The other day, I was chatting with a friend about my impression that being a mother to a baby affected my chances of being hired. Super A, as I lovingly call her, was quite unbelieving in an indignant way. She said that this “peak would be hard for me to climb” because I’m midway into building a career and simultaneously a first-time mother.
After airing her frustrations about this “macho” attitude, she suggested that the next time I go to an interview I should mention how I was able to develop certain qualities thanks to my baby: empathy, patience, multi-tasking, organizational skills and time management. I was delighted at this idea (now you know why I call her Super A), but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the majority of hiring teams are not yet prepared for this kind of idea. I don’t say this because homemaking results might seem “silly” when presented as achieved objectives (such as: able to establish a routine with baby by 4 months of age, or could cook baby food while cleaning the house and keeping baby entertained, or refrigerator does not go empty for more than 24 hours, etc…). I say this because there is no monetary value assigned to such achievements. Certainly, when a candidate tells an interviewer that he was able to raise sales up to 5% in a quarter, or he was able to save 10% of last year’s operating costs it’s easy to imagine the amount of money those efforts translate to.
In the event where I could measure certain milestones as: able to sit up straight for 3 minutes without support (8% increased time compared to last month), 10% increase in attempts to crawl or perhaps 30% increased sleeptime at night, could anyone honestly tell me that a hiring team (any) would attribute these achievements to my newly-developed skills? Would anyone consider hiring me as Project Manager because I am being able to run a house and care for an infant with a little help? Would anyone employ me as a Research Assistant because I tirelessly read about a baby’s development, research about a baby’s nutritional needs, look for varied playtime activities and interview fellow mothers to learn about their experiences?
My baby is a happy, healthy, strong, active and well-behaved tot and I am proud of what I have contributed for him to be. Many of my friends and relatives have also done good, if not better jobs in raising their kids too- but how does society interpret that? Would women be considered as tougher leaders because they are able to “deal with” stubborn children who are more difficult than stubborn adults? Would women’s salaries at some point equate that of men’s because their emotional intelligence give them skills and talents comparable to those that men have?
Oh, Super A! our world has yet a long way to go…