What do most of child-free working women face14.09.2021
The 40-hour workweek was created for a ‘men world’, where that man has a wife to look after the house and children. Women began to work part-time as soon as they entered the workforce. Over the years, more progressive workplaces have made it easier for employees to work flexible hours and remote work arrangements.
How has this affected the growing number of women who choose to live a life without children?
Research suggests that child-free mothers face higher expectations of working longer hours and are less likely to take holiday leave than those with children at home. Yvette Montano, Liquid HR, explained that this bias can often be attributed to deeply rooted societal values.
She said that many people regard family highly and it is well-known as a valid reason for being absent. This shows that not all important aspects of people’s lives like mental health, pets or friendships are granted the same validity. She said that while managers might recognize these reasons as grounds for leaving, it is usually easier to leave when it has to do with the family and children.
People are more compassionate when there are fewer questions. Parents can leave work at short notice to care for their child. However, other priorities should be considered and planned for.
Expect child-free employees to “pick up the slack”
Montano stated that child-free workers face greater expectations and pressures in the workplace when it comes to performance. Montano added that “anyone without a child can often be expected to pick up any remaining work when a parent has to leave due to personal reasons.”
Someone in the workplace must pick up the work. It is understandable. However, it will be those who are present in the office and not absent because of their family circumstances.
“Children can cause parents to be unpredictable and make it difficult to take time off. It is therefore natural that people who are not child-free will pick up the slack when they need it.” This is an inherent part of working in teams, but if it becomes a habit and isn’t recognized or appreciated, it can lead to a decrease in the well-being and job satisfaction for those without children.
Subtle devaluation for child-free women’s work
Did you know that a parent who works full-time is often referred to their work as a “holiday”? Although it is often said in jest to vent, the truth is that these seemingly innocent comments are not meant to be serious.
While raising children while working is no easy task, comments such as this suggest that their work at home is more important or harder than that done in the workplace. This reinforces patriarchal ideas that a woman’s primary and most important role is to be a mother or wife and everything else is secondary.
Psychosocial well-being of child-free mothers
Women who are not mothers should not have to choose between a steady paycheck and a healthy work/life balance. They shouldn’t be forced to be overworked or make tough choices because they don’t take their motherhood seriously.
It is a narrow and unfair view of women’s lives that suggests having children is enough to justify workplace flexibility. You can leave work at any time to go to an evening class, make new friends, or start a side business.
Women who are not married or who are should not be the first to take annual leave during holidays (it depends on other circumstances). They may still have family traditions.
It is wrong to assume that a woman who is unmarried or child-free at work doesn’t have any important relationships or activities in her life. This applies not only to those who are childless, but also those who are single, separated, or asexual and don’t feel comfortable sharing details about their private lives that may affect their work arrangements.
Achieving a more equal workplace
Our colleagues spend a lot of time together, so policies that are inequitable or biased can cause tension in the workplace between women if they have an impact on their careers. Women can become distracted from their common goal to live a life that is fulfilling and happy by thinking about how they will be treated if there is competition or scarcity in the workplace.
Montano recommends that you understand your minimum rights in your current job if you feel discriminated against at work for having a child-free lifestyle. She said that flexibility in working hours is something she can request, even if it’s after a child’s birth.
“If you have a legitimate reason, you can talk to your workplace about it and hopefully reach an agreement. It might be time for you to consider the market if your workplace doesn’t share the same values as yourself.
Although we have a long way before we can create a truly inclusive workplace, which includes equal opportunities for working women, companies can make a start now by making changes to ensure that children-free employees are treated equally and get the same rights as their parents.