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I am sure that Angela Merkel, Nicola Sturgeon and Theresa May have many things in common in addition to being exceptional politicians. For a recruitment consultant who spends a reasonable amount of time talking to candidates about how to make their career work around their child care, one of the most striking things is that none of them have children.
I don’t want to get into the wider social debate about why women tend to shoulder more of the burden of domestic chores and child care. Let us just accept for the moment that this is the general position. Does this mean that women now have to make a choice? Is it either children or career?
Many of the female candidates that register with BCL Legal have major concerns that their desire (or requirement) to work part-time or flexibly will impact on their careers. Either that they won’t be able to find a job offering the required levels of flexibility or that they will be held back in their career progression. Perhaps it is not hard to see why they feel this, when the women being paraded around the media as examples of female empowerment don’t have children themselves.
Let us not forget that Margaret Thatcher had children, that Hilary Clinton has children and that Marine Le Pen has children. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that both Hilary and Marine will win elections next year, leaving us in the unprecedented positions where four out of the world’s six richest countries will have women in the leading political positions.
So having a family is clearly not a complete barrier to having a successful career. My own mother did well in her chosen career and became a Head Teacher, despite my existence in the world. It must be said that I speak to more and more female Partners around Birmingham who have working arrangements that create a win/ win scenario for both them and the firm. Popular solutions seem to be early starts/ early finishes (never the other way round!!), working a day from home and working a four day week.
Indeed one female Partner I speak to regularly feels that children are an advantage when networking. She describes them as “the female equivalent of football”. Her meaning is that you always have something to talk to other mothers about, in the same way that “men can usually talk to other men about football”.
Being a working mother, is certainly challenging. Particularly for those who also have ambitions of rising to the top of their chosen career. It can leave people feeling like they are doing neither job particularly well. However, interestingly here at BCL Legal we find that many of our most successful consultants are not only women, not only have children but also work flexibly! Hopefully we now live an enlightened enough world where the best people rise to the top, regardless of their family circumstances.
If you wish to discuss any issues around flexible or part-time working either with an intention to explore new options with a new employer or just to get a sense of the kind of arrangements that can be available then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Manager – Private Practice
0121 237 5612.