Even with equal opportunities and equality laws that allow people to pursue their dreams and goals regardless of gender, many women have found that motherhood can still affect their career prospects. A significant part of this is due to the historical pressure to prioritise family and the home over career. Historically, the social roles and expectations of men and women were different and unequal; a woman’s primary responsibility was to bear and raise children.
Nevertheless, we have made societal progress since then, as was seen with the introduction of paternity leave in 2002. It is possible for both parents to share up to 50 weeks of leave (if they meet the criteria for eligibility). Even so, we still have quite a bit more to accomplish as inequality hasn’t completely disappeared.
Maternal Wall Bias
A maternal wall bias occurs when employers and co-workers view mothers or pregnant women as less capable. Since they are preoccupied with other responsibilities, they might be considered by others as less competent to carry out their work to their full potential. Not many realise, but maternal bias is one of the highest forms of discrimination. As a result of prejudice and stereotypes, women face problems in their careers.
Challenges of returning to work
After pregnancy, many women choose to leave work or to pick up part-time or full-time employment. That being said, it is at this point when balancing work life and motherhood becomes challenging. For some mothers, there is a shift in priorities where previous priorities may no longer fit or have altered. Due to this, some workers choose to work part-time hours to manage both their professional career and household life, while others eventually carry on to full-time employment alongside motherhood.
Statistics show that more than half of UK mothers (56%) have made a change to their employment, such as reducing working hours or taking on fewer demanding tasks, for childcare reasons, compared with 22% of fathers.
Another possible obstacle is having little to no time for themselves. Many parents have to plan their holidays around their child and their school holidays, rather than dedicating time to themselves. It is even more challenging to overcome other’s perceptions and prove that they can achieve their ambitions while also caring for a family. Although we are moving past the traditional model of men being the breadwinners and women being housewives, many women balancing careers and motherhood still battle the social pressures and inequality regarding child-rearing alongside careers.
However, it is essential to note that motherhood does not mean you cannot achieve your goals. Increasing numbers of women are taking on leadership positions in the industry and occupying key positions. There are celebrities like Kelly Clarkson, Nicole Kidman, Beyonce, and Jennifer Lopez, who are all working mothers.
Many everyday women continue to tackle the societal norms that continue to teach you that you can’t balance motherhood with a career.
Read More: The DEN: Sexism women face in wider society
All mothers (working or not) need to take time out for self-care and escape the ‘mommy guilt’. Listed below are a few tips to prevent burning out.
- Let yourself relax. Make time every day to do something you enjoy, even if it’s just for an hour. It could be a relaxing bath or a hobby you enjoy.
- Make sure you don’t let work pressure interfere with your personal life.
- Preparation the night before can alleviate morning hassles, such as preparing outfits or food.
- Take part in family activities.
And lastly, be kind to yourself. Treat yourself and lower your expectations. Take some time to connect with other moms and establish a balance that works for you.
What has been your experience of motherhood, as well as balancing a career? Is it challenging, and do you have any advice to give other mothers?