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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Can women really balance work and family?

Working mothers are not favored by today's work culture
Work-life balance is difficult to achieve
By Eleni Hoplaris

Achieving equality between men and women in the workplace did not mean a uniform approach in the attainment of what is deemed to be career success. And, somewhere in the battle, the ideals that many women had cherished, ideals that involved putting family first, somehow got tainted. 

We somehow forgot that if women wanted it all, they would have to split themselves a thousand different ways. Some women want to pursue a career at the cost of having a family.  Others don’t, and choose to take on the role of full-time mothers. And then there are those who want to have both. The question is: Can that woman, the one who wants a career and a family, find a way to juggle them both successfully? 

The balancing game

According to Anne-Marie Slaughter, if you are like the majority of women out there, there is no way you can have it all at the same time. Not unless current working conditions undergo an overhaul. 

What also has to change are several misconceptions about ‘having it all’, especially amongst women. In trying to keep the feminist flag flying, many women see the need to find a flexible balance as akin to having no ambition. And many people feel that putting in less time at work than men means that women are less deserving of respect in the workplace.

In the battle to bring about reform for working mothers, women often hinder their own gender. This is because to do anything that could be perceived as being less than ambitious (despite there being no evidence to support this notion) is met with stoic resistance.

Mothering for hire

The Daily Mail recently posted an article debating whether outsourcing mothering is the best way to create a healthy society. This question was not intended to pass judgment on women who want to work full-time, nor does it dispute the economic need for women to work. But it certainly has relevance in the fight for work/family balance.

In the battle for women to be treated the same as men in business, they forgot that they also had the right to be different. Success does not need to be measured by the same criteria for both sexes. Equality does not mean that what is good for the goose has to be good for the gander, and if it isn’t, there is no need to negate one at the expense of the other. 

However, the idea has been created that being a career woman means that, if you’re lucky, you get to be a part-time mom, or else not a mom at all, because to get ahead in the corporate world means sacrificing everything in order to break that glass ceiling. 

Technological advances

Technology has altered the way in which we work. It has afforded the opportunity for a lot of people to work remotely or at least to have the flexibility to modify their working schedule to accommodate personal demands. What needs to be understood, though, is that a woman who wants that little bit of flexibility to spend more time with her children is no less ambitious than women who don’t. It’s a way of achieving some kind of balance and what is wrong with that?

About the author: Eleni Hoplaros is fortunate to be a freelance writer, so she doesn’t have to answer to a boss who may not understand the pressures of working mothers. Not all women are so lucky.

* Image license: MorgueFile; royalty and attribution free