The pandemic has not only shined a light on the inequalities of women in the workplace, it also created a larger gap, especially for working mothers. Between mandatory home schooling and a lack of childcare, the workload that women bear around the house is increasing.
There have been plenty of studies and articles stating that these demands are placed unfairly mothers, have made it difficult for them to advance in their career, and have caused many mothers to drop out of the workforce entirely.
I don’t want to minimize the headaches that moms (and truly everyone) have endured over the past 20 months. However, it’s worth pointing out a few ways that the pandemic economy has actually benefitted working mothers, specifically mothers working in fintech (myself included).
The need for employees to balance work with home schooling and childcare motivated many workplaces to embrace more flexible working hours. As long as employees produce quality work, put in the necessary hours, and attend mandatory meetings, many are able to set their own schedule that works with their family.
Moms are always on call, whether to nurse a baby, help with homework, solve an argument, or change a diaper. So being able to step away from the computer to take care of pressing tasks is a huge benefit.
Remote working is the new norm
Prior to the pandemic, many workplaces were strictly against remote work, even when in-person collaboration wasn’t necessary. While commuting into an office five days a week has its benefits, it also comes with its share of difficulty. Not only does the extra time of the commute add up, but there is also more time and money spent on a professional wardrobe and makeup.
For breastfeeding mothers, long commutes are especially burdensome because the more time spent away from the baby means the more times mothers have to pump, store milk, and wash and sterilize bottles.
Meetings and conferences come to you
I included this point because of personal experience. My son was nine months old when I attended my first conference after maternity leave. Because I was still nursing, I chose to bring him with me to FinovateFall 2019 in New York. Even though I was physically at the conference, I still missed out on much of the content because I had to step out to nurse him so frequently.
In comparison, at FinovateFall 2021 last week, I was able to attend the show digitally from my home office with my newborn daughter on my lap. I was so much more present during the demos and discussions since I wasn’t running back and forth from the venue to a hotel room.
In this post-pandemic way of work, many businesses have made a point to offer digital experiences either in place of or alongside physical meetings. Now that so many more meetings and conferences offer a digital option, women do not have to miss out in the event they need to care for a sick family member or if they have a gap in childcare.
Normalizing home life
Perhaps the biggest upside of the pandemic is that it has shed a light on the full breadth of women’s duties outside of the workplace. Not only this, but colleagues are more accepting of times when family life collides with work. I’ve worked from home for 11 years, and prior to the pandemic I would have been mortified if my two-year old was audible outside of my office door on a conference call.
In this new era, colleagues and clients are much more open to home life. In fact, I’ve videoconferenced with people who not only don’t mind seeing and hearing children in the background of calls*, but they also ask me to bring them to the computer so that they can say hello to their children on the other end of the screen.
*At least within reason. Yes, children can be quite annoying sometimes.