The Working Mothers’ Report found that 57 percent of mothers said that childless women colleagues were less understanding of the demands facing them in the office, than men were.
One mother, former City lawyer Lisa Thompson admitted that life changed once she had children.
“Having children meant leaving the office on time. However that was not the end of the working day. I was often back on my computer at 7pm working for several more hours. Occasionally I could detect that some women colleagues without children were not impressed with me leaving but I was still putting in the hours even if it was not always in the office.
“I couldn’t blame them because when I was in their position I was very work focussed and could not appreciate the demands working parents would have.”
Do children mean the stalling of your career?
The work-life balance has become a hot topic of late, with the Government and the other political parties promising to help working mothers. However, this report found that almost two thirds of working mothers thought that pushing for flexible working would have a negative effect on their careers – even if they knew their employer could accommodate the changes.
Ben Black, founder of The Family Care Company said that the new research found that it was not only employers but colleagues who failed to understand the pressures of juggling home and family life.
It is clear that working mothers face a big challenge. You would expect support, if not from all employers, then at least from the people they work alongside. We found that often this was not happening and surprisingly it was women without children who were the least sympathetic.
“Many of the women that mothers work alongside will go on to have children, and you would expect them to be more understanding. However there can be a lot of competition and jealousy in the workplace, and some women might see it as an advantage in their career that they do not have children and a demanding home life.”
Those little white lies........
The Working Mothers’ Report – which questioned 1500 women - also found that 52 percent of working Mums found it easier to blame a faulty alarm clock or heavy traffic than admitting that childcare problems had made them late. Almost all of them (94 percent) said that juggling home and office life impacted on their career, and 37 per cent said that they had been asked about family commitments during a job interview – despite this being illegal!
“There were times when our nanny was ill and another when she got bumped from her seat coming back from holiday,” said Lisa Thompson. “If I admitted that childcare was the problem I could not get into work then that would become a justification for people who had concerns about a mother having an important role in the firm.
“I knew that I could do both, but did not want other people thinking that childcare was a problem. Saying there was a problem with trains is certainly more acceptable than a childcare breakdown.”
“It is worrying that a faulty alarm clock or heavy traffic is seen as a more acceptable reason for being late than having problems with childcare,” added Ben Black.
It shows that many mothers are trying their best to hide the everyday problems working parents have.