Being female in the UK is much better than being female in several other parts of the world. We are able to drive cars and receive an education just as good as any mans, and we are encouraged to pursue a career, if we so choose to do so. However, there are downsides to having a career, and being female, in the UK.
- Unequal pay: It doesn’t affect us all, but enough of us for this to still be an issue. As of now, women are working for free until the end of the year, they have already worked enough to earn their yearly wage, but many men in the same job have not, because they earn more than women. The decision not to make it compulsory for businesses with over a certain number of employees to publish the difference between male and female wages is a huge step back in the fight for equal pay.
- Being female in a male dominated industry: A man and his son are in a car crash. The son needs surgery. In the operating theatre the surgeon walks out and says ‘I can’t operate on this patient, he’s my son’ How is that possible? I’m sure we’ve all heard that one before haven’t we? Again, it doesn’t happen to all of us, but many women who choose to pursue a career are working in male dominated industries. Journalism, Politics and the technology industry (such as start-ups) are just a few of the careers that are particularly male dominated. Many women in male dominated professions have to put up with sexism on a daily basis, from comments about their appearance, to people assuming they are less qualified than their male counterparts such as being mistaken for the tea lady, or a secretary.
- Being asked about whether you want a family: When you decide you want to pursue a career, you are then bombarded with questions about whether you want a family or not. Because still, in 2015, many people don’t think you can have both. Having to have the conversation four or five times a family gathering can become very tiresome, very quickly.
- Making the decision about whether to have a family: Of course, the questions will get to you at some point and you will feel like you have to make the decision to have a family or to continue with your career. Maternity leave is a long time and many women feel that they aren’t valued as much when they come back to work. You also have to make sure that you have enough money for childcare, and that you’re okay with not seeing your children as much as mothers who may have decided to stay at home.
- Making the decision to not have a family: Not wanting children isn’t a crime, though society sometimes makes us feel like it is. This means you have to put up with the judgement you will inevitably get when you tell people you don’t want children, and would much rather focus on being the CEO of a company. It’s more than okay to have your career as your baby. Just be ready for the judgement when you tell people that.
- Going back to work after children: Trying to continue your career after having children can be very difficult, particularly as many women feel like they are resented for going off and having children, or leaving early to pick their kids up from school, or having time off when one of them is sick. This doesn’t just come from men and can come from other women who do not have children, whether by choice or not, and this can make it hard for a working mother to feel valued in their role.
- Balancing life and work: This can be difficult for everyone, especially for men and women who have families. Except it is socially more acceptable for a man to spend less time with his family, whether he wants to or not. For a woman, however, not so much. There are a number of studies that have been conducted with conflicting results about whether children are negatively affected by a mother who spends a lot of time working. Women are expected to be in multiple places at once, and are judged if they aren’t.
- Constantly having to fight all of the things mentioned above, whilst trying to move up the career ladder: Men don’t have to worry about whether they’re being judged for focusing on a career, nor are they worried about being paid less than their female colleagues. When a woman decides to pursue a career, she is also having to deal with the above problems, making life even more difficult.
- Cost of Childcare. An average person can’t afford full-time childcare cause it is so expensive which can create up to a four year gap for a woman away from work unless she has access to other solutions. In many other countries like the ones in Scandinavia for example childcare is affordable to everyone so no one is forced to leave their career and loose their income when having a child.