Is the decision to start a family the “fork in the road”?

“She chose to have a baby, she needs to just accept that she can’t perform the way she used to” (…said by a female Line Manager of her recently returned employee)

“Having a baby was her choice – she mustn’t expect special treatment now that she’s back at work” (…said by a male Line Manager of his recently returned employee)

“I suppose it was my choice to start a family; I need to deal with the fact that I can’t compete with my male colleagues” (spoken by a female lawyer on her return from Maternity Leave)

“They should never have chosen to have children, if the intention was for her to go back to work.” (…this said by a baby boomer friend who has a daughter who is now a working mother –I was so gob smacked I was speechless, for once!)

I get seriously irritated when I hear these kind of comments, which I hear often in my work. What they are saying, is that when you choose to have a baby, you have also chosen between family and career. In other words, “I need to resign myself to the fact that I can’t stay on track of my career and be a good employee and a good mom.” This is precisely the kind of thinking that fuels self-doubt, and stops us having the kind of crucial conversations that are necessary to change the way organisations think about working mothers.

We are looking to merge the paths. Each woman’s journey is unique, and she needs to find the best way to do this that is right for her, for her family and for her career. If we can help more women get this right, organisations will reap the commercial benefits, and more families will benefit from the significant legacy value that working moms bring to their children and their household.

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