There is a legitimate argument that, when a woman leaves the workplace to care for others, her expertise declines. However, for those who have kept up to date with the advances in their industry and/or taken courses to update their skills, it can be disheartening to find they are often offered lower-skilled positions when they get back to work.

The only comforting thought for women returning to the workplace is that their younger colleagues can also enjoy being patronised in turn by their younger colleagues. A pyrrhic victory.

Anger at the situation is useless, we need to reflect on how anger is used in the real world – from Donald Trump making yet another outrageous statement, to a losing sports team throwing punches at their opposition. It’s about throwing someone else off balance, so they won’t concentrate on the job (or issue) at hand.

Which, in the case of women, is returning to the workplace only to find that their skills are no longer wanted (note, I didn’t say needed) because:

1.     The original job is no longer there or

2.     If the job is there, it has morphed into a lower skilled/paid/status role than before.

Speaking to female friends and family who’ve had the same experience; a lot of experienced, educated women are finding that they’ve had to become self-employed.

Women are starting their own businesses in unprecedented numbers (Research conducted by Kingston University and commissioned by IPSE, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed, shows a 35.1% jump since 2008 in highly skilled professionals choosing to work independently. Of these a larger proportion are women (up 41.2%*) because of the reasons outlined above.  The figures make grim reading because women won’t have enough money in their pension pot (of self-employed women, just 12% pay into a pension*). Although self-employment for women makes good headlines, that isn’t necessarily the case when looking at the reasons behind the move.

So, on International Women’s Day we need to think about how we’re going to change the world for our daughters because,

It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.” – J.K Rowling.

So, even though the figures are gloomy, keep trying rather than “fail by default”.

*courtesy of http://prowess.org

*courtesy of https://www.ftadviser.com/2016/09/13/pensions/personal-pensions/pension-gender-gap-grows-for-self-employed-women-Ji67UoNE3kkjnSed3DpeyM/article.html

Sam Horsey is a journalist and B2B copywriter. See her work at http://samhorseycopywriting.com

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