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Motherhood should not define women in the workplace

It was interesting to see that what is arguably Britain’s top job was decided this week, not on the basis of experience or qualifications but on the issue of whether motherhood made for a better candidate.  Was it lazy journalism which chose to focus on this issue rather than the candidates’ qualifications for the job? Or is it that society genuinely defines women by these parameters as if it is insufficient for a woman to simply be good at her job? It is significant that one candidate felt forced to comment on the issue at all and it is not the first time nor will it be the last that women are defined by gender stereotypes.

RMS Recruitment London Women at Work

Some of the biggest news stories focus on issues of gender stereotype and while it is good that gender bias is exposed and making the headlines, why is it that a woman’s competence is so often defined by these things? The temp worker at PWC, Nicola Thorp was judged by her footwear not by her ability to do her job.

And the latest celebrity to fall foul of media scrutiny is Jennifer Aniston who was the subject of a tabloid frenzy debating whether or not she might be pregnant. Commendably for a woman who has maintained a quiet dignity throughout years of scrutiny of her relationships, weight, motherhood (or lack of it) Jennifer Aniston hit back at the way the media scrutinises women in a way they never do with men. One quote stood out from the Blog she felt compelled to post:

"This past month in particular has illuminated for me how much we define a woman's value based on her marital and maternal status. We are complete with or without a mate, with or without a child.”

Jennifer Aniston articulated what many women have struggled to express – that a woman can be happy and fulfilled even if she is not in a relationship and even if she does not have children. Yes, they really can!

Perhaps it is time to make a plea to the media, and more importantly to our employers to simply cease and desist with defining women on the basis of their marital or maternal status or even worse, how they look.

How women want to be defined in the workplace:

·         Women want to feel valued for their contribution to the business

·         Women want as much recognition for their ideas as their male counterparts

·         Women only want to be defined by their salary in so far as it is an indication of independence

·         Women want balance in their working lives

·         Women want employers to accept they should be able to “have it all” and not be judged negatively as a result.

Want to know what is remarkable about the above? That men actually want the same things.

A survey of more than 4,000 male and female professionals by management consulting firm Accenture found that there may be more similarities than differences between men and women when it comes to defining success. Both men and women ranked the qualities of career success as work-life balance first, followed by money, recognition, and autonomy.

In fact, in a more recent study by Citi and LinkedIn, a larger percentage of men than women equated success with a happy marriage and parenthood!

What women are actually crying out for is not to be defined at all. Most people’s definition of success is personal to them and many women like Taylor Swift and Julianne Moore talk about having the freedom to forge their own path. Perhaps work success is simply about finding something you enjoy and doing it well. If we can earn a decent living from it, all the better!

RMS Recruitment has a proven track record in finding jobs for candidates where they can excel and get as close to the work/life ideal as possible. To forge a better career path and find a work-life balance, please call our recruitment specialists on 0207 518 9170 or email info@rmsrecruitment.com

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