- Women still have to work harder than men to fit in to the workplace
- Working mothers struggle to balance work and home
- Some women are delaying parenthood to further their careers
When it comes to equality in business, we have come a long way from the days when women were secretaries and personal assistants, and nowadays many women have broken through the glass ceiling.
However, it is a hard won victory for most and comes at a cost for women who constantly juggle their roles as business women, wives and mothers.
According to a survey done amongst working women by Executive Life Coach Jason Bernic, women still have to work extra hard to compete with men in the workplace to achieve equal status and many feel like they have to put on a persona to fit in and succeed – often holding themselves back or making themselves 'smaller'.
Putting on a fake persona
Benric says the results of the survey were extremely interesting and some of the more disturbing findings include the fact that sexual harassment – either subtle and underhanded or brazen and obvious – is still occurring in the workplace.
In fact, some women wear fake wedding rings to try 'protect' themselves from unwanted advances; many women are still earning less than their male counterparts; and female professionals who hold senior positions have been asked when their (male) boss will be arriving, he revealed.
Juggling work and home life
But most telling from the survey is the struggle that women have in balancing their work life with their roles as mothers and nurturers, he says.
According to Bernic, out of all the survey respondents interviewed the challenge of juggling being a working professional and a mother came up as a primary concern.
"For women who have not yet started their families there is a huge worry that taking time off work for maternity leave will result in them losing their hard won footing within the organisation and being seen as obsolete," he says.
One of the women interviewed commented that letting someone else take over her job for several months comes with the worry that they will replace her and she will return to work only to discover she has become irrelevant.
Delaying starting a family
For this reason many working women are delaying having a much wanted baby until they feel more secure in their career status.
However, this compromise brings with it its own set of frustrations.
One of the survey participants commented that one of her biggest regrets was not having a second child because of her career commitments, and "On the flip side – men do not have to put their careers on hold to start a family".
Climbing the ranks at work whilst still trying to juggle the responsibilities of motherhood is a hugely daunting task and many women in the survey agreed that workplaces generally do not grant much leniency to working moms.
Guilt, guilt and more guilt
"The constant guilt experienced is not to be underestimated," admitted one of the surveyed women.
"When I take time away from work to handle my children’s needs I feel guilty, when I take time away from my family for work I feel guilty – it is a constant feeling of being pulled in two different directions," she said.
Another respondent explained that "You have to work as if you’re not a mom, and mother as if you don’t have a job or business."
Bernic says "The fact remains that for most families it is the mother who shoulders the lion’s share of responsibilities and tasks when it comes to the children, from early morning wake ups and prepping the kids for school, through to extracurricular activities, play dates, grocery shopping and more."
He adds that "We dads often drop the kids off at school on our way to work and that is where our involvement in their busy daily schedules ends, whilst moms will pop out the office during their lunch break to sort out their children’s needs, they will arrange to leave a bit early to drive them to after school events – the examples are endless."
Out of sight, out of mind
Unfortunately, and corroborated by the survey, he adds, many workplaces favour employees that are seen in the office.
They do not take into consideration the fact that a working mother may leave the office at 3pm to handle her children’s needs but will then work from home until 9pm or later to catch up on their workload.
"Many employers have a mindset that if they don’t actually physically see an employee working then they are not performing or delivering," he explains.
Workplace competitiveness and a lack of bonding
Another issue that came up in the survey was competitiveness in the workplace between women who sometimes feel threatened by their female co-workers – particularly those that do not have to consider the work/parent juggling act.
Hand in hand with this is the fact that – according to the survey – it can be difficult for female co-workers to bond or develop a connection outside of the office.
"Again, their role as mothers impacts this as most women spend their time outside of the office engaged in family activities and responsibilities – there is no equivalent to the golf course or the local bar for working moms," Bernic says.
Bernic explains that he initiated this survey to help get a better understanding of the issues facing women in business to assist him hone his group coaching circle called Women In Business, which is an immersive group coaching experience for female entrepreneurs, business owners and executives.
Submitted to Parent24 by Bernic's Women In Business
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