By GRETEL KILLEEN
A recent survey has revealed that companies prefer employees who are not only men but unmarried and childless. i.e. neither single nor married women, and definitely not mothers. Are they insane?
My son is almost 25, my daughter 22, I have raised them as a single mum and worked to support them every day of their lives. Over these years I’ve experienced dismissal, exploitation and deep humiliations. And that’s all just in my role as a mum. But being a mum has also been the most rewarding internship of my life. While the workplace has given me some recognition and financial comfort, brilliant encounters and extraordinary adventures, my role as a mother has taught me to become an arbitrator, negotiator, strategist, educator, delegator, chef, economist, dilettante, leader, entertainer, medic, saint, muse and mind reader. And what workplace on earth couldn’t benefit from all that?
Some months ago the acclaimed Canadian rocket scientist Yvonne Brill passed away at the age of 88. The original opening paragraph of her obituary in the New York Times referred to the fact she ‘made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise three children.’ It then quoted Brill’s son in referring to her as ‘the world’s best mom.’ In response social media was outraged, screaming that to mention maternal pursuits, passions or priorities before her career was nothing short of SEXIST. But isn’t it sexist to consider Brill’s role as a mum to be secondary or inferior to her career?
Like so many women Brill proved capable of achieving in both arenas. In fact the qualities required to be a great woman, whether mother or not, are precisely what make us perfect for the workplace. We are faithful, diligent and inexhaustible, we put others before ourselves, we strive for the betterment of the team, we will not stop until the job is done, and we can do all of these things at the same time.
Oh yes, turns out it’s true, we can multi-task. We can be a fabulous mother, wife, woman, friend and daughter AND an exceptional contributor in the workplace. So maybe it’s time those mono-taskers out there realised that we women and mothers are an asset in every arena. Don’t employ us and under pay us as though you’re doing us a favour, because quite frankly we’re doing you one.
In her colourful career Gretel has been a best selling author, film director, TV host, journalist, voice artist, doco maker, radio host, public speaker, social commentator and stand up comic. Next she is thinking of becoming a neuro surgeon but in the meantime Gretel is writing a play about the lies of love. You can visit Gretel’s website here and follow her on Twitter here.
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