‘Women wreck their careers by taking a year’s maternity leave’

The Evening Standard reports:

Women are wrecking their chances of making it to the top by taking their full 12 months maternity leave, a high-flying female financier has warned.

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Prolonged absence from any job – and for any reason – harms careers: that’s just common sense.  Long maternity (and paternity) leave causes difficulties for the takers themselves, other employees and the business. Of course, having a parent devoted long-term to bringing up his or her own children has its own advantages.

3 Responses to “‘Women wreck their careers by taking a year’s maternity leave’”

  1. Marie Lewis Says:

    What they said in one conference I attended last week is that we must ‘impose’ paternity leave on fathers – only by doing this can we prevent maternity leave from ‘wrecking’ women’s careers ie if men are forced to take compulsory paternity leave then, when employers are deliberating between a male or female employee, they will not be tempted to take the bloke instead. Of course presumably the chap’s career will also be wrecked – not to mention the business he is presumably trying to keep afloat. Apparently the big buzz word is ‘reconciliation’ but can there really be reconciliation between caring for children 24/7 and working 24/7? Basically these two jobs – working and caring – are BOTH full time jobs – so when will we realise that balance isn’t really possible if you want to do either of those jobs really well? However balance IS possible if you look at the couple equation instead of being fixated on the ‘individual’ – plenty of couples are achieving so-called ‘balance’ by deciding to divide their roles between them – and so long as they are happy with the arrangement, why worry?

    Furthermore there is the possibility of sequential work patterns – ie instead of doing two jobs ‘a la fois’ you could do 10 years caring followed by 10 years back in work – isn’t that also a good balance??? I would argue it is – but some people who have a ‘gender equality/50/50 utopia in mind will never accept this arrangement, dismissing it as old fashioned/backwards.

  2. Esther Says:

    Well, in a way I can see the point of “imposed” leave, Marie. (A bit like when I was on an NCT Committee where we were all required to claim expenses, even if we gave them back as a donation, in order that no-one would be put off from taking a job because of possible out-of-pocket expenses.) But such statutory leave would surely needed to be extended to every employee, not just those that become mothers or fathers!

    I disagree with your view of balance within a couple being sufficient. I would like to see a world where fathers have the opportunity to be involved in the upbringing of their children – this would mean spending less time at work, and more at home.

    What I would like is the requirement for a truly family friendly working environment (i.e. shorter working hours, not creches) for every employee of every business. Of course this can’t happen in an free market capitalist society. Caring for children is a 24/7 job, but it doesn’t have to be done by one person, and is BETTER done by two (yes, even if the second person is just caring for the first, as in the first few weeks of mother-baby bonding, where the father’s support is still invaluable.) I would say the same of a paid job – better that it is NOT all-consuming, but just one part of our lives. But it is a huge challenge to arrange modern lives in this way, and would be easier to do if there was legislation to give a framework to how we (as a society) think life should be.

  3. ftmuk Says:

    This is frightening, Marie, with policy makers dictating how couples care for their children, “You must take time off, Dad, and Mum must go out to work – even if neither of you want it that way”.

    I think the biggest challenge for the new Tory government next year is going to be if it has the moral courage to roll back the nanny/spying state.

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