My finger has been poised over the post button for a while now but dare I? I’m not sure how my thoughts will be received in a world of “Go Girl! You CAN have it all” because…how can you?.
Our middle daughter and I, on the cusp of her becoming a fully fledged adult, were discussing her career options and, either through cynicism or bare faced honesty, I felt a strong urge to tell her that if she was planning to have children in the next decade, she needn’t give it too much thought as all that she does now will be rendered useless if she decides to stay home with her child for more than a year; god forbid she decides to add any more to her beloved family; that’s the “Out Of Office” reply on for the next 5-10 years.
If, though, you decide to wipe the baby vom off your shoulder and head back into the workplace “early”, post partum as it were, then you would be wise to consider the impact: According to findings by a team of boffins*, the overall levels of biomarkers associated with chronic stress are 40 per cent higher among women who have two children and are working full-time jobs, in comparison to women who have no children and are also working full-time. If you’re sitting through another growth meeting when you know you’re missing the school nativity, it must weigh heavy. Palming fellow commuters to one side in an attempt to get home for bath time has to send your cortisol levels stratospheric. If you want to keep the career you have to pay the price.
If you decide to become a full time “Home Maker” (only the good ole US of A could come up with that little humdinger of a job title), waiting till your children have traversed over into the bad lands (high school) before returning to the workplace then how relevant will that first class degree be, whether from university or the school of life? The modern working world is moving at a dazzlingly high speed and, in the last decade the job market, to me, has become totally unrecognisable.
Men earn, on average, 15% more than women. The gender pay gap though has got less to do with people getting paid less/more for the same job role but more to do with the jobs that are chosen. Many women choose jobs simply that work for them and, despite the fact that women earn more university degrees than men, after having a child, 70% women scale back their career to accommodate their family… leaving them where exactly?
In my efforts to launch myself back into the working world, I thought I would try a few of those online “career checkers” and, taking into account my work experience and qualifications, my short list was … well, short. Curt in fact: receptionist, shop worker, call centre operative, driver (you name it: school bus/delivery/taxi – the world is your lobster), cleaner, and carer came out repeatedly as firm favourites. There is nothing wrong with these jobs. I just want more because I know I have so much more to give. I sound bitter, I’m not. I have already spent 23 years working in the aforementioned jobs; done those, got the T-shirt and I wouldn’t change my T-shirt for the world. Like any good mum; Im not angry, I’m just disappointed. I can do more.
I thought that perhaps my resume could do with a tweak but, hell no, on closer inspection, quite frankly, mums, worldwide, should be head hunted by Fortune 500 companies first thing in the am. We are a bit epic.
* Researchers from the University of Manchester and the University of Essex analysed data from more than 6,000 individuals collated by The UK Household Longitudinal Study. The nationwide study, published in the British Sociological Association journal Sociology, gathers various information from households across the country including the working life of the inhabitants, their hormone levels, blood pressure and experiences with stress – this raw date excludes other factors that
could influence the results, such as age, ethnicity, education, occupation and
income, allowing them to focus solely on working hours and family conditions