Are you a working mother facing the ‘child ceiling’?

If the life of a working mother could take a form or image I think it would be of a contortionist. We leap through hoops, jump over hurdles, dodge imaginary bullets to juggle work and child and, after all that, bend over backwards to accommodate everything and everyone. If this does not demonstrate some sort of iron clad commitment to your work and career then I don’t know what will do to dislodge the ‘child ceiling’ that exists for working mothers.

A survey has uncovered yet another prejudice/barrier that working mothers face. A company called Business Environment conducted the survey and discovered that one in four female managers would not consider employing a woman with a family or who was of child-bearing age. Male managers held the same attitude too. Taking time off to have a baby or to attend to one’s children is seen as unproductive factors. Apparently an inability to work long hours is equated to a lack of commitment to one’s job. Long hours, it seems, is being seen as one of the solutions to the country’s economic woes. Women with children are viewed as the weakest link in the model of productivity.

This is a shockingly short-term view of the female success factors that could be harnessed in the process of  modernisation of an ailing economy. Women who work are tireless advocates of commitment and hard work. We want the best for our children and realise that our incomes are crucial in enabling us to do this. Never intentionally would most working mothers jeopardise their jobs.

However, it is important to challenge views and to point out that working flexibly or having to take emergency leave to tend to a domestic situation is not the equivalent of taking annual leave to sit in the park. It is the perception of others that distorts the reality of flexible working and part-time. If an economic lens is to be used to sit in judgment on working methods then it ought to be one of the ageing population. With more  and more people living longer a growing workforce will be needed to sustain the situation. Striking mothers off the employment radar is an economic and societal disaster in the making.

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