Yet another survey proclaims a childless female colleague is a working mom’s worst enemy. This one took place in Australia, but the results are pretty familiar and seem to be on par with studies we’ve seen before. The gist – women don’t have each other’s backs.
I imagine an awful, insecure little man somewhere – sitting behind a curtain sort of like the “Great and Powerful OZ” churning these stories into cyberspace. Indulge my somewhat sexist, feminist fantasy for a minute, okay? What better way to stop all of the advancements in the workplace that professional women could make, than by using the tried and true “divide and conquer” strategy?
The United States Department of Labor reports that in 2010 women comprised 47 percent of the total U.S. labor force. Women are projected to account for 51 percent of the increase in total labor force growth between 2008 and 2018. That’s huge! We’ve arrived, right? Not really. The median weekly earnings of women who were full-time wage and salary workers were $669, or 81 percent of men’s $824.
These statistics mean we still have a lot of work to do, and we need to ban together to do it. How do we do it? First, we stop giving any power to these stupid surveys. All they do is fuel debates about how “unfair” it is for women with children to require special treatment, how “bitter” women without children are, and (insert stereotypical talking point here). I have a few strategies about how we can make real change happen. Ready?
First, let’s realize that balancing child rearing and work is a “woman’s” issue, not a “mother’s” issue. Women with children are no longer tethered to their homes. That is an accomplishment for all women, not just mothers. Even if you have no intention of ever being a mother, you can certainly conceptually understand that balancing motherhood and a career is a huge undertaking, right? Why not be supportive of that? For the sisterhood?
The following may be a bad example but I’m going to use it anyway. I’m not a smoker, but I understand that some of my colleagues have an addiction. Several times a day, they get time away from work to indulge in it. I’ve never measured how much time they take, but it would definitely amount to a few extra hours a month if it was timed. Instead of thinking all of that extra time they are getting is “unfair,” I’m just glad that I don’t have an addiction that costs a ton of money and makes me stink. Why can’t we view the mom that needs to take an extra sick day in the same way? Instead of thinking it’s unfair, why not just be glad that you don’t have to spend the day covered in someone else’s vomit like she does, and realize that she is still an asset to your company?
Similarly, working mothers need to have a lot more respect for women who don’t feel the biological necessity to multiply. Breaking the stereotype that a woman is nothing without her uterus is – yes, I’m going to say it – the biggest accomplishment and milestone that we have achieved. Let’s stop viewing the woman that has no kids – or the one who has kids and has the resources to prioritize more time to working her ass off to get to the top – the reverence she deserves. She’s breaking the glass ceiling for all of us. You never see driven professional men torn apart like their female counterparts.
I guess the bottom line is this: the next time you have the urge to play into one of these tired, old arguments – remember we are all working our asses off to change the way things are. I think that change would come a lot quicker if we were doing it together.