Women: Damned if we do Damned if we Don’t in the Workplace

Check  out this research. It is not the first I have read about how childfree can be discriminated in the workplace.  Madelyn Cain deals with it in her book the Childless Revolution, and here some more recent research by UK researcher Dr. Caroline Gatrell. She spent six years researching women in the workplace, and explains in the article , “Childless Women vilified by boss’: Why NOT having a family could ruin your career” that “Women who explicitly choose career over kids are often vilified at work and face enormously unjust treatment.” Childfree women have told me that …

..not having kids by choice can often be seen negatively in the workplace and it does not help them get promoted.  Not wanting kids can be viewed as a certain unwillingness to to take on responsibility or lack of maturity. Supposedly, having a family also evidences that women can effectively multitask (and not have them shows they can’t?).  I wonder men’s choice not to have kids impacts them negatively in the workplace…Men having a family can imply stability–so if they don’t does it mean they are not? Hardly.

For women, it’s a double edged sword. If we are seen as of child-bearing age we can also be overlooked for more senior roles because employers may assume we will be having a baby and when we do, it will impact our ability to take on a senior role effectively. As Sr. Gatrell points out: ‘Women with children are blamed for combining motherhood with paid work – and women with no children are sidelined and discounted because they are not mothers.’

It seems the issue goes beyond whether women have children or not. Women still face more hurdles to be treated equitably, mothers or not.

What do you think? What has been your experience?

2 thoughts on “Women: Damned if we do Damned if we Don’t in the Workplace

  1. There’s also the other trend: Women without kids get shafted on scheduling. I’ve been switched from promised shifts because other women complained that their shift would be too inconvenient with their child. This was particularly annoying at a new job, when everyone knew going in that they might be up for afternoon shifts, but all the mothers of young children flat-out refused to work any but the morning shift that everyone wanted. Or when women say that other people should work late instead of them because “I have a toddler and they don’t”.

    Then again, I have actually been encouraged by coworkers not to have children at the moment. I worked in a relatively lower-end job (customer service), and a lot of my coworkers were single moms who felt from their own experiences that it was a waste of potential to have children right away.

    1. Thanks for mentioning that trend..many woman do speak to this. Have you read The Childless Revolution? Cain discusses some discriminatory issues with the childfree in the workplace and while her book came out a few years ago, from what I hear from childfree women more recently, the issues still remain….~L

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *