The recent decision by Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s chief executive to take “limited parental leave” once she gives birth to twins invoked a strong reaction about “proper” motherhood.
There has been intense debate on work life balance for working mothers.
As a mother, I would not prefer working full time. I would instead take a good care of my children and family. It’s not that I don’t want to work but until my child is grown up, I would prefer a flexible job that allows me to manage my family responsibilities.
Traditionally a mother was expected to look after the family but gender demarcation has blurred today. It is difficult for a working mother to balance work and family. A study in the United States shows around 75% of mother work full-time in the first year of their child’s life. Most jobs offer maternity leave for the first four to six weeks of a child’s life. However, mothers are generally back to work when their child is still an infant. A research conducted by the National Institute of Child Health and Development in 1991 found that those children reported significant behavioral problems whose mother worked full time before the child was three months old. Another research in China found that children whose parents migrated to urban cities for better job opportunities from rural areas, leaving children behind with their grandparents, reported behavioral problems.
In Germany, women seem to reflect a view that mothers should stay home. Just one in five Germans think that mothers of young children should work full-time. But despite of this traditional social stigma, half of the German women who work part-time say they would like to work longer hours. One reason could be that it is almost impossible to build a career working part-time. Most bosses and HR executives still believe that managers should be available at all hours. Moreover, part-time jobs are heavily concentrated in a few areas, such as secretarial, social care and retails.
Urban life in Nepal is intense and both the parents are working today. Those parents working full time in private organizations, where the job is demanding and they are expected to spend major chunk of their time in office, are having tough time managing carrier and family life. Women are having difficult time, one is deprived of benefit packages and promotions after she returns from her maternity leave.
What can be done?
In an interview on International Women’s Day, Chistine Legarde, the IMF chief, she said that world economy would grow by trillions if we were able to use the labour contribution of female workers. The United Nations has set a goal to make female labour force participation to 50% by 2050. Sweden was ranked the most successful country to balance between work and family. Generous spending on family benefits, flexible leave and working hours for parents with young children and affordable, high-quality childcare are the main factors for the success.
The author is associated with Jobs Dynamics Pvt. Ltd., as a consultant and trainer. She is also a visiting faculty for different management colleges. She can be reached at email@example.com.