Conciliating work and family is an issue many women face, most of the times converting them into “Superwomen”. This happens especially at the beginning of motherhood when they struggle to balance professional growth with taking good care of their children.
Nowadays, the role of “working mothers” in many countries is protected by labor laws on equality. These standards allowed the conciliation between labor and family life to become a right to both working women and men, promoting the balance of family responsibilities and avoiding any discrimination based on its exercise.
Nonetheless, what happens many times is not that women cannot manage schedules, responsibilities or workload. It’s rather that they feel doubtful whether they will live up to it.
We talk about conciliation or combination we are not referring solely to work-life balance, we are talking about many life roles: employee, woman, mother, daughter, friend, etc. Conciliation means not to give up on being oneself and to play the different roles that determine one’s identity. Above all, conciliation means to be capable and have the drive to grow as a person.
There are two types of conciliation: logistical and mental, which allow the balance between the inner and the outer self. Work and children facets seem like the most demanding ones. Women are mothers 24/7 and, in some cases, to have an important position within the job can also be very demanding. Most of the time, mothers choose to spend quality time with their children instead of quantity time. This means to be present during important life events. Mental conciliation means, for instance, explaining to children why people need to work.
On the other hand, to reach logistical conciliation, one can have a job close to home and/or have children’s school near the workplace. Many mothers also agree that without external support it would be impossible to face all the tasks they have. Dividing household chores with the partner, the grandparents’ role, having a babysitter and housemaid are some examples of external help.
Furthermore, the company can also give support, offering, for instance, flexible schedules to arrive and leave the office, reduced-hour schedule, possibility of buying holidays and/or leave of absence, teleworking, prioritize results instead of work hours, etc. (Technological development has been an important tool for this matter). Most companies’ support actions are based on trust. There is evidence that employees’ performance is greater when they feel thankful and engaged with the company.
Even though, little by little, these measures are permeating into labor practice, there is still a lot of work to do until they become the rule rather than the exception. Nevertheless, it’s a fact that there is a lot of social and cultural improvement regarding the role of women in society. Nowadays, technological development has helped promoting gender equality.
Women are better off today but, even if we are still far from equality, if we look back into history, it is certain that the remaining path is now shorter than the one already traveled.