Today, I got an email from work. It both annoyed and upset me. Being a teacher, at around this time of the year, I review my annual performance management. Being off work because of maternity leave, I checked with my manager if we could have a meeting about it, as I wanted to apply for a promotion.
And you know the answer? I can’t apply for it. Pourquoi? Because in order to apply for the pay progression I want, I need to have done a continuous service of 26 weeks during the last academic year. Having been on maternity leave for 9 months to look after my baby, I have only completed about 12 weeks or so before leaving the school.
Gutted. I can apply for it, but I have to wait next September.
Do you want to know what I make of this rule? C’est de la merde! My first thought when I got the email? ‘How many bloody weeks have I worked in the school before I got pregnant?! Bloody more than 26 and my exam results were always good’.
That’s not fair. Because I am a woman and I decided to have a baby, I can’t go up the ladder.
But that’s the rule. End of. I know what you might think ‘Hold on Frenchie Mummy, you’ve been off work for 9 months and you are hoping to have a promotion now? Other people are working harder than you right now!’
To that, I would respond two things:
- Being a SAHM is a full-time job. Trust me. I used to think it was a holiday before doing it and it’s not! I am up at 6am and don’t go to bed before 11pm every day. So don’t give me this nonsense.
- And what about all the things I have done for my school over the years I have been working there?
I never asked for anything. I was barely off sick. I would have to be really bad to stay a day at home! My boss would literally have to send me back à la maison if I was too sick!
I’ve done it all. I stepped in to go on a trip at the last minute, I did many interventions and extra sessions with students to make sure they met their benchmarks… And so many other stuff I won’t bore you with because it’s not what I want to discuss here.
The point is because I am a woman and decided to be a mummy, I am yet penalised. I have never been the kind of woman who wanted to move up the ladder. Being a Head of Department or a Principal has never been part of my plans. I am happy just to teach (she says when we all know that those days, a teacher has so many other roles: counsellor, pedagogue, social worker…)
But Beyonce is a bloody liar when she says that girls run the world! It’s bullshit! (Sorry, I have very much been controlling myself so far… It had to happen).
I used to be one of those naïve women who ideally thought that they could have it all: the house, the baby, the fabulous husband and the career. Wait, I forgot some other super important stuff: le chic, le vin, the money, the sex and the gorgeous body.
Looking back at this list, I pretty much got it all to be honest. Only missing the house so far…? And I am super lucky, as I also have an extra: l’humour! That’s very important to live happily!
Let’s be serious! I am not writing a witty post about my amazingness today… I am writing about feminism. I am going to burst your lovely bubble here. If you want to have a family, stop dreaming about running the world like Beyonce and other fabuleuses ladies would like to make you think!
Girl Power? You bet! I am part of this generation and strongly believe that I am in control of my life. I am not the cleverest nor the prettiest, but I know what I want, what I really really want.
And the email I received today just put it all back into perspective. I am not stupid. When I attended my first KIT day, I was quick to realise that it was not the same anymore. They replaced me with a young bird and the school kept running fine even though the witty Frenchie had temporarily left the boat! The dynamic has changed and I am fully aware that it will be different when I am back to work.
But why is it that we, ladies can’t have it all? Because I had a baby, I am part of a different gang, one that is far from being cool… The kind where you see people stressed out, trying to cope with everything. A group where people want to believe that they are still rocking it when it’s obvious that they are not…
Let’s be honest ladies, we think we got it good and that our grandmothers fought for our rights! Don’t make me laugh… We are exhausting ourselves, pretending we can do it all: run the house like a goddess, work hours like a slave and still enjoy every single moment with our little ones…
Oh and let’s not forget that we need to stay fit and happy with our body…
Women are equal, right? Not sure about that now…
Take an example. I was talking with a friend some weeks ago. He owns a little company and was looking for a new assistant. He explained to me that in the end, he decided to employ a man. He thought that it would be better for the kind of job he was advertising and even admitted that he didn’t want to put up with problems.
Frenchie Mummy could not repress herself: ‘Problems? What kind of problems would you have with a bird?’ And him to explain that with his tiny business, he could not afford to have his assistant to get pregnant and have to pay her compensation while he would have to employ someone else at the same time. I am not judging him. He is a good bloke and I understand that he can’t afford this kind of risks… He had a family to look after too. But I bet you it happens all the time.
So do we really have it better than our predecessors who used to stay at home while the men would be the breadwinner? I am not sure anymore and trust me, I consider myself as a feminist…
Girls don’t run the world. They love to think they do because the media and pop industry tells them so, but deep down, how many of us give it up all to be mummies? And then not feel at the top of the game because we are not able to do it all?
As you may have noticed in my posts lately, I am questioning a lot my role as a mummy and my return to work.
I would love to hear your views on this ladies. I know that a lot of you strongly believe in women’s rights. Maybe you can restore Frenchie Mummy’s faith and tell her that she will continue to rock, both at home and at work in the future months?
Do you believe that it is possible to have it all? Or do you feel that it’s all an illusion? Did you ditch your career to look after your family?
It’s definitely not fair that you seem to have to start from the bottom, or at least lower than you were before, when you go back from maternity leave. You have to prove your worth, again, when you’ve already proved it once. Your situation seems particularly unfair as it’s not your fault that you’ve been away for 26 weeks! I hope you get your promotion Frenchie xx
I totally ditched my career to look after my family. I had a really bad experience with an awful boss! It caused me to quit my job but luckily I found a new one working 2 days a week and that worked for me whilst the boys were young. I now work 3 days and that works for me! But when one of my kids are sick or I miss a school trip or concert the guilt does kick in. This mummy gig is hard! But now my kids are getting older it is getting easier and I have recently changed jobs and started to put more back into my career.
I don’t think you can have it all without support! I have a husband who shares the childcare and brilliant in-laws who look after my kids!
I great support from Grumpy Boyfriend and his family. They are fab. I suppose I can’t complain. My school has been really good and accepted for me to come back part-time without argument. But I am so annoyed with the system… Thanks so much for your comment. I knew you would have the righ words xx
Oh this is something I’m also feeling today. I just got my request for flexible working declined so it’s full time or nothing. Plus, to make matters worse, childcare where I live (Battersea) is astronomical so we’d have a grand total of £62 per month left over from me working full time. I’ve worked hard at school, uni and my career to date so feel weird about not going back to work, but it’s so hard to justify when the money we’ll have left over from working won’t even get me a zone 1-2 travel card!!! BBBAAAAAHHHH, successful home, career and family life?! Pull the other one!
I am so sorry to hear! Childcare is not helping either. I really wanted to go back to work to feell fully human lol but I know I won’t bring much money home… I will def apply for this promotion next year! Thanks for your great comment and I am sure you will be a fab SAHM. The career will come back to you one day x
It is such a daft rule… your previous work ethic and results should stand! Fair enough if you’d taken a sabbatical or whatever but for a baby!? Ridiculous
totally agree! But he ho, that’s life… Thanks for commenting x
When will businesses and institutions make work flexible for parents, it makes me so frustrated and angry this isn’t the case x
Totally agree with you. Very nice little chat on twitter ealier. I love discovering more about you xx
It’s not a fair world, especially for us women, but I wouldn’t wnat to be a guy! So dammit, let’s continue to make some change! ROAR!
hahaha, yeah you are right! Girl Power!!!! Thanks for reading again x
The best way we mothers can ensure this does not happen to our daughters is to teach our sons that a SAHM is not skiving at home instead of doing a “real” job. Being a full time parent (and cook, housemaid, laundress, etc.) IS a real job.
Totally agree with you. I will def teahc that to my Baba. Thanks for reading x
C’est merde, Frenchie! We women do not run the world…or we do, but “the man” is keeping us down! I am also a teacher and when I had my little miracle baby, I was faced with going back to work and having my entire paycheck go to child care. So, I took a $10k pay cut to teach online from home. I have been teaching for 13 years and have a Master’s Degree and I made more when I was a waitress. Now, I did not get into teaching for the money, but it would be really nice to be able to teach and raise a family. Fab post!
Oh god, this is terrible! I am so disguested, not only for women but also for education… And then they wonder why kids get out of school without good skills and blame it on teacher! Even there, they always cut the budget…. I hope at least you are happy being your own boss . Thanks for reading and commenting x
I wish I was my own boss, mais non. I still have bosses and work harder and longer teaching virtually. But someday! Plus I am fortunate to get paid in kisses all day by my daughter. Your post makes me think of the world my daughter is growing up in. I want ma petite to run the world someday, if she chooses! So, we will keep our fingers crossed that you will get the promotion because that will be a start!
Totally agree with you! When you research further info gender equality the results will shock you!
Great blog & post from one working mama to another ❤️
Just read yours and it’s appalling!I am so angry right now! I must calm down… It’s the weekend lol. Thanks for reading x
This is outrageous! Is it even legal to discriminate like this? Pen x #KCACOLS
well, yes it is in the conditions… LOL x
It’s ridiculous! I’m lucky that at my work even if you’re pregnant or returning from mat leave you’re still encouraged to apply for promotions, but it is probably also to do with the face that 90% of us are women and at least half have been on mat leave in the last year or are due to go on it! (My boss is convinced there must be a fertility chair somewhere on the ward because people were getting pregnant left right and centre ?) I want to work because I want to have my own income, identity, and to teach my children that women can work and have a family #KCACOLS
That’s such a shame, hope you get it next September 🙂 x
Surely they can’t do that? They definitely can’t penalise you because you’ve been on mat leave (because it only applies to women and is therefore sexual discrimination!). It IS wrong! and so hard! I am very lucky, I am able to go back part time but still I worry now that I will not be doing either properly and will feel like failing on both work and being a mum. Why do men not have these problems? My husband is great but when I suggested he take the time off, he laughed! I swear part of it is my own paranoia too but still. Great post. xx #kcacols
Well, it’s in the rules of pay progression so I suppose they can do that. I am lucky they accepted for me to come back part-time but nothing is perfect….
Eurgh!! I’d still argue you’re technically continuously working for that amount of time… not easy this ‘having it all’ lark is it?!?
It is indeed unfair how we women have to prove our worth over and over. Just the other day i was called for an interview and the new job station was far from where my family live. So that meant i had to relocate. I talked to the manager about giving me a location near home and he refused. So eventually i had to turn down the offer that was a major milestone to my career…so sad ???
Awful! it ws probably for the best. You would have not wanted to work for such a person… Thanks for reading x
You should be able to apply for any position you want, especially when you have been at the school for a while beforehand, they still know your skills.
That sucks!!! What a crap rule. Who rules the world? Hmm well sadly, I think it’s still largely a mans world. Look at all the misogyny around us and how inferior it’s possible to feel in so many scenarios as a woman. I do think it’s changing slightly and I know for certain my daughter, Elsa, would never take any crap from a man plus she is being raised to believe she can do whatever she wants so hopefully that will stick in her mind. Good luck for next September xx
I definitely think women are penalised a lot in the working world. It’s such a boys club! I really want to be a primary school reception age teacher, just need to get back to college! #KCACOLS
It sounds great! Good luck! Thanks again for commenting x
Let’s admit, managing both a career and a baby in today’s cutthroat world is very difficult. Employers have to decide for their business and its often women who have to bear the brunt.
Correct! Thanks for reading x
I was also a teacher and as my children were only 2 years apart I missed two opportunities to go up the pay scale. As you may know, I have since left but my husband, who I met at teacher training and so we have exactly the same level of experience, when up those two points. As a result, before I left, he was earning about 6 grand more than me. Definitely not fair! In any case, I couldn’t cope with teaching. Before kids it took up my whole life, and now the kids do. And I only have one life to give… Thanks so much for linking with #KCACOLS. We hope you come back next week.
I don’t think it is legal for them to do that. You HAVE been in continuous service because maternity leave counts as still being employed. You haven’t just been off on a lark or employed elsewhere. I would urge you to look into this deeper. Are you a member of a union? You could ask them for advice and to confirm that this employment condition is being properly applied to your case. ACAS might also be able to help. It seems outrageous because it’s obviously going to discriminate against any woman who takes maternity leave. It infuriates me that so many companies make it hard on women returning from leave. #kcacols
Well, I thought I was having it good as they accepted to take me part time. I will have a look into this thanks x
That is how they get us though. I also was so happy to accept flexible working that I put up with being passed over for promotion. But that didn’t make it legal or morally right.
I will have a look into it x
I will have a look into it for sure thanks for telling me . Vive la révolution! LOL
Nonsense! It’s impossible when even the people who aren’t out to get you are anti-women in their hiring decisions by assuming that pregnancy will ruin their plans. Well, guess what? We all influenced a woman’s life by being born. When will people wake up and make way for women to have families with all of the support they deserve? Sorry you have a tough time with your job!
Thanks for your nice comment, don’t worry I will be fine. I was just so disappointed about it. We are strong! x
With 4 kids 3 and under, it’s cheaper to have me be a SAHM. I know we’ve made strides in the last 50 years but we still have a long way to go for women!
So much… insane! Thanks for reading x
I know only too well how this feels! I too am in the same kind of boat as you and it sucks!! But I have come to the conclusion you can’t do it all and have now decided to enjoy my gorgeous baby and screw the company I spent 9 yrs of my life at who didn’t want to help! #KCACOLS
I am so sorry to hear and after having worked 9 years! It sucks… Thanks for reading x
Is that definitely right?! I didn’t think we could be penalised for being on maternity leave. If you’re employed (not self-employed like me) you still accrue annual leave as if you were working…so why isn’t this treated as if you’d been there too? I don’t get it! #thelist
I know, people said I should check with my union… I am not sure it’s worth it to be honest…
I’m not sure if we can ‘have it all’, but then, I’m not sure men ‘have it all’ either. My husband misses out on so much with our children because he’s the one going out to work 5 days a week. I’m not sure what the answer is though. x #KCACOLS
YOu ahve a point here, thanks for reading x
So true. I’m approaching that age where it’s suddenly occurring to me that I can’t have it all and it’s so frustrating. I know someone who got six weeks of maternity leave, but then had a preemie two months before the due date. She had to go back to work immediately after giving birth because she wasn’t allowed to split her leave in two, and she wanted to be home when the baby got home. Now, you know no woman made up that rule.
It’s terrible! She needed more time! SO unfair… Thanks for reading x
You totally talk my language! I also have been really frustrated with feminism and all it has ‘given’ us!
I can’t believe that you are not entitled to apply for a promotion just because you are on mat leave? That is crazy. Technically you are still employed whilst on mat leave so surely that should count? And as you say what about all the time and effort you put in before you went on leave? Outrageous. #KCACOLS
I would totally speak to your union or ACAS because being on maternity leave you are still employed so if you’re not eligible for promotion because of this then it is discrimination. But yeah, I agree, we women still get the bum end of the deal in a lot of respects. The small businesses not wanting to recruit women because of maternity pay always pees me off, many times I have had to educate business owners to remind them that they recoup the SMP that they’ve paid out when they submit the PAYE the next month. Sigh. Thanks for linking up to #SundayBest x
I’ve been asking myself the same question. I think as a teacher it’s harder to align yourself to the idea of being paid to look after someone else’s children when you pay someone else to look after yours. It just feels odd somehow x
I never thought about it this way before as I was not a mother but it’s so true x
I recommend you check with your Union. whilst I am not an employment lawyer, my understanding is you accrue continuous service whilst on maternity leave, the implication being you have been discriminated against on the grounds of sex. Best of luck.
Ooh I’ve had four and a half years out so if I go back now I go back at a much much lower level than when I left. The difference I have is that our choice was to leave the country to be an expat where I couldn’t work. I think that babies often halt career progression but it isn’t always because of the company I found becoming a mother has altered my mind set and made me change how I wanted to work so even if I had the option I’m not sure if I would have progressed the same. I also think there is far too much pressure to have it all!
Fair point. I am not back to work yet but it will be interesting to see how I feel about it when it happens. Thanks for your thoughful comments on my posts x