Career or childcare, is maternity break a curse for women employee?
It is an unfortunate dilemma faced by every working woman with a baby on the way. Not all women can get back to work immediately after maternity. Some consider taking a long sabbatical, as they want to be with the child during the first few years. For some, maternity leave may not be enough for varied health and personal reasons. Returning to work means leaving the child with a stranger. It is important to find high-quality childcare. In India and other countries, a lot of women take extended breaks. While you are happy with your child, you are uncertain about career.
Taking a break can be liberating, but getting back to work can have its own set of challenges. The main hurdle is lack of self-confidence. There will be questions whether the skills have outdated in the fast changing job market. It becomes impossible to convince companies to hire you.
It is a harsh fact that most companies do not hire return-to-work mothers. Most companies think that the candidate would have lost track. It is not the maternity break, but it is the gap which is the main issue. Also, companies want to hire up to date and enthusiastic people to work for them. Unfortunately, this is a serious problem. Women are discouraged from returning to work due to companies’ expectations and competitive world.
When I took a 3-year maternity break from the job it was a real challenge to get hired. I was not even invited for job interviews. Most companies were looking for younger and experienced candidates. The struggle was real, I was jobless and expenses were mounting. I had self-doubts about getting an interview call, about my profile getting attention. There lot of roadblocks which were not easy to tackle. At last, I was hired by one company, and I was offered much lesser than the company norms. I had to accept the offer and I worked really hard to make a career in my second innings. It has definitely slowed down increments and promotions and definitely affected my earning potential. Not just me 9 out of 10 women face problems returning to work after having children. Half of the population feels guilty about leaving the child at home and struggle to balance time between childcare and work.
Some lucky women have flexible working hours and work from home options.
However the situation is empathetic, there is a silver lining for those who want to see it. The break can help a candidate to upskill herself, Women can keep themselves updated with the latest from the industry. Build a powerful profile, which can catch the employers’ attention. Learn and practice your strengths and weaknesses. No matter how well you prepare, taking a sabbatical means there will be changes. Though the new mothers and mothers on break may not have as much time, it is important to use what they have.