My tens of regular readers may have noticed that I bang on about working mothers’ issues a lot.
The thing is, we’re pretty fucked. I was unaware of exactly how fucked until I became a parent myself, and discovered that despite having a flexible employer and a supportive partner, being a working mother feels impossible at times.
The crushing cost of childcare, the assumption that the mother is the ‘default’ parent, the fact that professional part-time jobs are so difficult to find – it’s like society is saying, “It’s cute that you want to do this whole working thing, but are you sure you wouldn’t be happier at home with a baby attached to your boob?”
Some of us would – and that’s okay. But I wouldn’t, and I know a lot of other mothers wouldn’t either. We want to work, but we struggle to fit family life around roles with rigid hours, and have to fight the assumption that part-time workers only have partial skills.
Here are just a few shocking facts about being a working mum:
1. 59% of UK employers agree that a woman should have to disclose whether she is pregnant during the recruitment process
2. 46% of employers agree it is reasonable to ask women if they have young children during recruitment
3. Around a third of UK employers believe that women who become pregnant and new mothers in work are ‘generally less interested in career progression’ when compared to other employees
4. Nearly 30% of UK mothers don’t return to work after having a baby because it’s not financially worth it, thanks to childcare costs that are the highest in the world
5. In the UK, women and men now spend a near-identical amount of time working when household chores are included – but men are paid for almost 25% more of their work
6. By the time a couple’s first child is 20, many mothers earn less than 30% of what fathers do
7. The average female employee currently earns around 9.1% less per hour than the average male employee – and about a quarter of the wage gap is a result of mothers taking part-time work
8. Mums of young children are losing out on more than £1 billion in earnings each year
9. 41% percent of women who have reduced their hours after having children say their responsibilities have not lessened
10. Women lose out on nearly £140 billon a year due to the gender pay gap
With International Women’s Day coming up on 8 March, now is the time to talk about these issues. Now is the time to #PressforProgress. Now is the time to realise that there are an awful lot of us women out there, and if we all demand that things change – well, who’s going to be able to stop us?