I was tagged by a friend who shared an article which states that working mums are formidable in the workplace – it was a great article and one I think highlights the importance of supporting women entering the workforce after having children. I’ve provided a link to it here:
It talks about the barriers and countering bias and is something that I feel society and employers need to take more action to address these issues. Being a woman and mother myself, I have encountered much bias and discrimination based on my gender and role as a mother rather than being recognised for my achievements. Some of the discrimination I’ve encountered include:
- inappropriate questions asked at interviews which would not have been asked if I were a male,
- responses (body language) to questions I’ve asked where I can see a shift in attitude towards me,
- being dismissed when I was pregnant.
This has all happened in the last decade so it is recent experience. I find it appalling that this is an issue that is still contentious. I have found however, some managers I have worked with very understanding – both male and female but discovered that there is less support from females. While I understand employers make recruitment choices based on what is best for their business, a quote from the article above states:
“Not only is it imperative from an economic perspective, in terms of workforce participation, it’s also critical to innovation. Humans are better able to solve problems when we have empathy for them, and the market will benefit from having more products and services designed for women by women.”
It outlines the importance of women in the workforce. I realise that this is a choice that not all women want or choose to make but it is a choice that needs to be supported either way. Men may make the same choice but it doesn’t seem to result in an adverse impact to their career or stigma if they take parental leave – on the contrary, it is often applauded. One reason I feel is the attitude that women should be the main carers due to their nurturing nature is often to blame, but there are many women who don’t seem to have a nurturing bone in their bodies! Women have fought for equality so they can have the right to be in employment, the right to vote, the right to education and the right to be heard. There are many women and mothers who make the choice not to be in gainful employment and that is fine too. They work just as hard looking after the household and may have made sacrifices in other areas of their lives to do so.
This article doesn’t disregard mothers who don’t participate in the workforce but rather highlights the struggle and bias that still continues when mothers re-enter the workforce. Yes, it is their choice but employers who ‘talk the talk’ about flexible work arrangements for working mothers don’t always ‘walk the walk’. I feel there needs to be education and training committed to this issue as it requires a change in attitudes, a shift in thinking so that everyone embraces and supports all working mothers. This also applies to many other issues that require change in an organisation, some do it better than others. I feel the best way for issues to be discussed is constant awareness and when debate is created – the same applies for other issues that we wish to be at the forefront of people’s minds. Talking about issues create awareness, initiates education about the issues and can ignite change. What issue(s) would you like to create awareness? I know I have a few close to my heart….