International Women’s Day 2022 – Break The Bias of Working Mothers

Every year on March 8th, we celebrate the achievements of women worldwide, remembering those who battled for their rights and considering how we might continue the fight for equality, and this year's theme, 'Break the Bias,' encourages us to identify some of the biases that women are up against.

With the GREAT Project having a majority of participants who are not only women, but also mothers, which adds another layer of gender bias, we decided to ask our staff about their own experiences of any biases they have encountered, either personally or through participants.

“It’s not uncommon for women to start weighing career versus family as early as graduating from university, thinking whether or not they will take maternity leave.
There are several scenarios surrounding working mothers, such as:

  • Being forced to return to work early due to low statutory maternity pay.
  • Often staying in undesirable employment purely to receive an enhanced maternity package which requires 2 years of employment.
  • Leaving the workforce to raise children as a result of the high cost of childcare.
  • Difficulty trying to return to work at the same level due to time away from work and no recognition for transferable motherhood skills.
  • Employers expect full days of work, not half days when hiring part-time workers, which would help work around school.

And yet, despite all of this, people continue to label mothers who do not work as lazy. I hope that on a wider scale we can #BreakTheBias on working mothers, and at the GREAT Project, I’m glad we can support mothers who experience this.”

“You can’t study if you have to stay home and care for the kids, I was told. Why must women give up their education or chance to work to be equal? It’s about time we were equals and shared responsibilities. I also know that many participants are concerned about childcare if they start working, but we make a deliberate effort at GREAT Project to ease some of the childcare worries.”

“I find that as mothers, we are expected to continue doing everything like: taking care of the baby, cooking meals every day, doing laundry, cleaning the house, shopping, as well as working full-time as if nothing has changed. Not to mention fulfilling other cultural obligations that come with being a daughter in law and a wife. And if it all becomes too much for me and I need a break, I’m simply told, “Oh, you really need to look after yourself?” when what I really need is more support and understanding about being a working mother. That’s why I’m glad that GREAT Project understands these issues that mothers face, and can provide actual support to help them, like offering childcare services while they are trying to better themselves”

“I’ve worked in a variety of roles assisting families, and many of the barriers I’ve seen revolve around mothers believing they lack the skills required for employment, even though being a parent teaches many transferrable skills that should be recognised, such as multitasking, time management, and so on.
Despite not being a mother, I empathise with the challenges and the biases they frequently face, and through the GREAT Project, I continue to help them realise that, while they may be unemployed, their abilities are equal to, if not greater than, those who are already employed.”

At GREAT Project, we are proud to have assisted over 700 participants (and counting) in moving towards employment or training, with many of them being women and mothers who we have helped to ‘Break the Biases’ they were up against!

If you know someone who has had some of these experiences, or if you work with someone who is having difficulty returning to work or education, please get in contact with us.