Fulfilling career ambitions and fully embracing the role of motherhood are not necessarily mutually exclusive feats, but the achievement of both rarely runs in a smoothly parallel trajectory. Surprisingly, though, it’s not just the practicalities inherent in each that complicate their simultaneous realisation; new research reveals that an outside influence – women’s partners – is making things tougher for the maternal gender to ‘have it all’ (or at least thereabouts).
A US study has found that high-achieving women are not meeting the career goals they set in their early 20s because they allow their partners’ careers to take on more importance.
Researchers interviewed 25,000 Harvard Business School graduates over several decades, and found men were much more likely to end up in senior management positions, with more responsibility.
However, it wasn’t because women had “opted out” of the workforce. Among Gen X and Baby Boomers, only 11 per cent had left careers to stay at home full-time. Most Gen X women – aged 32 to 48 – were working full time. But they were also making more unexpected sacrifices than their male former classmates, reports the National Post.
On graduation, more than half of men said they expected their careers to take precedence over their partner’s. Yet most women said they expected to have egalitarian relationships, with both partners’ work aspirations treated equally seriously.
Fast-forward a few years, and 40 per cent of those women with dreams for the future reported their spouse’s career has in fact taken priority over theirs. And of the men, more than 70 per cent now felt their career was indeed more important than their female partner’s.
Younger millennial graduates shared the same views — more than half of the men assumed their careers would take precedence over their partner’s.
Added to their pre-emptory demotions, it’s largely assumed that women will bear the brunt of childcare – whether they’re staying at home or working full-time. Some 86 per cent of men said the female partner had primary responsibility for childrearing, and among millennials, two-thirds of men assumed their partner would do most of the kiddy-management.
The findings aren’t the first of their kind; another recent study showed that men are happier when their significant others stay at home and take on the housewife role.
Still; the life you planned for not quite turning out that way doesn’t automatically equate with unhappiness – perspectives change along with circumstances; what’s your experience as a working woman, wife and mother?