Equality for Women: Is it all about the money?

I was invited this week to talk on BBC radio about equal pay for women. It was an interesting experience hearing myself on the radio. It also made me think. Until the question was raised by Nick Robinson about the difference in mine and my husbands pay I had never really thought about it. You see Mr Pud and I work in the same field so it’s easy to make a comparison between our wages. Obviously I don’t make as much as he does as I work part-time following the birth of our two children. It doesn’t worry me that he makes more than I do. After all he shoulders the majority of the bills and its ‘our’ money. But it did get me thinking.

Having our children was a joint decision. As was me reducing my hours at work to take on my new mothering role. However, I never really contemplated the effect going part-time would have on my career. It’s not just my monthly income. Being part-time means I am often overlooked for extra opportunities, such as training or extending my role into management. Almost like I am not considered a valuable member of the team. Not worth investing in because I am too involved in raising my kids. I can see that this is why my husbands role has far outstripped my own. The opportunities he has had would never be offered to a part-time employee. Don’t get me wrong he has worked so hard and deserves to be where he is. But what now for me?

Men and women have rols (1)

I love my children, they are my world. But it does feel as though they are now the only world I am allowed to have. Labelled a part-timer and a mother. A label that on closer inspection is holding my career back. Perhaps I am to blame. In all honesty I don’t want to have to be out of the house longer than my contracted hours. Equally so I don’t want to stagnate in my role. Or to lose my passion and drive in a career that I have worked so hard to achieve.

For me it’s not about the gender pay gap. Of course my husband earns more than me, he works more hours than I do. But this feeling of being a lesser member of the team because of my reduced hours is damaging. I can feel my lack of confidence growing at work. The anxiety I have begun to feel about my job has made me reconsider my decision to work at all. Some days it feels that despite my best efforts I am failing. Failing at my career, failing as a mother and failing myself. I always dreamed that I would achieve great things. That one day I would be Chief Nurse in a forward thinking innovative NHS. I can’t even imagine that now.

“Don’t let anyone tell you what you can and can’t do or achieve. Do what you want to do and be who you want to be. Just en

It is not just the gender pay gap that is holding women back. How can we reach true equality for women when we cannot support part-time employees in the work place? I know myself that working part-time does not mean that a woman lacks passion or ambition. The biggest hurdle for gender equality is providing equal opportunities. Offering career pathways that include flexible training around reduced hours. Realising that part-time doesn’t mean less dedication.   Equality is not all about the money, it’s about feeling equally valued in the workplace.

To My Baby on My Return to Work

Dearest Pudding,

I have something to tell you. I can’t say it out loud because I can’t bare to hear it spoken. I know I have whispered it into your ear at night. My darling Mummy has to go back to work this week.

I won’t be here when you wake. I won’t be there to respond to your cooing. To wrap you in my arms and kiss you. Too peep round the corner and say ‘morning’ in that way that makes you smile. I will miss that first ‘eeeeEEE’ of excitement at a new day. There will be no snuggles on the bed while we both have a drink.

In fact my sweetheart you won’t see me all day. I won’t be back before bed time. You won’t get to splash me in the bath. Or dance around the kitchen to some amazing 80s pop. There will be no last bedtime cuddle before we put Ewan on. No last minute whispers of a I love you before you close your eyes.

I am sorry Mummy’s girl. But I have to go. Just know that I will miss you. That I will think of you far more often than you think of me. I will picture your smile and hear your laugh. Of course I shall bore my colleagues with pictures of you. Unfortunately there are other babies who need me too. Smaller and sicker, more fragile than you. I know it’s not easy for Mummy to be gone all day. But Daddy and Pie will be here to play.

I will be back tonight, although you won’t see me. You won’t hear me creep into your room and kiss you goodnight. Just remember I love you, my beautiful girl. You and your brother are my entire world.

Love Mummy

Diary of an imperfect mum