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For women with children, careers can be a tricky topic. Something to steer clear of during parent & baby coffee mornings. The sighs....stressed about going back to work, can't find the right job, stuck in a rut, the childcare problem. The word "career" itself can be pretty intimidating, maybe you don't imagine yourself with a career at all. Maybe you have simply hopped from job to job or juggled several jobs simultaneously to pay the bills. On the other hand, you might be in the career you always wanted but finding juggling family needs with professional demands an unexpected headache. You might be having an identity crisis about opting out for a while (forever???) to spend more time with the kids, or contemplating setting up your own business so you can be the boss for a change.
Careers Week is about inspiring women to see the possibility out there in the world of work. Things are changing. The economic downturn means that there are fewer vacancies, more redundancies, more competition. It has also meant more part time positions (a mixed blessing perhaps, less money but more time at home), more working from home, more freelance opportunities. The latest legislation allows all employees to ask for flexible working - that's no magic bullet (they don't have to say yes!) but it indicates a sea change, a recognition that flexibility can benefit both businesses and family life.
This week, I will be publishing features from four amazing women whom I hope will inspire you to think about your options. Everyone's circumstances are different and priorities change. But sometimes, it's good to look over the parapet and think about what could be...
On Monday, Karen Mattison MBE from Timewise will be discussing how flexible working is coming to the fore and ways for women with children to find positions that give them the flexibility they need without sacrificing their skills or salary expectations.
On Tuesday, in an excellent guest post from Emily Guille-Marrett, Founder of ReadingFairy.com, we will hear how motherhood gave her the breathing space and confidence to start her own business.
On Wednesday, Kerry Hales, a life coach specialising in empowering women to succeed, will address women who actually don't know what they want to do or are stuck in a negative head-space about their skills and talents.
On Thursday, Professor Elizabeth Rouse OBE, will examine what holds women back in applying for management positions and offers advice about how to be a successful manager while juggling family life.
On Friday, we will finally consider the elephant in the room, childcare! As childcare costs rise, we know that it is a major stumbling block for families in achieving work/life balance. Childcare should clearly be the responsibility of both parents in terms of time and costs but not everyone has a supportive partner or family to share the load. We will look at recent policy and research from the Family and Childcare Trust and consider what to think about when choosing childcare, including quality, price and convenience.
Please do join me for Careers Week and share your views. Every mother is different in terms of what she wants for herself, her kids and her relationships and the resources she has to draw on. I hope these features will at least help you think about what you really want and what you need to do to achieve it.
In the meantime, do check out my Careers page for helpful links including careers advice, recruitment agencies and childcare options.