Feminine gamification viewpoint: maternal hobby?
In our series on the research from Phillips and Hall on women in STEM another bias women have to deal with is the assumption that as soon as they have had children, that works is just a hobby. Now most men with children never experience that question.
The study found that when professional women have children, they often find themselves running into another virtual glass ceiling: their commitment and competence are questioned, and opportunities start drying up. Nearly two-thirds of the scientists with children reported running into this form of bias, across all races and ethnic groups. Women felt they were competing with men who had stay-at-home wives, and that colleagues often assumed that they would lose their drive after they had children.
I think with some gamification around organisational culture, we could potentially turn this bias on it’s head. I know a lot of mums and dads who manage to have both a family and a career. In fact I grew up with both my parents working and as a result we could have nicer holidays and experiences, so I am really grateful for it. It would be a general mindset or cultural shift to make parenting and other out of working hour responsibilities such as caring for sick family members, etc an open and accepted approach to live. I would suggest a discovery of all your department or organisations’ secret superpowers, whether that is being a fabulous mum, an awesome sports person, a brilliant carer or the amazing chef to highlight that all of us do great things outside of work.
When I ask workshop participants about their amazing facts a lot of the time having children is quoted as a major achievement and I think it is all relative to what you value in life, so I will always accept that as an awesome fact. In fact I often see mums snub that fact, because they believe it’s normal and nothing special, but for someone that has made a conscious choice for health related reasons not to have children it still seems very special to me. In Sweden male managers would be considered bad managers if they didn’t take daddy leave for their newborn child. I also had a female colleague who returned early from maternity leave and that was a total no-no for Swedish colleagues, they perceived it as bad parenting as well as bad management. So how we consider perception and achievement is what we should challenge to turn this bias around.
What other ways would you include to change this bias?