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Maternity Leave? Not if You Want to Stay on Career Track


Guest blogger Ronda Kaysen: Here's a surprise: Women on track to be top business executives will lose their footing if they take time off to have kids.

A recent survey of headhunters for top firms found that women who spend time recouping after the birth of their babies lose out in the corporate rat race. "They should return to work as quickly as possible or give up on having children altogether," the Daily Mail reports.

Well, well, well -- isn't this a grim (and totally predictable) bit of "news"? It's actually nothing new that power career women put their jobs before their families. Tina Brownfamously edited from her hospital bed after giving birth, and Bonnie Fuller counted contractions during a boardroom meeting. She delivered a baby girl seven days before she delivered her first issue of Cosmopolitan, making final edits at her kitchen table with a newborn in her arms.

Surveys like this are totally baffling. And this one is especially rich with infuriatingly ridiculous quotes, like this one from an unnamed source: "I think there are two types of businesswomen today: one that gets to a certain level of seniority and then has a family, and those who put their career ambitions at the forefront of their lives and choose not to have a family at all."

This is news? I'd say most people already know that to make it to the pinnacle of a career, you have to sacrifice a lot of other things in your life. The same goes for men of that caliber, too, only no one says much about the men who give up having a family life to be CEOs.

The real issue -- the one that affects most working women -- is that it is very hard to juggle any job and a family. Most working women I know aren't vying for Bonnie Fuller's post; they just want a career that pays the bills, gives them satisfaction and still allows them to see their kids.

No matter where an employee is on the corporate food chain, most work environments are entirely unfamily-friendly. (I only have to mention this country's abysmal concept of maternity leave.) For many employers, the "work/life balance" translates to all work and no life, regardless of your job title.


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