I realise from this that in that sort of culture, us working mums can’t have it all.

I don’t really know where to start and feel guilty even posting this. I was in a management position on the path to promotion before I went on maternity leave with my second child. I had always received positive feedback about my performance in the run up to going on maternity leave and kept up a good dialogue with my line manager and our head of department both immediately before going on leave, during it and after returning. I had reduced my hours to part time following return from my first maternity leave and would continue that working pattern when returning the second time. I relished the prospect of returning to work both times round, being able to use my skills, my brain and have some adult company!

All continued to look positive until unfortunately my line manager moved on and my new line manager, also a part time working mum (who is clearly married to her job), took over. Things changed almost overnight; I was told I needed to demonstrate more commitment to the role (ie. more late nights, more travel, working on my non-working days, be more of a “24/7” person); totally at odds with any feedback I had received previously. However I took the challenge and did my best; having two young children at home would mean this was difficult but I wanted to prove myself. The pressure and, in my view, unrealistic expectations, began to increase. My workload doubled as other leavers were not replaced and I was expected to take on more work despite my reduced hours, and I began to think I didn’t really want to progress anymore if this was the “new normal”. I raised my concerns with my bosses a number of times but was fobbed off, asked to offer the solution myself (which I realised was them telling me indirectly I needed to increase my hours), and at this point I decided I needed to leave the organisation which was a real shame given that until the very last few months, I had enjoyed my job and had wanted a promotion. The culture was anything but flexible despite trying to give that perception outwardly and to others in the team. My line manager was clearly prepared to sacrifice her own time with her children but I was not. I felt completely unsupported and like they were trying to force me to leave.

Since leaving I have been much much happier in my new role, however I have since learned that others who were much less experienced than me have been promoted despite being much younger, and in the lower role for less than half the time that I was – none of them have children and all work full time. I realise from this that in that sort of culture, us working mums can’t have it all. I feel very aggrieved and disappointed by the way I was muscled out. It is blatant discrimination, even though the perpetrators will spin it differently. It makes me sad to write this even though I have moved on personally in my new job.


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