Couple of my married girlfriends have been told during their hiring process of their job interview that as woman they might probably need time for maternity leave or if they have children, they might need time to take care of their emotional needs and others. More to the point, in a very different conversation, the same employer told them that women are more committed and more dedicated to their jobs. Argghh!! What is the discussion point, you might wonder…
Having a family *does* put a huge damper on a woman’s ability to progress in her career and it has a direct impact on everything from salary to responsibilities. Few of my married girlfriends/colleagues, I am afraid, have accepted less salary just to get the opportunity. They didn’t feel like they had to do that, but at that point they just wanted to so be back in the game without feeling that they have completely sacrificed their career. Make sense…!!
There is an underlying assumption that men work to support their families and in contrast, women, especially married women, are often viewed as working for the sake of working or for “extra” money. The idea that a woman is not financially independent and simply working for “extra” money is ludicrous. Looking into history, tribal women who were the primary providers. The way people live their lives hasn’t changed that much, but it is time for “the powers that be” to adapt and start treating people as individuals, rather than representations of their gender. On contrary, a break in career on a woman’s resume for wanting some time away for her kids is accepted without speculation, while for a man this seems difficult to explain on his resume.
Before we can change the mindset of society, we have to change our mindset first as we form the society. Women, in most cases consider themselves secondary income earners. To some degree women, even as entrepreneurs, don’t focus on growing revenue if they have a partner that makes the largest income. Let’s face it we will always be the primary care takers, as long as that is the case. However, we must realize it’s OUR choice and not the man’s fault.
Not all women put salary or climbing the corporate/business ladder as a top priority. For most women it’s ‘family first’ so they are prepared to trade-off the top jobs and salaries for their family (I might do so too). However, in heart, most of us want job flexibility with reduced hours and to get that, we might have to take the status and financial hit! Frankly speaking, women choose to prioritize life outside of work ahead of career frequently whereas men prioritize career ahead of personal life. Do both have trade-offs? Absolutely and sometimes that equates to less pay, career setbacks or missing growing years of their child. Many of my friends were sad when they heard from day-care that their child took their first-step while they were struggling to work their ass off at work. Not worth it, is what your heart tells you until your mind over-powers you reminding you of your mortgage.
It will be great if we remove the invisible “glasses of gender” from our eyes. Equality has to be accepted for both genders to see the changes we keep saying we want in society. The balance of family and work needs to be negotiated with your life partner and your compensation with your employer.