Motherhood shouldn’t carry a career penalty

A survey out of Cambridge University suggests that a growing numbers of people are concerned about the impact of working mothers on family life.

Researchers compared results of social attitude polls from the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s and found that in 1998, 51 per cent of women and 45.9 per cent of men believed family life would not suffer if a woman went to work.

This had fallen to 46 per cent of women and 42 per cent of men in 2002, amid “growing sympathy” for the old-fashioned view that a woman’s place was in the home.

It seems that the idea that support for women taking an equal role in the workplace is a myth.  Instead, people’s perceptions are that women’s changing role is having costs for both the women and the family.

While it may be a case of the super mum syndrome wearing office, it is also the case that, until workplaces start to offer true flexibility, women are caught in an endless tug of war between the home and office.  We also read endless reports about how family life, children’s school achievements, not to mention a woman’s leisure time, all suffer.  The result that many women feel that motherhood carries a penalty.

So, what is the solution?  Work and family life can coexist in harmony. I’ve seen it in my own life.  Sure, some compromises do need to be made, and you can’t have it all, all of the time.  But if we are to ensure that mothers realise the same career opportunities that fathers do, we need a seismic shift in attitudes – and that means flexible work options.�


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