I believe it is important for women to be self-sufficient, powerful and in control of their careers – and not exiting to have kids and finding it very hard to come back to a career they love later.

I don’t purport to have specific answers (although I have plenty of opinions), and every woman has different needs and beliefs about what constitutes their ideal life.

However we do know:

  • many women give up high paying and promising careers to raise children and many don’t ever come back to their careers even though they’d like to
  • many women take up to 12 years out of their working life, and lose knowledge and critical experience during that time, making it difficult to simply pick up where they left off
  • there is a gender pay gap – including superannuation (often because of the career hiatus many women take). That makes women more financially and socially vulnerable when it comes to divorce, separation and being trapped in abusive situations
  • in the PR sector in particular, there is a significant shortfall in experienced communications professionals (and has been for many years) because many leave the industry to start families and find it very difficult to return – and many consultancies continue to offer limited roles when it comes to flexible positions or true career development for women with parental demands.
  • many organisations continue to overlook women for senior management roles if they believe women are going to leave to start families – which results in less women making it through to positions of authority in most industries and government.

“The more research I do about the place of women in society in the recent past and the obstacles women have faced to get where we are today, the more thankful I am to previous generations in not settling for the status quo.”

It’s on us to not rest on our laurels but to ensure we truly can live full and engaged lives – and I firmly believe financial independence and a long-term meaningful career is part of that story for most women – even if it remains difficult today to achieve.

It’s difficult because there are structural issues still holding women back. It’s also difficult because of our own tendencies as women to self-censure, self-limit and self-criticise.

Developing greater self-belief and demanding more from the companies we work for or the institutions we deal with isn’t going to be achieved instantly. We can dare ourselves to try however – just like women before us did in order to be recognised as entitled to vote, divorce and not be discriminated against (overtly anyway) in the workplace.

It is important to acknowledge that fathers are also balancing paid work with parenthood. In no way am I perpetuating the myth that mothers alone should be worrying about balancing careers and raising children – this should not be the case, however as a working mum and an employer of predominantly women this is a natural start and the reality is there is still a huge gap for women in the workplace that needs to be addressed.

From a personal perspective, I was married at 19 years old and I worked to support my then husband to go to uni, which meant I didn’t take that opportunity myself. I had my first child at 24. I was divorced shortly afterwards and realised that for my independence I needed to excel in my career. I realised I was not willing to be dependent on anyone, and that I wanted my son to be proud of his mother and everything I accomplished. I later married again and had another son and have maintained my career throughout. My husband and I have a 50-50 partnership (mostly, we aren’t perfect). In my experience, and through my research, it’s clear that equality between partners leads to happier relationships.

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