I toned down my language when I talked about the attitude of the LLL upper management toward working mothers. I thought maybe the LAD (Leader Accredidation Department) in my district might be more inflexible than most, when most of the people involved are from the very, ahem, red part of the state. But as my commenters have shown me, this isn't all an Eastern PA thing, this is a widespread bias against mothers with any interests outside of mothering, regardless of their capacity to be good leaders.
The sticking point appears to be the interpretation of one of the ten concepts. (For those who don't know, the ten concepts outline the basics of LLL philosophy. To be considered for leadership you have to be aligned with these concepts). The concept in question: In the early years the baby has an intense need to be with his mother which is as basic as his need for food. This can be interpreted in a number of ways. You can be a zealot and say this means that no mother should leave her child in another person's care for more than an hour or two until they are two or three years old. Or you can interpret this as saying that the need for a child to be with his mother is instense and should be respected. Many of the mothers who come to our meetings have created childcare arrangements that are very respectful of this need and perfectly in line with LLL philosophy as I interpret it.
There has been some headway made, at least in our area. One mother was accepted (after a lengthy "pre-dialogue" period) even though she was finishing her schooling and working part time. I don't remember exactly what her childcare arrangement was, but it was family centered and very creative, definitely showing her commitment to doing things in an LLL way. (Ironically, she still isn't finished her accredidation, and that's the reason we may have to fold the evening meeting, the only meeting available to most working mothers).
I don't fault LLL for having a defined philosophy of parenting. For the most part it's a good thing. Many mothers who come to our meeting are the only ones they know doing things this way, and it gets lonely. It's nice to have a place to go to talk about breastfeeding and the kind of mothering that LLL espouses without worrying who you're offending. But the organization on the whole is shooting themselves in the foot with this bias against working mothers. People come to the meeting, but they don't get involved because they might still have a life (however small) outside of mothering, and they rightly feel judged for that. It's ridiculous.