“I’m Sorry To All The Mothers I Worked With”, Says Company President

“I’m Sorry To All The Mothers I Worked With", Says Company President

Many women find the transition from independent woman to mother challenging.

Not only does the leap change your priorities and how you see yourself, it also changes how others see you.

Suddenly, you’re a mother, and that’s the first people think of when you walk into a room.

It can be annoying enough in social situations, but is particularly frustrating in the workplace.

Many people make assumptions about mothers in the workplace: women with children are often seen as less ‘committed’ and less driven.

“I’m Sorry To All The Mothers I Worked With”, Says Company President

It’s important to note the same assumptions are not made about dads. There is no level playing field; the sexism here is clear. Women are judged on their ability to balance workload and family life in a way dads are not.

Walk into a room of mothers and ask them what impact motherhood has had on their careers, and they will give you numerous examples. And, it’s important to note, the results are not usually of their own choosing.

Many mothers have found themselves demoted, or their responsibilities have been reduced, upon their return to work. Some have been skipped over for promotion.

Katharine Zaleski, co-founder and President of PowerToFly, a recruiting platform that connects companies to women in tech, wrote an article entitled I’m Sorry To All The Mothers I Worked With.

In it, Zaleski gives examples of her previous ‘crimes against mothers’ in the workplace. As a young, hard-working and successful employee, Zaleski saw the mothers she worked alongside as less committed to their work.

She gives one example of the time she dismissed the idea of working with a woman, simply because the woman’s office was filled with photographs of her children. Zalenski saw her as a mother rather than as a serious businesswoman.

For some mothers, this tale will sound all too familiar. Sometimes mothers are seen as just that  – mothers, with little else to offer. Perhaps you made the same assumptions about mothers before you became one yourself. Can you think of examples where you skipped over women, simply because they had children?

Zalenski writes: “For mothers in the workplace, it’s death by a thousand cuts—and sometimes it’s other women holding the knives. I didn’t realize this—or how horrible I’d been—until five years later, when I gave birth to a daughter of my own”.

Rather than continue to be part of the problem, Zalenski decided to help create a solution, and to help mothers succeed in their careers. With Milena Berry, Zalenski founded a company called PowerToFly.

The idea was to match women with technical positions in which they could work from home, allowing them to create a work-life balance that benefited them and their families. It’s not only parents who long for shorter working days and the option to work from home; millennials want these things, too.

For many mothers, PowerToFly represents the best option for a work-life balance. They are able to continue in a field they love, and do work they enjoy, without having to forgo time spent with their families.

They can have it all. They can do school drops off and pick ups, and skip the drive to the city in between. If they choose, they can work from the comfort of the dining table. They can rack up the hours necessary to do a good job without having to waste time commuting or dealing with office life.

Power2Fly currently helps women find jobs in the technical, design and marketing industries. Launched in 2014, the company is going from strength to strength and helping women find the right balance for their families.

Many mothers look for ways to improve their work-life balance when they return to work after maternity leave. Some women choose to reduce their working hours, and others try to compress their hours into a shorter working week, with longer days.

Some are offered the options of home-working, or floating hours, which allow them to be more flexible around their family commitments. Some women change careers after maternity leave, and find a position that offers better hours or a more flexible work environment.

Did you make changes to your work-life balance when you returned to work after maternity leave? If so, how have your colleagues responded to your new set up?

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Fiona Peacock is a writer, researcher and lover of all things to do with pregnancy, birth and motherhood (apart from the lack of sleep). She is a home birth advocate, passionate about gentle parenting and is also really tired.

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