Working full-time and mothering part-time: why do so few women do it?

Working full-time and mothering part-time: why do so few women do it?

A parent has promised his son to take him to a train exhibition today, but then the boss calls. There is an emergency at work. What should that conscious parent do then? Going to the office? Or to the museum, as agreed?

The answer to this question, according to research, just depends on whether the parent is a father or a mother, says social psychologist Lianne Aarntzen. “If it’s the father, most people think he should go to work. But if it is the mother, then she should keep her promise and choose her son.”

Have those stereotypes still not changed? “People are now fine with women working and men taking care of, but the mother is still expected to give priority to her family. And the father’s career.”

Women are going to believe in it

This ‘ideal image’ has remained more or less the same over the past thirty years, says Aarntzen. As a result, 40 percent of women who become mothers will work less or stop altogether. On average, mothers with young children (under the age of four) still work 23 hours a week. Men work an average of 38 hours a week, both before and after the birth of their first child.

These stereotypes, and the many women who work part-time, cannot be viewed separately from each other, says Aarntzen. “The more often you hear as a mother that you have to choose your family, the more you start to believe in it.” This can happen through explicit comments from friends and family, as well as more subtle behaviors. “Think of the mother who is always the first to be called by daycare. Or the father who is hardly looked at or addressed at the health clinic.”

Guilt is a straitjacket for the mother

Lianne Aarntzen social psychologist

As a result, women feel guilty if they do choose their work. In her dissertation, Aarntzen concluded that women who feel guilty also want to reduce their working hours. While they would not have wanted or done that without that feeling of guilt. Her research shows that fathers also experience guilt, but are more likely to justify it to themselves. Aarntzen: “Guilt is a straitjacket for the mother.”

Masculine Rules

The culture in the workplace could change this. Not only by making it easier for mothers to combine work and family, according to research by Aarntzen, but especially by changing the policy for fathers; for example by normalizing longer paternity leave or part-time work. “If organizations start to focus more on fathers, you send a strong signal to mothers that they are not solely responsible for the care of children.” Then their guilt diminishes.

Vréneli Stadelmaier, career coach for women, is also convinced that something needs to change in the workplace. But, she believes, it is up to the woman herself to achieve this. “Men don’t have a problem, so they will never act.”

She calls the women that Stadelmaier coaches ‘the Trojan horse’. “Women will have to change the system from within.”

Tell me how good you are

According to Stadelmaier, it is not the children that cause women to work part-time, but “the masculine rules” in the workplace, which women do not always understand. An example of such a rule: tell yourself how good you are. “If you don’t, you get less influence, you achieve less and you are less valued. As a result, women can lose the joy of their job and then quickly say ‘just let me work for three days’.”

What also does not help is that this news is often received with open arms by who?, notes Stadelmaier. “Actually, only then are you a good mother.”

Unfortunately, it is still true that as a woman you are taken less seriously

Vreneli Stadelmaier Career coach for women

Women are modest and men dominant, aren’t those also stereotypes that need to disappear? Not everyone is like that, of course, says Stadelmaier, “but unfortunately it is still true that you are taken less seriously as a woman”. Women should therefore be aware of the stereotypes, think about them and then think about how to deal with them, she believes.

That means: learning to move with ‘the masculine rules of the game’, but under your own conditions. “Emphasize how good you are, but in a way that makes you feel comfortable.” For example, more women and mothers will continue to work full-time, says Stadelmaier. And, she adds: learn to prioritize. “Then the counter is not tidy, or your child’s hair is too long.”

Also read: More women at the top? Only the companies that are obliged to do this can do that

Mirte Biemans (34):
‘My son keeps asking why I work more than other mothers’

Working full-time and mothering part-time: why do so few women do it?

Who: Myrtle Biemans (34)
Work: manager at a housing corporation and candidate party leader PvdA in Utrecht
Family: son (6,5) and daughter (3). Her husband works at an investment fund

“My husband would like to work part-time, but that is really not possible at work. And I don’t want to work part-time, so my youngest goes to daycare for five days and my oldest to BSO for four days.

“My family sometimes feels sorry for the children, but my daughter loves the care. She has a strong bond with the leaders. When she was not allowed to go there because of corona, she was crying with her jacket ready. It really is her second home.

“My son asks again and again why I work so much, compared to other mothers. He never says that to his father. I keep explaining to him that I think it’s important to do something for society.

“Working is a real gift for me. I love being with my kids, but not all day. I’m a nicer mom when I come home after work.

“And yet, if I am very honest, I have noticed in corona time that things can be done differently. Suddenly I felt how nice it is to be at home more often. As important as I think my work is, I don’t know if I will always do it that way.”

Karlien de Waardt (39):
‘They are not used to full-time working women in IT’

Working full-time and mothering part-time: why do so few women do it?

Who: Karlien de Waardt (39)
Work: head of cybersecurity at Fujitsu
Family: daughter (12), son (8), son (5)

“Working part-time has never been a topic of conversation in our home. ‘How do you arrange that with three children?’ is a question I get very often. But with the help of my mother and in-laws and working from home for a day, I succeed.

“What I really dislike is the continuous schedule at primary school. That does not take into account a father and a mother who work full-time. For a mother who works part-time it might be nice, but for us it’s very inconvenient. Fortunately, our oldest daughter can sometimes help out.

“They are not used to full-time working women at my work either. The IT world is full of prejudice. For example, I had a manager who didn’t want me to work from home, because the children would distract me too much, while the male employees were allowed to work from home. There was also a manager who couldn’t get a hold of me after one call and immediately sent an email in which he asked if I ‘please pass on the times that I am not busy with the children used to be’.

“I find it so bizarre that people still think that women always take care of themselves. Hopefully the younger generation will change this.”

Engracia Castelo (33):
‘My family called me a part-time mom’

Working full-time and mothering part-time: why do so few women do it?

Who: Engracia Castelo (33)
Work: entrepreneur and formerly sales manager at a palm oil company
Family: son (6)

“As a single mother, I was constantly asked whether I should not work less. But I had certain goals, such as moving up the ranks and getting a higher salary, which you simply can’t achieve if you work part-time.

“I never cared about it, but when the nursery manager told me that my baby was the only one who was at the nursery all day five days a week and whether I should take a step back from my work I had to swallow for a while.

“My environment was also critical. My ex-partner also worked full-time, but felt that I should start working part-time, knowing how important my work was to me. And my family called me a part-time mom and thought I shouldn’t let someone else “raise” my child.

“I’ve always managed to shake this off. I love my job and my son really wasn’t hurt by it. The fact that I started my own business has nothing to do with him. But it’s a nice bonus that I’m there more often now and my son only has to go to the after-school care for three more days.”

Donja van Bokhorst (44):
‘I wouldn’t want it any other way’

Who: Donja van Bokhorst (44)
Work: flight attendant
Family: daughter (14)

“No one understands how I do it, being a single mother and a full-time flight attendant. When my daughter was born, the father was already out of the picture, yet I continued to work full-time.

“My mother looked after the first two years, after that my daughter stayed with a host family and later a nanny came to the house. Now she can stay home alone. We video call as often as we can. In the morning we get up together and in the evening I stay in the hotel room for a game of yahtzee at a distance.

“People think I’m never there, but working full-time as a flight attendant often means I’m gone for five days and then back home for four days. I was even able to be a class mother.

“Actually, I wouldn’t want it any other way. Of course I would have preferred to have a ‘normal’ family, but now I’m enjoying a few days at the pool in South Africa and I can cope with it all at home.

“However, working full-time does mean making concessions. If the babysitter sends your child to school in orange pants and a purple T-shirt, don’t worry about it. If that bothers you, yes, then you should indeed always be present.”

Working full-time and mothering part-time: why do so few women do it?
Source link Working full-time and mothering part-time: why do so few women do it?

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