago titled, ‘Why Women Still Can’t Have It All’ and maybe with the help of The Mom Project, they now can,” Puzen says.