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OPINION: Dear LinkedIn, please don't call me a 'stay-at-home-mum'.

In the eyes of the workforce, motherhood is still perceived as a 'gap', something that many women tend to hide so that it doesn’t threaten their credibility or commitment to 'real' work.

How do you explain these gaps in your career? Or better yet, how do you convey that this momentous thing that happened to you is as valuable as any other experience?

Earlier this year, professional networking platform LinkedIn introduced 'Stay-at-Home Mum' and other caregiver titles like 'Homemaker' to help clarify career gaps. 

I hate this. 

Watch: The horoscopes as new mums. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia.

I might sound like a goblin right now but let me explain: it's not the role, but the naming that has always irked me.

Imagine if Jason, my husband, listed his role title as a Stay-at-Home Software Engineer. Wrong, isn’t it? The location of where the job occurs is completely irrelevant to the person’s ability to perform. 

We are living in a pandemic and like most, I’m home most of the time. This unnecessary prefix of 'home' serves to minimise the value of motherhood. 

It maintains the damaging discrepancy between what motherhood is and what our world sees it as.

It’s absurd to me that motherhood isn’t valued for the immense experience it is.

Strategic foresight, critical thinking, workflow management, negotiation, and emotional intelligence. These are considered some of the most valuable skills in a professional context, and they all come with primary caregiving.

Since motherhood is something many have in common, it’s treated as though people should just be able to do it. But motherhood is not like learning to ride a bike. It’s a transformative and difficult experience. 

So, I decided to make a statement by adding 'Mother' as a role to my LinkedIn profile.

Multitasking. Image: Supplied.

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This year, I became a mother. 

I expected it to be life-changing and challenging but didn’t realise how until I experienced it first-hand. 

Becoming a primary caregiver is like diving in the deep end of a new job. There’s so much to learn all at once, while caring for a little person who has just entered the world and is also figuring out their place in it. 

Not only am I learning how to parent, I’m also recovering from birth, with nutrients depleted from pregnancy, all during a hormonal whirlwind, and don’t forget – a global crisis.

Home used to be somewhere I hung out in with Jason and my cat Pudge at the end of a workday. Now, it is where nearly every role in my life takes place, including motherhood.

The pandemic is widely known to have had a disproportionate impact on women because of motherhood. 

The Australian government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) states that more than half a million women worked fewer than their usual hours or no hours at all in 2020, a more significant decrease than in men. The primary reason cited is that women typically shoulder the additional caring responsibilities.

Home is now a place of burnout, because the load women are shouldering is enormous.

Women are leaving the workforce not by choice, but because staying is impossible. On the resumes of pandemic mothers, there will be more career gaps than ever.

But what is happening during this period?

Mothers are raising the next generation. They are responsible for putting big heads on little shoulders. Yet this is not reflected in how a mother feels about those gaps, because a mother’s income typically plateaus at the level she was at prior to her first child. It's no wonder women are fearful of this perception.

Image: Supplied.

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Motherhood is a vital role. It endows its employees with more guaranteed skills than many, and it's time we recognise the value of it in a professional context.

Mothering, especially pandemic mothering, requires a superhuman skill-set. When you think of hiring a mother as an employee or a service provider, undeniable excellence will be the first thing you notice. 

I see a future where motherhood is no longer viewed as a blip that happens between the 'real' work, but instead employers will recognise it as skilled work with immeasurable value. Supporting our mothers is nurturing our future.  

Melissa Pepers is a futurist and business designer based in Australia. In her business Bonbo she creates niche businesses that have never existed before. You can follow her on Instagram.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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