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2 posts categorized "womanhood"

July 08, 2008

When Women Tread Water

Should workplaces be organized according to marital status or parenting status? It’s a question that has dogged me ever since I returned to the workforce after uni. You’re a young woman, you have a child and enter the workforce, and you’re immediately different to the other similar aged women you work with. Their priorities differ from yours. You’re more concerned about how your child is doing at daycare, and they’re concerned about what sale they’ll bag at Myer during lunch. Friday nights differ as well. Your Friday evening may mean relaxing watching Lost or something, or enjoying some extra sleep while your workmates are in the middle of a club or pub crawl.

New mothers tread enough water as it is. When they enter or return to the workforce, they’re not merely treading water. The experience can feel like negotiating a killer wave. A tsunami. There are good days and bad days. On a good day, every part of your daily routine goes to plan, everything from managing the laundry loads to your baby sleeping through the night. I was in a different plane at university. Most of my colleagues were fresh from high school, experimenting with relationships and balancing their college load with their nights at the uni bar. As a full-time student, and parent of a toddler, I hadn’t set foot in the uni bar. I didn’t see the point. My colleagues were on a different plane. They were experiencing their social debut as adults. The thing is this, once you are a parent and you're female, and also happen to be a single parent, the sensation of treading water doesn't stop after your child enters school. It continues. Children grow and expenses increase. While this post may seem biased toward women, in all my years in the workforce, single male parents were a rare sight, and if they were single parents from divorces, they weren't the primary caregivers, only having weekend access, so they didn't really wrestle with all the things their former partners wrestled with. They had five days a week as single men. They didn't stress about picking up their kid/s from childcare, and only went into parent mode on weekends.

I'm more sensitive about the topic because I've been there as a parent and a single parent, and have been on the receiving end of attitudes or prejudice relating to my status from others - ironically more women than men. I've been overlooked for promotions. I've had requests go unanswered. I've had promises unfulfilled, and it wasn't based on my lack of productivity or any sort of incompetence. It wasn't because I was female, because the females around me didn't suffer, but the notion of being a parent can be a negative for some small minded managers. For example, you're a parent and you have other priorities. You're not going to drop your child's school recital to work back three hours because your manager 'says so' or demands it in order to feel great about herself or cover her butt. You're not going to miss your child's birthday dinner because some incompetent assistant managing director has no idea about organization and assertiveness - and when you speak up and assertively state your view, then you're immediately added to the 'sin bin,' such as what happened to me after I angrily expressed my views on an assistant managing director's (male) incompetence at the publishing company I worked at. It was my son's then birthday, and all of a sudden he told us that we had to stay back because he told a group of sales representatives that he extended their monthly deadline. I was ropeable, and didn't hide the fact that I'd say something about it to the managing director. In short, I didn't receive any promotion and my interest in company sponsored courses was always ignored or put on the backburner. How dare I express my irritation at being asked to stay back, until 7pm, on the night of my son's birthday? Which brings me to the subject of employee compatibility. It is difficult to work alongside people who have no idea of logic or compromise within reasonable limits. Single (read: minimal domestic responsibilities and greedy) adults don't go well with parents in the workplace. They're like a match made in hell. The other terrible match is the male manager (who many have kids) who has a stay-at-home wife. He doesn't oversee the bulk of the domestic stuff, so he'll never 'get it.' I can't say it has been easy. It hasn't been easy but it certainly has been an interesting learning experience for me, but I can't say that it has further enchanted me.

Continue reading "When Women Tread Water" »

June 30, 2008

I Am Woman....and?

"You know, this shrinky dinky stuff is doing my head in. He does not get me and probably thinks that I ought to have concrete goals -like other women, or the gals at the hellhole. I'm a freak," I said. I'm not the type to sit there discussing or defining emotions so they fit into social binomial theory, this or that crap.
"Well, you had to go to him," housemate replied, bemused by it all.
"Remember the time he asked me how I felt, whether or not I felt anxiety when work cropped up each time I received email updates from the fluoro hellhole?"
He nodded.
"It's not anxiety. It's anger. Is anger so evil that it has to be substituted with anxiety?''
"What is it that makes you angry – apart from the job."
"Now you're sounding like my shrink," I replied, "it's simple. I don't do cloistered gray office environments rather well. I'm afraid I'm corporately challenged and before you look at me like an alien, this is what it is. I know I ought to play the game, get with the program, but the idea of buckling down and going through the motions makes me mad."

I can definitely vouch for the reduction of anger in my current life and I'm not going to hand all the credit to the Z drugs. I've been away from the cage of corporate control headquarters for six months. I reached the point where I thought I was living a Maxwell Smart kind of life, fart arsing about and hanging on the skin of my teeth. It couldn't be any worse. What could be worse, professionally, than reaching the point of knowing that all you'll be doing is pushing paper for the remainder of your adult life if you don't speak up and put things straight?

Continue reading "I Am Woman....and?" »

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