Newsflash? Working Moms Work Late

Posted by: Jena McGregor on May 7, 2008

It’s Mother’s Day this weekend, and that occasion prompted the staffing service Adecco to release a survey about working moms working late. I’m not sure this qualifies as news—is anyone surprised that working moms are just as likely as non-parents to work late and respond to e-mails after hours? What was surprising to me was that one-third of workers say they would be less likely to ask a working parent to work late.

I’m not a working parent myself, so I may get flamed for this comment. But the implication of that survey result is that there are some people who would ask non-parents to work late over a working parent. That sentiment bothers me. As a non-parent, I’d hate to get loaded up with extra work. And because working late sometimes means getting on challenging, deadline-intensive projects that could have career payoff, I’d hate to not be offered them just because I’m a working mom (again, if I was one). I might have ready access to a babysitter, or a spouse who could cover for me. I might be able to do it later that night from home, after the kids were put to bed. And of course, I might not.

We’re all adults here. In an ideal environment, working parents would feel free to say no when they’re asked to work late if they can’t, without repercussions. But the implication that some people avoid asking working mothers to do things—and therefore, causing them to lose out on some opportunities—isn’t a good thing, either.

(To celebrate Mother’s Day, I’ve linked to a bunch of Working Moms/Parents blogs I found through a quick Google search. How these folks have time to blog, work, and care for kids is impressive!)

Reader Comments

Gwalton AT domuskids DOT org

May 7, 2008 4:54 PM

We've just been discussing this with the female leadership group we have at our Stamford CT nonprofit (www.domuskids.org). We're a mix of single & childless, single with kids, married & childless, and married with kids. We work with homeless and disadvantaged kids, so it's obviously not 9 to 5. We admit to the "don't ask her, she won't be able to do it" mindset at times--it's impractical for the chaperone of the overnight camping trip or overnight group home shift to cancel when babysitting falls through. But those without kids sometimes feel that childless women are assumed to have unlimited free time to take on extra work--and thereby feel expected to say yes. It can be perceived as "your busy life as a single person isn't as important as the busy life of a mom." Having said all this, it's *barely* an issue. Luckily, we have lots of women in leadership positions, are very open to discussing and addressing things of this nature, and are very solution-oriented. I can see this being a tough issue in workplaces that are not as open to dialogue as ours.

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