Young mother wants to serve on your club’s board

By Rotary staff

A meeting of the Rotary Club of Decatur, Alabama, in 2018.

During a discussion of candidates for an upcoming club election, a member objects to one candidate on the grounds that she’s a mother of young children and wouldn’t have the time to commit to Rotary. What would you do?

Every month, Rotary magazine showcases answers to an ethical question that members might face in their Rotary or Rotaract clubs. Share your suggestions below to be included in a future issue.

21 thoughts on “Young mother wants to serve on your club’s board

  1. I was this mother! My husband was a Rotary Club President (of 150-member all male club) the year after I was the Junior League President (of a 300-member all women’s Club!) When we took our pre-teen daughters to the Chicago Centennial Conference, they saw and learned about Rotary Youth Exchange students, but our District didn’t participate -“no one was interested in leading the program!” Fast forward 10 years, I was then a past Rotary Club President, Chair of District RYE, Chair of Multi-District programs to Western Europe, and served multiple international roles with RYE. And our daughters had participated in LongTerm to Italy, Short term to England and college program to Germany! Today, our son-in-law is also a Rotarian!


  2. I believe that we should give opportunities and support to every member who is willing to take responsibility. They are the counterweight to those who call themselves Rotarians, but who always find reasons to delay or weaken their commitment.
    However well-intentioned the objection of motherhood may be, it demonstrates a hopeless disconnection with the present time and inappropriate paternalism. Anyone who makes such reservations should take a look at themselves. The young mother is certainly mature enough to make the necessary considerations herself.


  3. If you think about the person’s comment as coming from a place of positive purpose, a good question might be: How, then, can our club support the young mother so she can be the best President she can? Answers could include someone doing some of the organising of the meetings, a member attending other connected external rotary meetings on her behalf….etc etc.


  4. This would be the most ridiculous statement ever. Moms whether young or old are the best at miultitasking; Better than any man ever born on the face of this earth. I do a hundred tasks together every day of my life and so can definitely vouch that this young lady would be the best choice as President, the club could ever get. Definitely against the Four Way Test, if she’s not permitted to become the President


  5. Respetando todas las opiniones. Apoyaría incondicionalmente la iniciativa de esa Joven madre. que pone todo su esfuerzo y su tiempo al servicio de la comunidad, e incentivaría la máxima cooperación en el cuidado de los niños durante las reuniones por parte de los amigos rotarios del club, y propondría el mayor aporte de todos para hacer placentera su participación y experiencia rotaria, tanto en las reuniones como en las actividades de servicio.


  6. I have attended a club meeting where the (Lady) President had a place on her table for the baby carrier. Any “baby” duties were shared among the other member both male and female. This club nearly doubled its numbers during her year.
    Does the objector assume that the male members don’t put in the hard yard at their work? Most young Mums both work and look after a family – they are the ultimate time “jugglers” and would probably put some male Presidents to shame with their work ethic and commitment to Rotary. Take the objector aside and put him straight.


  7. I would speak out loudly & clearly that this incredibly dedicated young mother who was willing to serve as President should be unanimously voted into office. She’s the only person who could decide whether she was capable of serving in that role while also being a young mother. I’d ask the objecting “Rotarian” if he/she objected to a member serving as President while they also held down a full time job as well because motherhood, as those of us who have been there, know full well. I would also ask if that means that a young father with a full time job wouldn’t qualify. Inclusion & equity could be lacking in this particular Rotarian’s virtues so some education would be helpful. The Four Way Test always wins.


  8. Would this same concern ever have been expressed if the interested person had been a young father? If not, then it has no business being considered!


  9. Our club chartered in 2016 and our first president was a young mum who ran our club meetings with a baby on her back in a carrier. She now has two kids and they participate in our projects and club activities where relevant and are growing up with Rotary. Many club members involve their children and even grandchildren in our community projects.

    Truth be known – young mums are probably better at managing their time, juggling multiple activities, and getting things done. This is the 21st century and Rotary needs to recognise the fact so we can remain current and relevant in a rapidly changing society.


  10. Assuming I knew lady in questilon to have been an active member who would otherwise be qualified to serve on the board, I would encourage the club’s nominating committee and membership to give her equal consideration along with any other Rotarians who have expressed a desire to serve. I would politely express my opinion that her being a young mother should not be a disqualifying factor.


  11. The objection of that (fictitious, I hope?) “Rotarian” is abhorrently wrong on so many levels:
    – The “Rotarian” puts in doubt his:her fellow Rotarian’s ability to determine for herself if and how she can arrange her various obligations to leave enough time and energy for a Rotary club office.
    – The “Rotarian” assumes, in a gross and irrational misjudgement, that just because a person has childcare obligations, that person cannot also handle a Rotarian responsibility.
    – The “Rotarian” practices blatant sexism by suggesting that a person be denied an elected office because she is female and has children.
    – The “Rotarian” does not ask apply the same test to the male candidates – at least there is no mention of it – if they are able to handle their responsibilities as fathers while holding a Rotary office.

    What would I do?
    I would first ask the fellow “Rotarian” who made this point if he:she really means what she:he has just said.
    If the “Rotarian” confirms that,
    I would immediately move to start expulsion procedures against that “Rotarian” on the grounds of blatant un-Rotarian behavior, violating Rotarian values and regulations, needlessly attacking and insulting a fellow Rotarian.


  12. What is our motto? Service Above Self. If she wants to serve, then she should be allowed to be a member. Gone are the days when Rotary was a businessman’s club of pale, Yale, Males. Women have been allowed in Rotary since 1989’s Council of Legislation declaration. We now welcome Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion – DEI. We have Interact and Rotaract for younger members. We need to be accommodating to families to increase our membership. Rotary is changing and this young woman should be allowed to join the club.


  13. Ensure she’s elected and amend any club “rules” or meetings to make it as easy as possible to attend. I Attended a lovely meeting in Canada ( whilst on a Friendship Exchange) where the (male) President had his young daughter (around 12 months) with him. No problem at all – we need to be inclusive.


  14. What am I going to do? ..

    Being a mother of young children, is she active as a club member?

    Has she been found wanting in terms of her commitment in the club?

    Does she have objections serving on the board considering her current status?

    Yes, all positions are very crucial, but some are more crucial and demanding, are there competent deputies in the event of unavoidable absence at some points?

    The answers to these questions will help guide an objective decision making…

    For me, as valid as her taking care of young children may be, it’s not an absolute disqualifier. It’s more about the person and available supporting/cushioning system.

    There are people who are not pregnant nor taking care of children and still not committed…..


    • I agree with these comments. Others have jumped to quick conclusions and been too judgemental of the member who shared negative thoughts, without knowing where they were coming from with comments. Lots more questions to ask and eliminate some assumptions before lashing out to a member, who may have been expresing genuine concern for benefit of the mother. I too, have been to clubs with young ones in the room which is very acceptable. Once I spoke at a club with three babies lined up at the side. They all were very attentive and well behaved. Future Rotarians in a family friendly environment.


      • PDG Doug makes an excellent point. There are indeed questions to be answered and a member who expresses reservations should not categorically thrown under the proverbial bus. While being a young mother should not disqualify a person from serving on the board, it also should not be an automatic qualifier for the position. I hope cancel culture is not finding its way into Rotary.


  15. Total nonsense. Those who object should leave or dismissed.
    I would assume the other male members May have a job which would come before Rotary.


    • I think that dismissing or encouraging a member to leave for the simple fact of expressing his or her opinion would be unwise and certainly have problems passing The Four Way Test. If Rotary expects to be truly diverse, members opinions should be considered even if they are unpopular or not politically correct.


  16. I was this young mother in 1989. Club leaders in the Rotary Club of Paradise, CA, many of which were good friends of my parents, welcomed me into the leadership fold. It was several years before I was Club President, but that was my choice not because of my age or gender – or the fact I had children. Seven years after being Club President I served as District Governor. A great ride!


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