I’ve noticed myself feeling jealous of men lately and it all has to do with being a working mom who has a part-time dilemma.
The vast majority of men (there are always exceptions) grow up learning that their job in life is to be a provider. They know as they seek out their trade or career that their job is to support their families. Even when a dual income is needed, how often do men feel guilt about going to work? I think it can be attributed to two distinct reasons. The first is that our society is set up to understand that men work and second men are not wired to feel guilty about going to work. It seems to be more of a biological instinct for them to go out and provide. Women, however, feel a biological instinct to mother their children. So, what do we do when we either have to go to work or want to go to work and still feel guilt? How do we find a balance?
Lately, I have been daydreaming about working part-time. I have found that many companies in Corporate America are not favorable to this and frankly… it sucks.
As a quick reminder, I currently work full-time for a Fortune 100 company that I have been at since I was 20. I am in my 9th year and I received my MBA while working full-time there. I have climbed the pay grade ranks in a pretty typical manner, nothing extraordinary. I am now in a fairly comfortable position. I make decent money for where I live and I am able to work from home two days a week (but not with my daughter at home). I think I know enough about the company to be valuable to them. When the idea of part-time crossed my mind, aside from all of the personal/family issues that need to be addressed to make it work, I found out that I’d have to take a huge step down.
Why is that fair? Why does time at my desk equal productivity?
I know enough about myself to realize that keeping one foot into the professional world is important to me. I read an article posted here on WMAG last week that addressed what a SAHM does once her kids go to school. I honestly do not judge any woman who chooses to stay out of the workforce but I am confident that person is not me. I also know that if I leave completely for 5-6 years that it will take me well into my 40s (I am only 28) to get back to where I am now and I am not even where I want to go yet. I know not working is simply not an option even before we take into account money.
Part-time really seemed to be the answer to all my problems, until I laid out the facts.
- I would have to go down four pay grades at minimum, somewhere in the neighborhood of $10-$15 less an HOUR!
- It is considered a demotion
- Fellow professionals tend to view part-time female workers as moms first and caring about their careers last “it is just a paycheck to her”
- There is no way to advance
- More is expected out of you at work and home– often times women find they have to do the work of a 40 hour week in 25 hours while being paid less and contribute more elbow grease to the household (after all they are home more often now!)
- There are no benefits (though for me this is not an issue because my husband works at the same company)
Let’s stop there. My maternal instincts are screaming at me that my career is not worth losing all this precious time with my daughter! Now the guilt seeps in. How many men are dealing with this dilemma? What if men wanted to work part-time and spend more time at home? Would society adjust and make it easier for them?
The only thing I am certain of is that this decision has been agonizingly difficult for me and I wish I could find the magical answer that I felt in my gut was right for me. If it’s not full-time, part-time or stay at home, what is it?