I watched the Samantha Brick segment on 60 Minutes with my husband. As she explained why she was happy to spend her entire existence fulfilling her husband’s needs, we both looked on longingly. “I could use a wife like that,” I said. He nodded. If we could we’d invest in a full-time housekeeper so we would only have to focus on the things we enjoy, like our careers and our children. Let someone else cook and clean.
Women who earn significant salaries are more likely to be able to afford the best help. They can also afford an in-home chef, cleaner, gardener, party organizer, driver, etc. Many would have personal assistants who are paid to deal with the small stuff that distracts them from the bigger picture stuff. If they have a bad day and the balls they are juggling fall on their head, they can arrange for someone to help pick them up, clean them, massage their forehead, and then also assist in throwing those balls back up.
If they want to see their child the nanny can bring their child to them, at the very least. They don’t have to worry about shopping for groceries and then rushing home to feed and bathe their children. There is someone who can do that for them. When they arrive home at night, they may be tired but they can change and play with their child if they want to. Let’s be honest: isn’t that what money affords you?
When the media makes an example of corporate career mums like Westpac CEO Gail Kelly or Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s impending pregnancy I am insulted on behalf of the millions of career-focused mothers who do the same each day, without anyone focusing on their plight.
Very few career mums that I know feel sorry for themselves or think it’s amazing that they can work and mother. In fact, quite the opposite. It’s called life and we have chosen it. There are certainly days when many working mothers wish they could escape to a desert island for some time out but mostly they just dust themselves off, wipe the slimy gooey baby finger residue off their business suit and get back to work.
The issue is that in Australia the level of salary required to provide padding for even one of the balls is achieved by only a handful. And that’s what needs to change. The higher the salary, the more likely that a female executive can also cope with the daily demands of motherhood. It’s one of the reasons that I’m so passionate about the need to bridge the gender pay gap and increase female numbers on ASX200 Boards and at C-suite level.
Don’t feel sorry for the few women at the very top of the ASX200 tree. They are the lucky ones. They choose to pursue a rewarding career and they have been compensated well for their efforts, far in excess of the average woman who works. Similarly, women who come from wealthy families or who are married to partners with the means to alleviate some of the headache that is invariably a part of being a working mum do not need our pity when things go pear-shaped, or our cheering when it all comes together. It’s the everyday working woman who is the modern day marvel for me. This is the woman who gets it all done with very little external assistance. Let’s think about how we can help her.
Do you agree that salary can change the ball game for working mothers?