Working mums fear losing out in career advancement

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PETALING JAYA: Postponing or foregoing their ambitions to advance in their career is the top dilemma for working mothers, especially those in unsupportive and rigid work environments.

Senior writer Nur Hanim Abdullah said she has a hard time coping with the demands of her profession and being a mother-of-three.

“My typical working hours begin at 10am. I used to like this off-peak time to avoid traffic in the morning, but it is different now that I have to send my seven-year-old son to school. My job ends at 7pm, which is two hours after the children’s school time.

“I have to rely on my mother-in-law or frequently ask my superior to allow me to go home sooner, especially when my husband is out of town,” she said.

Nur Hanim said she was fortunate to have superiors who allowed her to continue working from home to replace the hours she spent to fetch her children.

However, she said the inflexibility of allowing mothers to change their work schedule places a burden on them to meet their duties both as a parent and an employee.

“It really helps when the company has a more flexible work arrangement policy,” said the 37-year-old from Kuala Lumpur.

Nur Hanim also believes that her commitments are a disadvantage to her when it comes to being picked for overseas assignments and courses.

Human resources manager Masrah Marsinda said workplace flexibility should be given as a privilege rather than a right, for performing employees in order to ease the burden of working mothers.

“I spend most of the time on the road because of traffic jams and at home, I will only have a few hours with my children and to complete the household chores.

“When I reach home, I am already emotionally drained and having to help my children with their homework and do other things puts more pressure on me mentally,” said the mother-of-two from Bukit Beruntung, Selangor.

That aside, the 36-year-old said she is glad to have a spouse who is willing to step in when needed.

“When I’m too tired to finish doing chores, my husband often gives me a helping hand without me asking him to,” she said.

Masrah also spoke about the benefits of occasionally hiring cleaners or domestic help to lighten the workload at home, although she acknowleges that not everyone can afford it.

A senior consultant who wanted to be known only as Ana said she is grateful to be able to work from home as it gives her flexibility to manage her children’s schedules.

The 37-year-old mother-of-four from Petaling Jaya said having a live-in helper also enables her to better focus on her children’s development.

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