Can Women Really Have it All?

1st September 2016

Posted In: WMB Living | FYI
Shona McManus

A new study by one of Ireland’s leading recruitment consultancies, Osborne, has found that over two thirds of working Irish mothers believe it is possible to ‘have it all’ and juggle the work/life balance successfully.

A question that men rarely get asked, but one that women regularly do, Osborne wanted to find out more about women’s views on this issue and so surveyed 926 working women from across Ireland. 62% of the women surveyed are working mothers, with almost half working 40 hours a week.

Childcare problems and children being sick have caused over half of women surveyed issues at work, with 42% saying that although they try to juggle work and home, they often feel that either the quality of their work or the quality of their parenting has suffered. 75% state that flexible hours and less expensive childcare would contribute to an easier work/life balance, as on average, after completing a 40 hour week in the workplace, nearly half of working mums then take on sole responsibility for the workload at home.

80% believe having children affects how women participate in the workforce and 64% stated that having a family hampers a woman’s career progression, with a further 47% believing that being a working mother and of a certain age (56%), affects the likelihood of landing a dream job. Almost half of those surveyed have never asked for a raise or a promotion. Are women really confident in their role as working mothers and do they perceive their value in the workplace as less than others?

Commenting on the results, Shona McManus, CEO of Osborne, said: “There are a number of working mothers on our Osborne team, with several of them working four day weeks. This does not stop them achieving what others achieve in a five day week. I believe this is down to higher productivity levels, higher efficiency in business, being more focused and being able to prioritise, which proves it is possible to balance motherhood and a career.

I myself am a single working mother and believe that we can have it all. It comes down to focusing on what is important, being efficient, having good childcare and having a stress outlet (for instance I run). Then it is possible to be the best mum, best businesswoman and best work colleague you can be. I recommend offering flexibility to all of your team, not just working mums (or dads). Take a more rounded approach and offer flexibility where you can.”

Head of HR and a leader in her profession, Roslyn O’Shaughnessy of the Irish Management Institute added: ‘We have seen the number of women successfully participating in IMI executive education programs increase markedly in the last few years. With approximately 45% of participants’ female, these women are adding an increased dynamism not only in the classroom but also, back in their workplaces. This year, IMI is also delighted to participate in the 30% Club, the initiative to help achieve a minimum of 30% of women on FTSE-100 boards. A number of colleagues are participating both as mentors and participants. We aim to support all women in their roles, at home, at work and those who choose to juggle both.’

Among the issues facing working women, gender discrimination was very low on the list. 77% of working Irish women believe that men and women are treated equally and 65% state the pay gap between men and women does not exist in their sector. However, there is some discrimination between working mums and other female colleagues. 45% surveyed believe that their workload increased due to the strict timing schedules of working mums in their workplace, and over a third find it unfair that working mothers take time off or have more flexibility.