Career breaks a double-edged sword

There are a number of positives to taking a career break, but the road isn’t always smooth, business women say.

Career breaks a double-edged sword

A career break is often seen as having a negative impact on a woman’s career. However, a new survey has suggested it can also lead to new horizons.

The study, conducted through the Telstra Business Women’s Awards, encompassed 115 state and territory finalists of the 2013 awards, and found that 89% of women face challenges when returning to work after a career break, whether it is taken for extended travel, study or maternity leave, or a host of other reasons.

However, despite the challenges, a career break can be well worth it. Many respondents (55%) stated that time away allowed a woman to reassess their life and career, with 87% feeling that taking on parental responsibilities could be a catalyst for entrepreneurship. Thirty-six per cent stated that a career break spurred women on to try something different.

The majority of the finalists (82%) also agreed that entrepreneurial culture was strong in Australia, and that women entrepreneurs must have passion, a hard work ethic, creativity, vision and innovation.

However, women must be aware of the possible downsides to a career break before taking the plunge. Four-in-ten women stated it was difficult for them to re-enter the workforce in the same capacity as when they left, with 33% noting the negative impact on wealth creation.

 “A career break can provide the opportunity for a person to discover their passions. It’s our experience that many women have used their career break as an opportunity to assess their purpose, which often becomes the catalyst for them to launch their own entrepreneurial venture, Karen James, general manager of Women in Focus at the Commonwealth Bank, said. “At that time we encourage women to seek out social communities, like Women in Focus, to stay connected and get the support they need to grow and thrive.”

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