For the first time I feel compelled to write, in response to the authors of the offensive and sexist comments that appeared under the heading ‘Pregnancy and promotion’ in the Feedback section.
One writer said: ‘We have leant too far towards the protection of women, and, therefore, why are we surprised that law firms prefer to employ men?’.
How is it possible to lean ‘too far’ in the protection of women? Further, and more shockingly sexist, was his (and I presume this dinosaur is male) comment that women who work and have children are ‘indulg(ing) their hobby’. Women having babies are the reason that the human race continues. It is not a hobby!
Is the writer suggesting that only uneducated women should have children, leaving their more educated counterparts to stay childless and in work? Or that we should go back to the 1950s, when women did not, on the whole, have responsible and professional jobs?
Of course women’s rights to maternity leave and protected employment status should apply. Goodness knows, few enough employers actually abide by the laws in practice.
As a working mother of two young children, I can categorically say that it is not a ‘hobby’ to have children – and it certainly is not a hobby to work and have children. Nor is it really a choice.
I, like most people I know, have to work (as does my partner), to have half a chance of affording a roof over our heads and sustaining any kind of lifestyle. If those in the generation above ours had not made such poor financial decisions, maybe it would be possible for more families to have one of the parents stay at home (not necessarily the mother, of course). But as it is, most people need two incomes to sustain a mortgage. There is no option.
I would invite the writer of those comments to come and see my daily routine. This involves the nursery and school runs in the morning, getting to work and doing a full day’s work (often on little sleep). Then I run off to do the same at the other end of the day, working into the night while also at the beck and call of, and being interrupted by, those two children. I wonder if the writer would still consider having children while working a ‘hobby’. I doubt it.
I understand that it is not easy for small businesses to make detailed plans around maternity leave. But having children is part of life – just like people deciding to leave a firm and head somewhere else, which the firm just has to deal with.
Lindsey Bowles, solicitor, James Morgan Solicitors, Cardiff