If motherhood costs women a third of their salary what motivates some many mothers to change career?August 23, 2016
The institute of fiscal studies have produced a report revealing that mothers earn on average 33% less than men 12 years after their first child is born. They concluded that for mid and highly educated women the gender wage gap hasn't changed in the last 20 years. The report suggests that time taken off and part time working could be mean that mums miss out on promotions and experience. Prior to reading this article I had been thinking about what motivates mums in terms of their career and had even published a poll on my Facebook group. My question would be are mums in this position due to choice?
Many mums want to, and do, change career after they have had children. A straw poll of my friends with kids showed that 75% of them had wanted a change after they had kids, this ranged from more flexible working to a complete change. Some of my friends and peers left their high flying city jobs to be stay at home mums, some stayed in the same field but wanted more flexibility and some retrained and now have a completely different career.
As I am sure I have mentioned in previous posts (okay it's a kind of becoming my trademark I know) when we become mothers our priorities change. Yes, for some women who are very career focused and this is a huge part of their identity, they go back to their previous role after children and are very happy in this position. I am not dissing them as that is right for them and works for their family, some of my most contented friends are in this bracket – they have always had an identity as a top lawyer / doctor / banker / entrepreneur and this is still very much intact and they make their family work alongside their career. However, I would say that these women are in a minority, the majority of us seem to have a motivation to do well in our careers and to have the self-worth (and income) from working we strive for something different post babies.
Just as our babies, bodies and brains are all different what motivates mummies especially when it comes to careers is different. When looking at motivation it seems that a lot of mums are motivated by wanting to spend more quality time with their children and then looking for something that “fits in” around them. Other mums are keen to keep the identity that their career gives them but may want to work in a slightly different field or more flexibly. Realistically many mums are not motivated by money, so they may choose not to go for promotions or to work more flexibly so that they can have time with their children or a better work life balance. In addition, the cost of child care is so high in many places (especially London) that a higher salary doesn't always equate to more money.
For me, the biggest motivators are: spending more time with my children, being able to provide for my children and feeling that my career is fulfilling emotionally and intellectually. To tick all these boxes is challenging but I believe it is possible. I spoke to a lot of different people about what I could do and what would most fit my skills and experience, then through investing in coaching I was able to really streamline what was important to me and what my goals where. Throughout this process I committed to starting my own business as a coach. This sounds easy but it was two years in the making, I had to do lots of training (and me being me – also motivated by feeling credible and the security qualifications give you) I signed up to a lot of training – by this time next year I will probably be one of the most qualified coaches out there! I also realised that I had to train in other areas so when I was pregnant with number 2 I was going to weekend courses in coding, web development and entrepreneurship. I had to sacrifice spending time with my child to build a business that would provide me with more time to spend with her in the future, the irony was not lost on me. I am now working around my maternity leave to build and develop my existing business, it is a balancing act and makes you question your priorities every day but I believe that for me this is the right thing to do.
I think it is empowering that as mums we now have more choice when it comes to our career, some of the larger accountancy firms, banks and law firms are becoming clued up to the “mummy brain drain” and offer a range of different options for those mums to return to work. Flexible working is becoming more and more common and there has been a surge in mumtreperenuers setting up their own business. My dream is that all women will have the choice of working in the way that they want to and demanding a salary equitable to that of men. Changing your career can be scary and intimidating, with the support of a coach you can feel in control of the changes. Equally starting your own business is one of the most anxiety inducing things most of us have ever done, but there is no reason that if you do you should be earning a lower salary than you were before. Many mums have found that starting their own business unlocks higher earnings as well as meeting lots of their other wants.