Do childless career women suffer because their co-workers think they’re cold and strange? According to the May 18, 2009 Daily Mail online site, that’s what Dr. Caroline Gatrell found in researching her book Embodying Women’s Work. Gatrell, from the Lancaster University Management School in the UK, reported that women without children are often seen as lacking “an essential humanity.” Plus, if they’re of child-bearing age, their bosses don’t promote them because they might still get pregnant.
Okay, but how about all those moms trying to juggle child-care and work and getting turned down for promotions and dissed by co-workers because they can’t work late and have to dash out to pick up the kids at pre-school?
It appears to be a damned if you do and damned if you don’t situation, doesn’t it?Whether you’re a mother or not, ownership of a working uterus appears to make you suspect. If you’ve got children, you can’t be totally loyal to the company. If you haven’t, either you’re going to spring a baby on them one of these days or you’re just plain weird. Is this the 21st century or not?
Personally, I have certainly experienced sexism and ageism, but I don’t think I have missed out on anything at work because I did not have children. I did have some moms drop their work on me because of their mothering needs. But I also saw moms who worked more hours than I did.
I’m a clock-watcher. I admit it. What employers really needed to worry about with me was that I would always rather be doing my freelance writing and music than working for anyone else. In essence, my books are my babies. And if I was in the middle of writing a song when it was time to go to work, I was going to be late. The song took precedence.
What do you think? Do you believe employers see childless women, especially those who are childless by choice, as heartless and odd? Have you experienced moms slacking because of their kids? Have you noticed women getting stuck in their careers because they carry ticking time bombs in their bellies? Let’s talk about it.
8 thoughts on “Childless women cold and odd???”
Hi! I'm reading your blog because I have hardly ever thought about people who choose to be childless. In my social context, it was hardly an issue. You grew up got married had children, etc… I don't think we even considered having a choice & I know there was a certain prejudice against people who chose to be childless. For instance the ignorant perception people have of the childless woman/man as being cold & strange. But, lately I'm becoming acquainted with more & more people who didn't have children by choice & I might add, who are standing up for themselves. Consequently, I want to have a broader understanding of the issues involved, myself.
I think it is high time to tackle this particular prejudice. I also think it has come about because of the liberating work place environment. Where your own worth as a productive person take precedence over your worth as a viable baby making factory.
It is a fascinating subject & thanks for blogging about it!
BTW, I also live in the beautiful state of Oregon. I am also the mother of three Children.
I am 46, female, and live in Australia. I have never married nor do I have children….. it just didn't happen and I find myself wondering why.
Most of my relationships only lasted 2 – 3 years. I lived with one guy – one only – and it was a disaster and had a breakdown over it. So, I am still single, and it's been 11 years since my last boyfriend.
Yes folks, I've been single AND celibate all that time. I gave up casual sex in my 20's … not for any religious reasons, but couldn't cope with the emotions that ensued. I have two nieces, now in their early 20's. I have lots of friends with children and I am an “honourary auntie” to some of them and love their company. But it is tinged with great sadness when my friends little girls aged 5 and 6 give me a big hug or snuggle up to me, because I only get a taste of what being a Mum feels like.
I feel like I have missed out on one of the most fundamental experiences in life. I celebrate no major milestones – no engagement, no wedding, no births, no first steps, no new teeth, no first day at school. I wonder who will give a damn about me when I am old.
For years I've watched other people enjoy milestones – engagements, weddings, and births. Hell, I've even seen divorces and remarriages and I remain locked in celibate singledom. Am I so repulsive?
I'm intelligent, well spoken, reasonably pleasant looking and have a wide variety of interests.
I work full time and am struggling with finding meaning in my work. Meaning in my life. Coming home to an empty house night after night is wretched at times.
Oh yes, dear people, I have tried dating. Many times …. a million coffee dates, blind dates, internet, dinner for 6 – you name it. I have an elderly mother in a nursing home who was felled suddenly by a stroke and is now become a child, after being such a dynamic stylish woman previously. My father died of an asbestos-related lung cancer, and my brother has a mental illness. So far my sister is happily remarried.
I am the only female in the immediate family who doesn't have a partner. My Mum is a widow after nearly 50 years of marriage.
I started a new job 2 weeks ago. Today there was someone leaving to go on maternity leave. Belly bulging she talks about her hopes and dreams, names, sex of baby, mother in laws, soon to be grandparents and all the rest.
The usual drinks after work in the kitchen. In the past I'd join in but not anymore. I had a quick drink, joined in general chit chat. But when the baby talk started, I excused myself and went back to work. I decided I no longer have to put up with all that just to look polite. I couldn't be bothered listening. I now remove myself from situations regarding new babies asap. I have a friend about to have twins via IVF and a donor egg (aged 44 ) and whilst I'm pleased her dream is coming true – none of mine have. I just don't know how I'm going to handle it, just be polite and avoid her I think.
In the workplace I don't offer any information unless it's asked. Readers, I used to be full of hope, youth and dreams. Now I feel hard, bitter and cheated. I'm being honest….. I no longer sugarcoat enquiries as to my childless state. It usually shuts people up and makes them think about their good fortune.
Any ideas how I can get past this desperately bitter stage ? After dating for 25 years and missing the boat on motherhood, there seems very little to keep me interested in trying to establish at least a loving partnership with a man. I always thought I'd like to meet a man with a large extended family whom I could be enveloped into (my own immediate is very small) ….. but I find that even men around my own age – 46 – are sadly looking for 35 yo's.
Bitter and Twisted ! Yes I Am !
I guess it comes down to the fact that society largely judges women on whether or not they have children. It seems to be a great decider on what sort of personality she must have – never mind that most people do not know why the woman doesn't have children. The judging and speculation usually happens withou them being asked.
To '46 yr old Anonymous from Australia' – I doubt you are reading here at this late date but if you are: I am very sorry to hear about your unhappiness. However I am glad that you do have (sounds like) a good relationship w/ your sister and nieces. Some of us are only children…that's not so great.
Perhaps you would find your friend (who is expecting twins) to be comforting after all. Don't look at it as what she has and what you don't – if she is truly a kind person – she and her twins could be “family” in a sense, they say “friends are your chosen family”. However, I believe that may be true only in a few circumstances…so only you will know if she is family material. I know she would love some assistance, having twins at advanced age is very physically exhausting.
Relationships can be so difficult, you simply did not find the right man for you (yet). Nothing wrong with you.
You must keep busy and keep negative thoughts away. There are lots of lonely people out there, you are not alone for not having celebrated anniversaries etc. Keep in mind celebrations such as these, for many people, are not so wonderful – but I guess it seems so for someone who feels as though they are 'missing out'.
I really wish you all the best.
I found your site on stumbleupon and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!
Thanks for sharing….
Thanks for writing about this. As far as I know, I have never be thought of as odd because I am childless. I am one of those that married the wrong person and was unable though fear, social pressure and the love I did have of my spouse, to leave. I did leave at 40 years of age. I have been resentful of the people who were mothers that were close to me, who thought I was nuts for wanting to leave my marriage. My advice to anyone is that if you do want to have children in your life, make sure you have really hard discussions before marriage. My husband said he did, but lied to me and after seven years told me if I ever got pregnant that he would want me to have an abortion. But when I wanted to leave the marriage, he told me I signed saying it was til death due us part. He was financially controlling and would not let me have my own account. Everyone around me thought I was wrong for wanting to leave, so I stayed. The trouble is… life is short and women only have a small window if you want to have a child naturally. The movie stars who have children do not tell people how much money they spent having a child after 40. Am I bitter? Maybe, I don't want to be. It helps to have a way to write about it. Thanks for letting me rant.
i think employers just generally expect everybody to be totally motivated, cheerful, and devoted to their work – however crappy and boring that might be.
i also think that male employers just don't understand that someone could have other wishes in live than a career. When a female employee has a baby, they are not happy about it because of all the trouble (maternity leave, part-time work, leaving work on time to get baby from daycare, not coming in when baby is sick…) but it's legitimate in societies eyes, so the attempts of employers to work against this are hidden, but they are there.
It is hard when we are struggling with a personal crisis to keep up all the motivation. And when we had other plans for our lives, to just go and fully identify with work.
but with employers attitudes, it would never ever be possible to talk openly about this. And they pay us for our work not for smiling and being motivated (unless you're a model or so). I believe that hit's all employees with some personal, “unsavoury” crisis. Severe illness, breakdown because of divorce, troubled emotional state because of family troubles… we sell our souls to the work market and that's it.
To Anonymous in Australia,
We have twin lives! Thank you for articulating my feelings so well. Your soul-sister in Texas.