Career killer children

To pick up the question again, why there are only few women in leading positions and what keeps them from acquiring them, I found an interesting study by the Bertelsmann Stiftung about women’s career obstacles. It states that every second women names the double burden of family and profession as the main reason for changing her career wishes or giving them up totally. Only every fourth women identified lacking sponsorship at the workplace and too humble qualifications as career obstacles.

But why is it so hard for women to arrange family and profession? What is missing that could help them acquiring this arrangement? Is it support by the supervisor or maybe even the  partner? Are missing or not good enough work-life-balance programs the problem? How could this balancing act be handled?

Whereas 60% of the respondents of the above mentioned survey state that the arrangement of family and profession is very hard in Germany, the other 40% say that it can be arranged well. What is the difference between women who manage the arrangement and the other women who don’t? During my internship I got to know very successful women in top-management positions while supporting my supervisor in working on the women advancement program. These women reported from their experience that for them it was manageable to arrange family and job because they had support from their husbands or partners as well as family members. But the most important thing for them was organizing skills and their own initiative / engagement. They said that if a women has the will to get everything together she can, with the necessary support (also from the supervisor).

So is the whole debate about work-life-balance programs regarding the arrangement of family and profession  obsolete? Is it only the will of the women and the organizing skills of them which are important?

In my opinion it is a combination of both. The support from the supervisor and the company in general is as important as the private support from the partner or the family. But women cannot expect their employer to organize everything for them. I think that the demanding attitude towards the employer is a big problem. If women want to get everything together they have to do something for it themselves.

We live in a world, where everything is possible. That seduces us to want everything. And by wanting everything, we create the pressure of having to be perfect. And this a problem, everyone has to deal with themselves by setting priorities. Employers cannot do that for us. And if women want to have a challenging job and a family at once, they have to deal with the difficulties arriving from that wish. But of course, employers can support this wish by offering work-life-balance programs and most importantly support.

So children are the most often named career obstacles for women in the mentioned survey, but in my opinion, they don’t have to be!

8 Responses to “Career killer children”
  1. Bruce Spear says:

    This is an excellent reflection on the topic: good work! For your next post, you might try spending more time finding such commentaries on the web and linking to them so your reader is led from you out into a rich universe of resources … more web searching for you, but this will help you broaden your horizons, or? I think the issue is this: we are mostly brought up to talk like we know everything, but I think the new way is to be more scholarly, and that means to survey the relevant literatures and report on them and share your sources with your viewer. This should be easier, as it would relieve you of the burden of being the all-knowing expert, and more fun, too, as you then get to go on a treasure hunt and then “show-and-tell” your findings in the spirit and tone and action of sharing or “connecting”. A different way of working, huh? Good luck! Dr.B!

  2. Izzy says:

    I love your argumentation. “We live in a world, where everything is possible. That seduces us to want everything.” I know this feeling very well. However, I worry if it is too much to ask for a career and a family. Don’t you want this as well???
    One thing I wanted to mention, which supports the argument of children being a career killer is the different infrastructure for places in kindergarten in Eastern and Western Germany. I grew up in the Eastern part and when I was young my mum dropped me in the kindergarten at 6am and picked me up at 5-6pm, because she had a full-time job. In many parts of the “New Laender” this is still the norm whereas if you go west you will find that most of them don’t offer full-time care. This and the fact that the phenomenon of extended families and close living relatives become extinct makes it even more complicated for women to start a career and having kids at the same time.

  3. diiasg says:

    Very interesting topic, and if I may say I really enjoyed your second to last paragraph. I also believe that, everyone has choices to make and in most cases we as humans know the outcomes or consequences and trials and tribulations of our choices. (Yes i can see that the last sentence may be misconstrued, yet to summarize my thoughts during the writing of the sentence: A woman knows the input level needed at her workplace, and from indirect experience, also knows the input of energy motherhood brings.)

    As you stated in your post, an offering of support from the employer goes a long way, but in the end decisions come down to each and everyone on their own. I believe flexibility is the key word. Whether it be in business or in life, flexibility and the ability to adjust go a long way to minimizing failure.

    In case someone is looking for an example of how a family mother can make it work, look here:

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