Monday, January 18, 2010

interesting article on women’s return to work in Germany

A colleague of mine, who works full time, recently said to me that she thinks she is more patient with her son than she would be if she stayed home. Because she sees him less, she values the time more and utilizes it better. She told me how she took her son to the doctor’s and the stay-at-home mothers she saw there seemed tired and frazzled, having to deal with their children’s antics constantly.

I think it’s probably a similar situation for me. If I was home all the time, I think I’d need to distract or diver River a lot, both to get things done and to have a little time for myself. When I have the time I need to work and to have some time for myself, I can spend more of the time I have with him on quality interactions. Of course, sometimes I have to cook dinner or get something else done, but I’m usually calm and patient. As long as I only have one tantrum per day max to deal with, I can handle it.

It seems in Germany too, more women are wanting this space for themselves and their professional achievements. I used to work in Germany. Women were given a lot of power and able to rise to high levels. But that was generally only if they didn’t have children. It was hard for women to have children and remain in the company. The expectation seemed to be that they would stay home for at least the first three years.

At the same time, Germany has great parental leave laws that allow either parent to stay home with pay for quite a long time (a year?). A good male German friend of mine stayed home with his daughter for the first 9 months while his wife went back to work. She liked her job better than he did. He took a professional break, becoming a full-time dad. Then he put her into daycare and started his own company.

It’s interesting how the Germans have so many more resources for choice at their disposal, yet struggle culturally with women balancing it all. And when there is that cultural struggle, that will be present in the hiring managers, which can affect a woman’s ability to find the job she wants.

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