Over-sharing or double-bind for working mums?
Hi Dorothy – I was recently taken to task by my manager for telling a new business contact (not commercial) via email that I had been busy because it was “back to school” time. I then overheard a male colleague say exactly the same thing with no comment at all made. What do you think? Is that fair? Sonya, Washington
Hi Sonya There are a couple of issues here. If you are working in education, or an education-related sector (school supplies or services, for example) or if you are a student yourself, then clearly the upturn in workload experienced by the start of the academic year could meaningfully be shared. However, I have the impression you are not.
From my point of view, your personal/family routines and schedules (this is not an emergency) should not really be relevant professionally, unless you know the contact socially and have the sort of established relationship where the sharing of personal news is part of your business interaction. If it’s a new contact as you say, it may not have been appropriate. It’s certainly not relevant if used to explain, or cover, a business delay or other professional issue. My observation is that women can get into “mummy mode” very early in a business relationship and for some people this can mean over-sharing.
If the feedback is not related to the fact that the contact is new, but more connected to the double-bind of the “daddy syndrome” where your male colleague is concerned, then no, I don’t think it’s fair. Men who show they are actively engaged in childcare activities tend to be viewed more sympathetically than women with the same or even greater childcare roles. This happens ironically even when men deal with women. I experienced this myself recently when male and female service providers could not make appointments because of issues with their children. I was aware of registering almost automatic sympathy with the man (ahh… so cute) and I try to be mindful of these biases.
Do I think this is right? No – it’s just another sub-conscious bias that is part of our everyday lives. I would suggest raising the issue with your boss, to establish what was behind his comment. In a relatively lighthearted way, I would also remind him of what happened with your colleague so at least there is an awareness that it’s going on!
Found that interesting?
Learn more about our services
Make your dreams a reality with a professional evaluation of your career to date.
The evidence is in. More women in your company can deliver 35% greater financial returns. (Catalyst)
Career Management Basics for Strugglers and Jugglers
June 15th Learn how to identify your transferable skills
June 22nd Build a strong network
June 29th Raise your visibility
If you would like to join the live recording of these sessions please contact [email protected] for the Zoom Link
Dates for the Diary
June 10th - Corporate Workshop: Build your Personal Board of Directors
We have Remote Learning Programs available
Check out our exciting portfolio of offerings to support your business in upskilling and competence building for your teams, to address the unprecedented challenges that women face in this new totally a digital world.
Download and listen free podcasts
Research shows a link between emotional intelligence and career success. It’s not a natural talent as people quite often believe but it can be improved with practice so here are 5 signs of a high EQ
Delphine Lescole launched a short survey to collect corporate businesses’ impressions, and explore more specifically the subject of Diversity and Inclusion corporate partnerships in cultural organisations. She is targeting specifically working members of companies using corporate sponsorship as a promotional tool.
The next piece of professional awkwardness could very well be around one of the timeless social greetings – the future of the handshake.