More Young Women Are Perplexed By Working Mothers Trying To Have It All

In the new film I Don’t Know How She Does It the plot revolves around a woman (played by Sarah Jessica Parker) struggling to have it all. It all being both a doting mother and wife as well as a high-powered career woman. From what we have seen in the trailers, it is definitely a struggle and apparently many women do not envy that struggle. In a new survey commissioned to coincide with the release of the film, there was found to be a whole generation of women who “don’t know why she does it” instead of “how she does it.”

The survey found that 44% of childless women feel sorry for working mothers trying to balance everything. A quarter think working mothers always look exhausted and one in five say it looks so difficult it makes them think twice about having children. Half of childless women over 30 look at stay-at-home mothers and think it will be difficult for them to get back on the career ladder and a fifth believe they’ve lost their identity. Meanwhile 26% admit they are fearful of the effect motherhood would have on their career. As harsh as all these percentages sound, this mode of thinking makes sense when you think about the number of studies and stories we hear about women struggling to get back on their career path after children enter the picture.

Some other interesting stats from the survey showed that their is a lot of animosity between working mothers and their childless colleagues.  One in six childless women feel working mothers are treated preferentially in the workplace. We wrote about women resenting their co-workers who left them behind with extra work when they went on maternity leave and even after they returned. Findings also showed that 42% of professional women without children feel constantly judged by working mothers and a quarter feel they are regarded by working mums as hardened career women simply because they don’t have children. These results indicate that it as if not having children automatically sends a signal to their colleagues with children that they are more ambitious than them.

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    • Lori B

      I have to wonder whether these perceptions are good or bad? The idea that a realistic perception of balancing a career with a family is difficult is probably a good thing. My mother and father were children of the 1960s and instilled in me that I could do it all. Although my mother was not a “career-woman,” she worked in an office and wore heels and skirts to work everyday. I idealized that image. Although my mother did not walk around smiling all the time, she seemed pretty happy to me. So, I followed in her foot steps; became a working career-woman, and became a mother two and a half years ago. The first two years were difficult! My job was very demanding and I found myself to be completely stressed out. About a year ago, my mother passed away. Upon cleaning out her things, I came across her diary from when I was a toddler and my brother was in junior high school. It was mostly filled with the monotony of day-to-day life, but there were also several entries in which she described how undervalued she felt. I don’t think I would have made any personal decisions differently having known that before, but it might have changed my stress level and the impact on my mental health. So, my point really is that having realistic expectations has to be better than expecting some “supermom” type of experience. Maybe these young women are less likely to be disappointed when they can’t live up to unrealistic expectations.

    • Amanda

      As a working mother, I do find it difficult to balance all my priorities, but I would not trade it for anything. I love working, and I love my family, but I have not lost my identity. What I do resent are the childless women in my workplace who look down on me with pity because they feel I have to juggle my responsibilities, all the while trying to make me feel bad for not being available for “Ladies Night” at the local bar (sorry, I don’t miss those at all!). For working moms, it’s only a struggle if you let it become one. And at the end of the day, women, with kids or without, should be more supportive of each other instead of judgmental. The glass ceiling still exists, ladies – let’s focus on that instead, shall we?

    • Rita

      Amanda you are right, I get a lot of animosity from the stay home moms who are really insecure and fear a women with brains and a head. I believe that I can pursue my career and have my wonderful boy and keep my family. I believe in a power house where both husband and wife works , and come home to a houseful of love and kids! I don’t feel that I have lost my identity or myself, I see it as an accomplishment, education, career, good looking, and experienced motherhood…. what can anybody possibly say against me? I normally make friends with the working or the successful women and am batteling the stay home… but I do not envy the lonely man or women who come home to a lonely quiet apartment …..It is one thing to be childless should you have a serious career such as celebrity, I would wait in that situation.

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