Expect More (Guest Blog by Heather)

Why celebrate International Women’s Day? To me it’s about lifting the bar. Increasing the yardstick. Raising expectations.

Because right now the bar is too low.

How do I know? Because as a mum I have experienced direct and indirect discrimination in ways I could never have imagined before having kids.

I never expected that after taking a voluntary redundancy while on mat leave that I would struggle to find part time jobs in my field to apply for.

I never expected that to be told that I was too overqualified for the part time jobs I applied for. But there were no other part time options out there for me.

I never expected that I would need to choose between working full time and caring full time for my child.

I never expected that I would feel so isolated and lonely at home and get so desperate for a job that I would apply for nightfill in supermarkets… and still not get them.

I actually expected that sharing with potential employers that I was pregnant with number 2 wouldn’t help me get a job, so I didn’t, in fear of discrimination.

I never expected to start in a shitty job well below my previous career level and then be fired for having a child who was so ill that he was hospitalized with croup. “It’s not your performance or attitude – you’re great – but we can’t continue to employ someone who has a sick child.” Right.

After that, I accepted that discrimination was alive and well.

I had heard that 30-40% of pregnant women and new mums had experienced discrimination in the workplace.
I had not expected that the reality in my Mum’s group was closer to 50% of us who have been dismissed and/or discriminated against directly as a result of being pregnant/having caring responsibilities.

After all that, I became more determined, driven and focused than I ever have been to get my career back.

I never expected to sign up to start my own small business when my youngest was only 3 weeks old. It was successful for a time but I missed my career.

I never expected that I would accept a job in my field that paid 40% less (FTE) than my previous career level because it was the best part time job I could get. And then get overlooked for development and promotion opportunities because I was part time.

I never expected that after all of that, I would eventually land my dream job. And yet here I am, having commenced yesterday in an organisation who has been awarded with ‘Employer of choice for Women’. And it’s part time. I could cry! (Oh wait, I did!)

I could not be more determined to change the expectations for women in the future.

Happy International Women’s Day everyone. X

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Expect More (Guest Blog by Heather)

8 thoughts on “Expect More (Guest Blog by Heather)

  • March 11, 2016 at 2:29 am
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    I completely agree Heather, we have certainly come a long way from having to resign as soon as a pregnancy is announced however when I hear stories like yours all to often I wonder just how far we have come really. I know there are fantastic organisations that understand the benefits of diversity and flexibility for employees and hopefully these organisations are spreading the word slowly. From experience, having flexibility and support from my employer ensures I give them my best work and commitment.

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    • March 11, 2016 at 5:36 am
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      Thanks for your comment Ann-Marie. I’ve let Heather know too.

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  • March 11, 2016 at 9:18 am
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    Fantastic blog Heather. Sadly ive had much the same experience and finding it inspiring to hear about your tenacity. I’m so happy that you’ve conquered the odds and landed your dream job. There’s hope for me!

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    • March 11, 2016 at 1:13 pm
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      Thanks for your comment Skye. I hope you find your dream job too (or it finds you!).

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  • March 11, 2016 at 10:40 am
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    Loved Heather 👏 and couldn’t relate more. After being made redundant while in my second maternity leave period it was a mixed feeling decision to stay at home with my boys until they start school. I moved countries, I moved half way around the world following my career and dream jobs. I’m a way over qualified maritime civil engineer that was ALWAYS the only woman in the department but hey, there’s nothing out there part time for me, nor now or ever. It’s an industry that I sadly doubt will ever change. After 2 months of looking and having agents looking for me, nothing came up and I made the decision to put everything on hold because the frustration was becoming overwhelming. I didn’t look for long but I know how it works and there was just a waste of time. My career will always be there but my children’s early years won’t. I chose to postpone everything and sometimes I feel the isolation, not often, but I miss the challenges, miss the buzz…
    I know it will be there very soon but it’s sad that I had to make a choice.

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    • March 11, 2016 at 1:09 pm
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      Thanks for sharing your experience Carin.

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  • March 25, 2016 at 9:39 am
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    Spot on blog Heather. I was really fortunate to be working in Govt & accessing full support to have children & return to work after 10 months mat leave (twice) to reduced hours. Part time was never as satisfying as the full time version & I resigned last year to try my luck at non-Govt. I was so disheartened at the lack of part time clinical roles but eventually landed a contract position 3 days per week. I know I’m one of the lucky ones, as I know far too many mothers being discrimated against because of having children and/or occasionally sick children. Let’s hope things change soon.

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    • March 28, 2016 at 9:26 am
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      Thanks for sharing your story Kirsty and I’m so glad you have found a more satisfying part time job. They are out there! I hope career options for working mums in Australia improves soon too.

      Reply

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