Career and children - do women have to choose?

by 02 Sep 2008

I’m very frustrated listening to statistics about women in the workplace.

The fact that 65 per cent of women from the public service who took maternity leave in 2000-01 have not received promotions in the last six years astounds me. Why does it seem that women are fighting a losing battle when it comes to juggling a family and a career?

Now, I can hear many people (including women) shouting “Shut up about women’s rights, they’re doing just fine” - believe me, we would shut up if it wasn’t a case of two steps forward, one step back. I would shut up if I didn’t constantly hear people saying “Family or career, one or the other: you can’t do both.”

Is this true? Does it have to be one or the other? And if so, do men ever have to make this choice?

Even though the government’s plans to incorporate extra maternity leave entitlements into the National Employment Standards are welcomed, 61.5 per cent of organisations do not provide any paid leave to fathers in their employment.

This shows that still, the overwhelming employer bias is that men belong at work and women caring for their children.

Surely in a society that needs women to work, a society in which women want to work and a society which is enriched by women’s work, organisations can come up with more forward-thinking, accommodating solutions. Are there any HR people out there who have a real solution? Or will it never ever change?

Be honest, I would like to hear your opinion. Is the issue of family and career for women fated to always be an either or?