Saturday, December 31, 2011

Are Childless Woman Untrustworthy as Workmates?

A 2009 article titled “Why bosses are right to distrust women who don't want children... by a VERY outspoken mother (and ex-boss)” that appeared in the UK’s Daily Mail and was recently posted on the Childless by Choice Project facebook group page is generating a lot of chatter amongst the childfree and childless members of this group (BTW, this is a closed group but you are welcome to join us, just click here).

You really have to read the entire article to understand why but here’s just one of the many statements made by Carol Sarler, the writer of this piece, that got us all a-flutter:
In my experiences both as a colleague and an employer, I have found that mothers almost always bring something extra to the job, to the benefit of all.
It's not the mothers, for a start, who are going to turn up late and hungover after a night on the razz; they'll have been up, dressed and alert for hours, having cooked a family breakfast and delivered their children to school. On time.
It's not the mothers, usually, who run the office bitch-fest.
They're not there to compete for the attentions of the male executives; they're there to get out of the house; they're there because they genuinely enjoy some adult company; and they're there because they have mouths to feed other than their own and shoes to buy for someone else's feet.
She parrots the stereotype noted in the study she cites that childless woman lack an “essential humanity” and goes on to say “we actually need our children; they complete us as women, they are our light and our love and our legacy.”

This last statement alone speaks volumes. First there is the word “need” which is a red flag for me as a life coach. Then “they complete us as women, they are our light and our love and our legacy” which indicates a core belief that women must have children to feel complete or whole which is unfounded and, in my personal experience, untrue.

So to support her belief that childless women are weird and cold and undesirable as workmates, she points to a study that shows that these tired old stereotypes and assumptions are shared by others like her. This is just sad. It’s like saying “Yes, me and my buddies down at the factory believe that people who own cats can’t be trusted, have bad work habits, and are just plain weird. The fact that so many people believe this must make it true!”

What also raise alarm bells for me is what is not said here--her omission of childless men. Are they untrustworthy too?

Flickr Photo by Massdistraction


Jen said...

I can't tell you how many times the expectations for me, a childless, married woman, have been greater than that of a woman with a child (married or not) AT WORK. I love children and have great empathy for mothers. I also sympathize with myself. The woman who is still at the office at 9pm. Granted, I do not have to return home as a guilty mother, but I do sometimes arrive as a guilty wife.

bonita akajina said...

Why are employers aware of a woman's parental status anyway? I don't really think it is anyone's business except friends and family members.

Childless.Stepmother said...

Yes, someone said to me once better to be divorced with kids than never married with no kids. So I guess it's ok to ruin a kid's life then decide not too.

Arkvander said...

Because no mother was ever late for work because her child missed the bus, or missed work completely because her child was sick from school, or came in too tired because her child was up all night with a tantrum. Having a child doesn't make you a better worker, being a better person does. We all have stress and circumstances in our lives that may hinder our work productivity but it is up to the individual to choose how they deal with those circumstances. This is just another broad stereotype that claims to include a lot more people than it actually does.

Gecko said...

While taking a phone message for my manager recently. I accidentally stumbled over my words and said "She only part works" instead of "she only works part-time". I corrected myself on the phone, but realised that actually, it's true.

Given her sketchy attendance record, frequent personal phone calls, and lax attitude to her working hours, it's unsurprising that the company owner has never hired another parent - the rest of the workforce is men, with the only other female being myself (married and childfree).

Liz @ MaybeBabyMaybeNot said...

I love that people think us Childfree are "on the Razz" and calling in hungover all the time - what a wild time we must be having!

In the four-and-a-half years I was at my previous job, I didn't call in hungover once, though I certainly was, many a time. However, I couldn't even calculate the number of times my Childed co-workers called in for kids who were sick, receiving an award at school, having an early soccer game, etc.

I'm not saying they shouldn't attend these these things. By all means, I think they should (though I wish the Childfree were granted comp time as well). But I truly can't believe someone had the gall to imply that Childed people show up more frequently to work than the Childfree.