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.

19 thoughts on “Equality for Women: Is it all about the money?”

  1. Really interesting post Zoe. As a fellow public sector employee it’s the same in education. I work full time but most of the other (female) parents of young children I work with are P/T. However, there are also plenty of men at my workplace with young children, and not a single one is P/T. I think there are two issues here. As you say one is ensuring that being P/T doesn’t mean being overlooked for opportunities or made to feel less valued in your role. The other is ensuring that fathers also feel that going P/T is a real possibility for them, and that their careers won’t suffer either. At the moment it feels as though it’s always mothers who are expected to go P/T and then just accept that their career opportunities will take a hit. Choice isn’t really choice of there isn’t an alternative, and I think a lot of men probably would quite like to go P/T but feel that they can’t, and vice versa.

  2. I totally agree with you. I think we have a long way to go before women who work part time are properly valued in the workplace, and working part time is seen as a valid choice. I know a lot of women who would like to work part time but can’t because their employers won’t allow it, or because they’re worried they’re going to damage their careers. There should be more flexible options to allow women to pursue their careers while still being able to raise a family.

  3. ‘Equality is not all about the money, it’s about feeling equally valued in the workplace’ – this is the crux of your argument for me – I worked as a Nurse Consultant but part-time and I just didn’t feel my voice was as strong as my colleagues who could stay after 5pm as they didn’t have to rush back for the Nanny or childcare. I felt less a part of a team as couldn’t fully commit in the same way. I felt, like you that I was failing as a mother, a wife and in my career and wasn’t doing anything to the best of my ability. I don’t know what the answer is but I don’t think women should quit – that gives the wrong message – over time and endurance there has to be change. Well done for writing this great post #BigPinkLink

  4. I agree, I noticed as well, when I worked fewer hours I got treated like I was far less intelligent. It was like a single mother working 3 days was a slacker airhead but one working 4 was sensible and responsible and if I upped it to five then I’d be a respectable and dedicated member of the time. To some companies hours worked = commitment and they don’t measure it on much else!


  5. I so agree that it’s not just about the pay (although of course it would be great if that could be rectified too). It’s crazy that in this day and age this is still a problem. I hope by the time my daughter is an adult this won’t be a problem/issue anymore.

  6. I couldn’t agree more. My career took a bit of a nose-dive after I had my first daughter even though I returned to work on full time compressed hours. I remember one director saying to me in a jokey but serious fashion ‘See I told you, no kids’ (and she as a woman!) I came back part-time after the birth of my second daughter and yes the opportunities disappeared to the point where they weren’t even flagged up to me so in the end I went for VR. I don’t even think the way my VR was treated was equal because they based my severance money on my 11 months working part-time rather than my 17 years of full-time work, that probably wouldn’t have happened to a man as he wouldn’t have gone part-time. Oops that became a rant!
    You’ve obviously touched a nerve there! Great post

  7. Brilliant post. It’s so sad that you feel unappreciated in your job, simply because you want to be a mum too. You highlight such an important issue that Emma Watson is doing such a wonderful job fighting. How exciting that you were on the radio too! Thanks for linking with us. #bigpinklink

  8. I applaud for speaking out because uunfortunately that is how the workplace has labelled us women. If we are freelancers then we must have loads of free time and if we are mothers who happen to be working too, as a part timer we are like you said overlooked. Its awful and they should not overlook you simply because you are invested in your kids. The way that they should see it is by being so invested in your kids why can’t that be applied to a role in management which ultimately would show them that you are very capable and that being a mother might define you as a person but it does not define all your capabilities .

  9. I can see it from both sides and admire companies that offer flexible working but for some it is just not possible – they need staff there when the consumer demands it. I worked for an investment bank and was expected to do the same volume of work part-time than i did when I worked full time and new starters were employed on a much higher rate than I was which was unfair. I am now self-employed as could not afford to put my kids in childcare after they could only offer me a full time role

  10. I agree that it definitely doesn’t mean less dedication if you’re there part time. I’ve been reading and following Emma Watson’s campaign for years and think she’s doing great awareness on the subject!

  11. I agree that it definitely doesn’t mean less dedication if you’re there part time. I’ve been reading and following Emma Watson’s campaign for years and think she’s doing great awareness on the subject!

  12. You’ve made some really interesting points. If you’re part time you definitely shouldn’t be overlooked for opportunities – especially if there would be a possibility of job sharing.
    Alana x

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