Career Vs Family? It’s just a big con!
When I was seven months pregnant with my first child I was working in a government department, writing press releases about public toilets. One day a woman walked in for an interview for one of the corporate communication jobs, and after she left, my boss came out and said “Well, she’s qualified, but she’s been a stay-at-home mum for seven years, so I’m not sure she’s suitable.”
The woman was a former-journalist. She was more than qualified to write press releases about toilets, but what left an imprint in my mind was the thought that if I stepped off the corporate ladder I’d lose any opportunity to advance my career.
Back then, in the 90s (ehem), the only choices women felt they had were to keep working for someone else or leave the corporate world behind, and it seems that in 2014/15 women still believe that this is the case.
A recent article in the New York Times pointed out that the rate of women in the workforce has dropped from a peak of 74 percent in 1990 to 69 percent in 2014. The article revealed that 61 percent of women left the workforce due to family responsibilities or lack of family friendly workplace policies in contrast to 37 percent of men.
Many of those interviewed expressed their desire to return to careers but felt they would be marginalised due to being out of the workforce for an extended period. Even shows like Modern Family perpetuate this myth of the can-t-get-her-shit-together stay-at-home mum vs the career-driven jet-setting professional in heels. It’s ludicrous, and it’s time to expose the con.
Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that traditional media outlets reinforce the work vs family paradigm by giving a megaphone to people like Mark Latham. He would have you believe that every woman with career aspirations has a leftist political agenda and selfishly neglects her kids. The truth is, the Mark Lathams of this world are just pawns in the big con that women have to choose between career and family, so lets not waste any more time on perpetuating that myth. Instead, let’s look at how women are creating a new paradigm.
Here’s the thing: Women can have it all and can do so sustainably, without the mother-guilt, without feeling like they’ve sacrificed a life for work or work for a life. Not only can they have their cake and eat it too but they can take the whole damn cake shop. It doesn’t need to be a choice.
There’s a quiet revolution happening in suburban homes, and it is beginning to create a wave of social change that turns the whole career vs family myth on its head. That revolution is the rise of entrepreneurship. The startup trend is not just catching on for the bearded frat boys hanging out in cool co-working spaces across the country, it is sparking new possibilities and opportunities for women who used to believe that their only choice was to work for someone else or not work at all.