Julie Bishop says women can’t have it all. She’s wrong

Deputy opposition leader Julie Bishop made me angry when she announced "women can't have it all".

Julie told news.com.au that women "can have plenty of choices, but at the end of the day, they choose something which means they can't have something else."

She says her career choices meant there wasn't time for motherhood, but she doesn't regret it.  

"I feel incredibly lucky that I've had the kind of career that is so consuming that I don't feel I have a void in my life."

Julie, I think you're letting Team Female down. Women do have a chance to have it all. It's called flexible hours, which is why I applaud Julia Gillard's proposed amendments to the Fair Work Act – giving mothers the right to ask bosses for part-time work after maternity leave.

I went to a school mums’ morning tea recently to farewell one of the fold who's returning to full-time employment after four and a half years at home.

She’s approaching her life change with excitement and trepidation. Leaving her six-year-old and three-year-old is a big step. Especially when her new boss reckons the kids ”better get used to not seeing much of mummy”. Nice. 


She requested a part-time role, or to work from home one day a week. But she was given a resounding no. Her line in the sand was to be late to the office twice a week, so she can drop the kids at school. Her boss has grudgingly agreed. She’s hired a nanny to do the rest. While the challenge of the role was a major drawcard in accepting the job, so was the chance to chip away at her mortgage and afford holidays again. 

Some of the mums were envious of her escaping to the workplace, earning money. Others despaired about ever working again – all too hard.

It’s made me wonder what my workplace utopia would look like. And I’ve decided it would be filled with understanding, supportive mums. Hours would be flexible: early starts with school-pick-up finishes; job shares; school-hours roles; no dirty looks when you leave at 5pm or 5.30. I reckon it would go gangbusters.

Working mums work hard. They get the job done – right – and get out. No mucking about, no time for faffing. They’ve got places to go, kids to pick up, dinners to cook. And if they can do the job part-time, I say give ‘em a chance.

OK, I'll admit, I don’t think the two-full-time-working-parents scenario works perfectly. It means outsourcing vast swathes of your parenting to nannies, daycare centres and OOSH. And parents (and kids) need more than that. Our kids should be able to leave school – at least some days – with their mum or dad, kick about in their own backyard, do their homework before dark, have playdates. Not be constantly rushed from pillar to post by overstressed adults weighed down by too many responsibilities and expectations. 

That's where part-time work comes in, whether it's the husband or wife who embraces it. And the Gillard government's initiative is a step in the right direction. 

I want to work. I want to be a mum. I want to do both well (and still have time for me). It should be possible.


Don't tell me I'm dreaming, Julie. 


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