I was asked by a journalist recently to make some comments on women and guilt for a magazine. The article was based on the premise that women always feel guilty when trying to achieve a harmonious work life balance.
Work Life Balance?
I can empathise with this. I had my own feelings of guilt for sure! Guilt when I was home that the burden for finance fell on my husband, and that I wasn’t ‘contributing’, and guilt when I was working that I wasn’t at home with my kids!
In the end I did what many women do (if they have the luxury of choice) and that was to work part time. There is no doubt that it harmed my career. However, I think if I had my time again I’d do the same thing but this time I’d plan for the impact it would have on my career and make adjustments.
Women have children, simple fact. Societies need women to have children. Some countries, notably Scandinavia have allowed for this in both legislation and child care facilities. We have some legalisation which helps, but attitudes are still very mixed towards working mothers.
Don’t Give Up Too Early?
I read of a recent survey that said women were dropping out of the career trajectory often years before they had children. The knowledge that they wanted children was causing them to not apply for promotion or invest in their careers several years before they actually planned to conceive; they were penalising themselves in the career stakes.
If this is true, (and I suspect it may be as I can distinctly remember myself not applying for a job thinking I’d have to leave it when I fell pregnant and it wouldn’t be fair – pre maternity leave etc!) this may well be a significant part of the complicated equation that explains why women are still so under represented at higher levels.
Plan Your Career
My advice to any woman is plan your career. And plan for your motherhood, if that’s your choice. Work out what you want to do very early on in your career. Women’s child bearing years generally coincide with significant career years. It’s not impossible to combine the two but it’s not easy. But like everything in life, if you’ve set yourself some goals, if you know where you want to end, it makes all the decisions along the way that much easier! It’s a lot easier to have rational discussions before those hormones kick in, believe me!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic; please share! And if you’d like to read an interview with a young professional woman who found herself pregnant at just the wrong time, read this.
Photo Credit: Mokra
Posted on August 26th, 2011 by Jane