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