Saturday, November 28, 2009

Best of both worlds

Are kids really a career breaker?

HANDS up all the mothers out there who work.
I bet almost all of my readers work either part-time or full-time, while still fulfilling the role of wife and mother (which is a 24-hour a day unpaid job). And those who don’t work, are probably studying.
So why do so many women believe having children will ruin their career?
A CareerOne survey this week revealed that two-thirds of working women believe pregnancy will negatively impact their career, and is incompatible with climbing the corporate ladder.
The survey also showed that 75 per cent thought raising a family while in a senior level role would be difficult.
There’s no doubt it would be hard to juggle the stress of such a job with the stress of making sure Thomas eats his veges, Sarah does her homework, and little James learn how to use the potty.
But children do not spell the end of a woman’s career. I believe that with some jobs, having children would enhance their skills in multi- tasking, negotiation, as well as time and money management.
Federal MP Bronwyn Bishop has raised a family while pursuing a political career.
She believes working mothers still face a challenge to reach their full career potential.
When she chaired the Balancing Work and Family Inquiry in 2006, she found that once a woman chooses to have a child, their career plateaus.
“In the back of the mind is, ‘well if she’s got children in childcare, she’s got to go and get the kids at 5.30pm, the blokes can stay on’,”
she said.
“If your child’s sick, it’s even more difficult. As soon as you want time off, people resent it.”
I believe this is a gross misconception of working mothers. Many work above and beyond their usual hours to compensate for this attitude among their colleagues and employers.
Others work their required hours, and no more, in order to spend time with their families.
So what’s wrong with that? Why has society put working a extra hour or two as being more important than raising children, our future customers and leaders? And why are men being forced into unpaid overtime, to compensate for the women picking up kids from childcare?
When I had a child, I had no ambitions to climb the ladder in my career, but this was also because I really loved the job I had and didn’t feel an urge to go higher.
But it’s also because my main job became being a mother. My priority changed the instant I gave birth, and it will always remain that way.
I have at least four friends who are very successfully climbing the corporate ladders in their chosen careers, and each have two children under the age of four.
How do they do it?
By simply having a fantastic supportive partner, a network of family and friends, and one other important ingredient: child care.
Ms Bishop is pushing for recommendations put forward by her inquiry that were never taken up.
“One thing that desperately needs to be done is (to abolish) fringe benefits tax on childcare and there needs to be the ability to salary sacrifice or have tax deductibility for your childcare expenses,” she said.
She also wants the same tax relief offered for families using nannies and home based child care services.
“The bottom line is if women are able to participate to their potential... then the increased GDP is more than the cost of tax reform,” she said.
Working women in corporate careers are inspiring in many ways, but they are also role models for their own children.
In this day and age, children should see that both men and women are entitled to a career, and that they are measured on the merit of the work they do, not by external factors such as having children.
The bottom line in this debate is family is far more important in our society than anything else, and the sooner we realise this, the better for all.


Anonymous said...

I posted a comment on a different spot so not sure where it is. I realised the other one had an October date although she mentioned Shannon.
Anyway I think this is gross irresponsibility to be taking a little child such as this to a place of work where you are working with hairsprays, colours, hair trimmings which go all over the client let alone the poor little girl strapped to a belly. Surely you can't be serious to be working with a baby in front of you like that!!!!!
I would never revisit a salon if this was the case. We had one on the Tableland where the hairdresser and his wife had four little kids (a baby a year!!!!) who came to the salon. There was always a baby in tow. This smelly nappy was rotten one day and the smell did not leave the salon the whole time I was there - this is NOT GOOD BUSINESS. I never returned. What is the world coming to??? I for one do not think you are too smart.
Yes, family is more important than anything else - stay home and care properly for the family until such time as you can safely leave the child with a baby sitter. Monica

Anonymous said...

I signed Monica - not anonymous - not sure what the "select profile is all about".

Shannon said...

Thanks for your comments Monica. I would agree that perhaps a hairdressing salon may not be appopriate for a baby, particularly one that uses harsh chemicals. But this could be just a "cutting" salon, or a home-based business. I know a number of hairdressers are doing very well by opening up their homes to clients which allows them to stay at home with the children as well.
The point of my article, however, is not "is it appropriate for my child to come to my workplace?" but why women carry the stigma that having children is a career breaker.
Having children is a bonus to a woman, in my opinion, as she can multi-task under pressure, deal with a host of different emotions (temper tantrums, etc), excellent at time management, financial management and is a top negotiator. Mums with those skills should be praised, not pushed aside.

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