Which jobs are family-friendly?

Forgot juggling, the career-home balancing act is a tightrope walk over a tank of piranhas for some women. Don’t dare let your boss or colleagues see you wobble. It’s absurd that we are still struggling to see an attitude revolution in the workplace after all these years of feminism.

But things may have shifted just a little: according to the results of the Women24 2009 Female Nation Survey, only 37% of women say that having children affects your career.

There are some types of work where keeping family and work in balance is a little easier. Among those careers were sales, government and farming, with fewer than 20% of women saying they felt limited by having families.

Mom of three Bilqees Davids works in sales and is happy with the balance she has achieved between her work and family lives: ‘Being a working mother is tough and yes, I do miss my kids but secretly I’m happy to not be around them ALL the time. I think I would have been committed into a mental institute or arrested for wrapping them up with duct tape had it been otherwise…’

In contrast, success in careers such as arts & entertainment and the hospitality industry is a harder struggle for women with children, possibly because of the long hours. More than 60% of women in the arts & entertainment industry said their career growth was limited by having children. Other careers which seem to clash with family life are creative or design-related jobs. Rather surprisingly, both human resources and NGOs, where one might expect greater flexibility fall into this category too.

Women who don’t have children were more likely to say that having a family limits career growth. This may be because the real experience gives women with children a different perspective. ‘Once women have children, they realise there are plenty of options open to them and tend to become more flexible and able to multi-task,’ says parenting expert Anne Cawood.

‘Having children is a life-changing personal growth experience which opens doors many new moms would never have envisioned before,’ says Anne. ‘In fact, many women would probably share that having children enhanced their careers.’

How family-friendly is your career choice? Would you say having children has harmed or helped your job growth?

Women24.com’s 2009 Female Nation Survey results have been weighted  to represent 600 000 urban South African women who: have matric as a minimum qualification, are over 21 and are  earning R4500 or more a month.

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