That thing shall not be mentioned

A wee story on discrimination against wannabe working mothers…something close to my heart in recent years and experience.

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away (Brighton) during a time not too distant (<10 years) I was young and eager to get out there into the working world.

I always considered having a family though never quite knew when it would happen.  Though I did think that even if I did that it wouldn’t effect my career prospects because it would be easy (enough) to create some kind of balance.

Turns out I started this journey at the age of 24…

Ahhh, it all seemed so simple back then.  Reality now is somewhat different.

Ever since being pregnant with No 1 I’ve had a hell of a time to finding a job I felt I could have a happy balance.  It seemed that every door I knocked on saw me and my kids and ran a mile.

As time has passed (both boys are now almost at school age) I realise that the more people I talk to, the more similar situations appear.  Many mothers appear to be immediatley excluded as ‘viable candidates’ by recruiters or mothers have somewhat changed their goals and no longer want what they wanted prior to having kids.

The only options many of us mummies have is to go it alone or opt for unchallenging minimum wage work that doesn’t even cover childcare costs…what’s the point in that?  You may as well take it easier and have the opportunity to see your kids grow up.

Some of us desperately try to hide our maternity gaps in our CVs.  Others are blatantly stubborn and proud and mark out these lovely times in bold.

It’s a really shame that it happens.  (And I could go on…) The disappointing part is that no one seems to talk about it. Many people see blatant discrimination happen, but choose to stay quiet.  I’ve been mostly quiet – till now of course!

Here’s a snippet of one story that someone recently told me use to happen at a well known technology & consultancy company which related to mothers who stuck to their contract, but were unable to stay late due to obvious family reasons:

So these working mothers started to get bounced around from project to project. Some PMs refused to take them. Others would take them then insist they were replaced after a few weeks. Inevitably they gravitated towards the least interesting and rewarding work, regardless of their true ability. Everyone felt guilty about what was happening to them, but everyone went along with it because of the pressure we were under.

4 comments on “That thing shall not be mentioned

  1. -

    I am one of those mums suck in a boring,none challenging job because it fits in with my kids. Me and my husband share the childcare between us so he has settled for a job that pays but is not very exciting either. we both have faced discrimination becuase we might not be as committed to a job due to our children. Its makes me feel sick when i get confronted about my commitment to my company. Once again when I go back to work in September i will get the same old speech ‘you can’t come back demanding your hours after you’ve been off for 9months just because you’ve got kids.


  2. -

    Hello, I like you blog (linked here through british mummy bloggers)
    I took the alternate path, took my 12 weeks leave (with both kids) and went right back to work. I wish sometimes I could have had a longer leave, but do feel that of the choices I had, this was right for us (hope I still feel this way when my kids are in reform school due to parental neglect!). I have great daycare for my kids, my company have treated me really well, providing space to pump milk at the office, and I’ve been promoted twice in the 3.5 years since I had my kids, even once while on maternity leave. My boss is a man, but one with a full time working professional wife, and two kids too, so he fully understands and supports me. I hope the workplace in 20 years is better suited to family life, but for now, I’m lucky in finding a place where family and career can work.

  3. -

    Amy, it’s true. i have two degrees and I am a fully qualified teacher, but I have had to go and become a childminder which earns 1/4 of my salary, because it’s the only job i can do to earn money and take care of my kids. If I return to teaching full-time, not only will my workload take every spare minute, my salary might just cover my childcare costs. Under tne new government, I would acutally make a loss. so what’s the point? AS WELL as suffering discrimination at the work place… It will take me at least 5 years before I can be on my pre-children salary with minimal childcare costs.

    geekmummy… you are very lucky, but as you said, you wish you could have had longer leave and it should be your right. some women are still bleeding at 12weeks post birth, and if you’re a c-section, this would be V.difficult. i went back at 6 months after a c-section and i would get stomach and back pain from standing at school.

    if women are expected to work outside the home AS WELL AS inside the home, then the working conditions and attitudes need to be improved. blogs and discussion forums definitely help and unite us who are experiencing these issues!!

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