Regardless of the latest flexible work schedule ideas floated by Human Resource managers to show “inclusiveness” of working mothers, they aren’t a fit for mothers or the company that employs them. Inclusiveness is the concept du jour, however, productivity and go along get along is the prime mover.
Companies try to create space for working moms through programs allowing for telecommuting, reduced hours, or both, but often they are more of a feel-good effort than successful programs.
The end result appears to be that the role of a working mom has been devalued on the assumption that mothers care less about their careers than other employees.
The message is they are “no longer players” on the field of corporate competition, and may well be stigmatized for having taken advantage of flex options made available to them by the company.
Middle managers and higher ups are under pressure to produce and are far more inclined to hand assignments to “unburdened” employees rather than a mother juggling family and work responsibilities.
In the process, highly qualified working mothers find themselves passed over for projects they would previously have led, and put in much less fulfilling assignments, with little hope for advancement.
This was brought to light first in a 2007 Cornell University study on “motherhood penalties” that found this trend to be both common and widespread.
Now, a fresh survey of 25,000 Harvard Business School graduates determined that “women, in general, are less satisfied with their careers and their work-and-family combinations.”
What these studies find is that working mothers have a tough job handling multiple responsibilities, and they are penalized for it in the workplace.
I don’t know about that.
As a result of the findings, however, employers may strive to make allowances and give equal opportunity to working mothers.
Some will try as they have in the past, but let’s face it, conditions are rough and they will go with whatever offers the least amount of risk and the best chance to succeed.
The bottom line to all this?
The desire for flexibility remains as deep as the blue sea for working moms, and things are very unlikely to change much for them in the workplace.
It’s just the way it is.
Here’s what I believe.
Mothers are as competent and committed to working and being productive as anyone else.
I also believe in silver linings.
If you want to work but “motherhood penalties” have you stuck in a dead-end job and not spending enough time with your family, start looking at ways to package your motivation and skills and find an alternative. They are out there.
Consider going into business for yourself.
What’s the best case you can make for doing it? Your work-related skills are transferable in many different ways, and, if you are managing a household and a full-time job right now, you are far better equipped than you give yourself credit for.
If the flexibility you desire isn’t happening in your job, why not go out and create it for yourself?
If you were confident enough to pursue the job you are in, that same confidence can have you in business.
I am speaking from experience.
In my business, flexibility is my best friend.
I went into a weekend business, so there was always time during the week to take care of the kids, manage the household, and handle paperwork.
Am I glad I did?
Does the idea of helping financially, having time, and watching your kids grow up excite you too?
Lisa Zakar is a wife and mother of 3. She is the owner of Lisa Rose, a popular Princess Tea Party venue. She has a 17-year track record in the Princess Tea Party business. Lisa had a 10-year history in higher end retail with Nordstrom before launching her business. Lisa Rose is an award winning party venue with Best of Honolulu/children’s parties/Honolulu Magazine, and, Winner of Best Children’s Parties/Island Parent Magazine. Lisa has locations in Honolulu.
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