So the government has said that mothers should go back to work to help the ailing economy. If every mother who wanted to was in a job, the economy would be something like ten percent bigger than it is, and that can only be a good thing. Yes?
Apparently, some of the problem of women not working after having children can be solved by encouraging them to study science and engineering and make sure they get started out in good careers. I did that. I have a physics degree. Before having children I was a software engineer. I was earning £40 an hour, so in the year before our oldest child was born I took home about seventy thousand pounds (less rather a lot of tax). Funnily enough, this has not led to me being a working mum.
I always knew I would give up work when I had children. I didn’t want to have children, and only see them for long enough to tuck them up at night. I believe that the best start you can give a child involves time. Lots of it. I was lucky enough to have a husband able and willing to support us all financially. I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. (Except on a bad day, of course, when I’d have bitten off your hand for a job that meant I could sit in a nice quiet office and drink an entire cup of coffee before it got cold.)
I was a little bit depressed after the birth of my second child. That was the point at which I realised that there was absolutely no chance of getting back into a job anything like the one I had had. Once you are out of IT for more than a year or so, that seems to be it. My most likely next job seemed to be as a supermarket shelf stacker. So I started a business.
This is one of the other points the report made today. Women should be more entrepreneurial. That’s another tick for me. Science, engineering, good job pre-children, start up business. It was fun and I learnt a lot, but it never made enough for the hours to be worth it. I had a toddler who hated TV because she knew that when I put the TV on she was going to be neglected for an hour while I packed up parcels!
Going back to work has been creeping up my list of important things to do. Now that Mr 5 is at school I wouldn’t feel so bad working full time, but how? I have been retraining as an accountant, but I am in that position where all my CV demonstrates is that I have not had a ‘proper’ job for more than a decade. For the sort of jobs I am qualified for, I first have to convince them that a 38 year old will be just as good a choice as the person 20 years younger they were expecting to apply. How can I convince the bored person glancing at the 26th CV of the day that actually I would be great, despite the fact I have no recent employment to demonstrate the fact I am quite capable?
If the (very expensive, I’m sure) government report can answer that question, I would be most grateful.