Of all western industrialized countries, the United States ranks dead last for policies that support working mothers and their families.

Unlike those in practically every other industrialized nation, mothers in the U.S. have no access to federal paid parental leave and no minimum standard for vacation and sick days, and the U.S. has one of the highest gender wage gaps.

Caitlyn Collins, assistant professor of sociology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, is the author of a new book that details how the United States’ exceptionally family-hostile public policies are hurting women and children.

In “Making Motherhood Work: How Women Manage Careers and Caregiving,” Princeton University Press, Collins takes us into the kitchens, living rooms, parks, cafés, office cubicles and conference rooms where working mothers’ daily lives play out in Sweden, Germany, Italy, and the United States.

Drawing on in-depth interviews with women in each country conducted over five years, Collins articulates just how crucial government policies and cultural support are to ensuring “work-family justice,” which she describes as an assurance that “every member of society has the opportunity and power to fully participate in both paid work and family care.”

Collins’ book offers a clear, research-based argument that the U.S. is failing its mothers and families.

Through side-by-side comparisons, she demonstrates that improving the lives of mothers and their families in the U.S. requires changes both in public policies and cultural attitudes.