“A truly equal world would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes.” -Sheryl Sandberg
In an ideal world, 50% leaders would be women. But in reality, women constitute a meager 24% of the senior leadership positions across global businesses, as of 2016 (1). That is less than half of what it should have been in an ideal world. There’s more bad news – the employment-to-population ratio for women was just 47.1%, according to a 2014 report by the ILO (2). It was more than 72% for men.
The numbers don’t look very encouraging. Women seem to lean less towards their career or work outside of the home when compared to men. This is especially the case after they have children. Does that mean a woman’s choice to be a mom will only lead her to a thankless life of managing the house and bringing up the kids?
Why Do Women Quit Working After Children?
Women may quit a job for a better paying one, or for better opportunities. They may even do so to find meaning in life. But starting a family is still one of the top reasons why women leave their careers behind without a thought. What is it about having children that makes women want to quit their jobs, while it encourages men to do better and earn more?
While some may say it is the maternal instinct, others blame the exhaustion that comes with balancing work and family. But for most, it is the expectations that accompany the role. The world expects women to look at motherhood as the most important job they have. Sorry world, but motherhood is not a job, and it should not put a full stop to a woman’s career!
You don’t have to put your highly successful career on the back-burner to be a good mom. You can have it all, albeit with some challenges.
Challenges Of A Working Mom
You don’t have to be superwoman to have a successful career and also be a great parent. That said, maintaining the work-life balance that allows you to excel at work and home can be challenging for both the genders. More so for women, because they are expected to give more at home and work. Many men still don’t believe in contributing to the upbringing of the kids or managing the house. An unsupportive partner is just one of the many challenges that working women have to deal with. Here are the rest of them.
Guilt is an emotion that drives working moms to quit their successful jobs to become stay-at-home mothers. There is nothing wrong in being a stay-at-home mom. But if you choose to be one because you are feeling guilty about not spending enough time with your kids, it is bad. Not being able to meet the expectations set by your family, friends and even the society can make you feel like a terrible mom.
Here’s a tip for you – set your own expectations and be practical. If you can meet your standards, chances are you won’t feel guilty being successful at work. For all you know, you may be a better parent than most stay-at-home moms. So stop feeling guilty and give yourself that mush-deserved pat on the back.
2. Work-Life Balance
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is important for both men and women. But the challenges are bigger for women than they are for men. Women are expected to do more not just at home, but also at work to prove that they are good enough. The pressure to excel at work without compromising the quality of parenting can be exhausting for women because the same rule doesn’t seem to apply to men. Men can work late hours and go home late, but women are expected to be back home early after work and take care of the baby.
However, the trend is changing as men are taking up the responsibility of staying back at home, or coming early to accommodate their wives’ requirements at work.
3. Lack Of Equal Opportunities
Even today, there are few family-friendly workplaces that have a decent maternity policy. Even with a good maternity policy to support her, a woman might lose a chance for a promotion or lead a project just because she got pregnant at the wrong time! What’s worse is some women in developing countries are unfairly terminated when they get pregnant.
If women choose to get back to work a year or so after giving birth, the chances that they’ll be offered a deserving position or compensation package are low.
4. Expectations From Society
When a child is born, the society expects the woman to give up all that she is doing, to care for the child. The world is filled with stories of women who have had to stop their education mid-way, give up their passion or lifestyle and put an end to their career so that they could raise a child.
If you are a mom and are bored of being at home, remember that it is never too late to get back to having a successful career. If you are young and are already planning to cut your career short for the family, postpone that career decision until you become mom.
It is totally up to you to continue working or stay at home to take care of the kids. Just remember that you can do both!