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‘The Motherhood Penalty’

I have spent the last month working with a group of mums who were returning to work and supporting them working on the issues that brings. Through the transition back into work and their role changes, how returning impacts on them and their family,  leaving their little ones, getting that work life balance, mummy guilt and more.

Being with these mums got me thinking about 'The Motherhood Penalty'.

To what extent does motherhood ' or being at ' that stage of life penalise women in the workplace?

A number of mums I spoke to said that they struggled with fitting back into the workplace and often felt more pressure to 'prove' themselves, going above and beyond what they would have done pre-motherhood, but why should they feel this way, they are returning with the same skills and ability they left with.

For many they feel employers may overlook them for having a family or being at 'that stage', plus as it is generally mums who do the school run, trips, sports day, etc they also have to contend with needing time off for 'mummy duties' and how this is perceived by not only employers but also colleagues.

The pay gap between men and women is at it's largest over the age of 36, with men in this age group also receiving larger bonuses than their female counterpart, is there not a 'Fatherhood Penalty'?

So what can be done to change this?

The attitudes and beliefs of both men and women need to be altered, accepting  that both men and women with and without children can bring valued expertise and life experience to a role.

Would longer, better paid leave for Fathers or more equal parental leave help?

With technology progressing at the speed it is and the way we work evolving, could a more flexible approach to the way we work, where we work and when we work, be the answer?

Will improved access to childcare help?

The issues could resolve over the generations.

More family friendly companies could be the way forward.

Either way there is a long way to go, but for the mums who have found a way to hit the balance can they keep it that way or is there another tipping point as their children get older and they evolve?

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