Taking a year off mat leave changes perception of your ambition

(65 Posts)
CeCeBloomer Fri 16-Sep-16 11:01:08

I am very much getting the impression that anything longer than 6/7 months off is pushing it if you want to be taken seriously in your career?

90daychallenger Fri 16-Sep-16 11:05:07

Unfortunately I actually do think this is true in many instances. It shouldn't be but I think it is. There's something in our water at work and we have had hundreds several staff off for maternity leave this year with people returning after various periods of time. I've heard several people comment that those taking a full year and/or returning part time have given up on their career and/or won't be able to catch up.

I have to say it's mostly senior men that I've heard that from

CeCeBloomer Fri 16-Sep-16 11:08:12

Yep - that is my experience and o really love my career and still want to push forward so am planning on taking 6 months but I feel guilty because I could actually afford to take longer. Therefore makes me feel like a bad mother!

Tralala33 Fri 16-Sep-16 11:20:48

I was expecting this to be the case, but have found the opposite. I took 15 months off and returned part time. I was given the option of going back to my old role as a job share or they would create a new role for me. I took the second option and it's a much better job (same pay and level) and they have said I can go back full time after a year if I want, no pressure. I've been back 3 weeks and it's like I've never left. I even feel like I'm being taken more seriously. It does help that the senior managers are all females with children except one man and I have worked there for 12 years. I feel very fortunate.

CeCeBloomer Fri 16-Sep-16 11:24:10

I think public / private and then type of industry has a big impact. I work in a private industry that is still quite old school

notinagreatplace Fri 16-Sep-16 11:51:00

I don't know if this is just my circle but I feel like a few years ago every woman I knew took the full year off but recently more and more are going for 6 months or 9 months. Sometimes their partners are then doing shared parental leave but often not.

Heatherbell1978 Fri 16-Sep-16 11:55:16

Very much depends on the company you work for and timing. With DS1 I took a year off, came back to same role but decided to move internally a few months later to a new role. All worked out fine and will look good on my CV. Now I'm pregnant again and will take another year. This time it might set me back but only because I'll miss out on starting work on a new project which would have given me shed loads of experience. If I was here, I'd get it so it's largely my choice and 'bad' timing. When I return I'll pick up where I left off.

CeCeBloomer Fri 16-Sep-16 12:00:40

I wonder what the experience is of women who are in the 6 figure salary bracket? As I do think that makes a difference certainly in my workplace.

FreeButtonBee Fri 16-Sep-16 12:08:25

Just come back after second mat leave (both were a year). I feel ready to go, childbearing years behind me, I'm aiming to hit the promotional merrygoround hard next year (15 month lead time). I don't feel that time off has negatively impacted my ambition and frankly there has been so much change and reorganisation that no one has the same reporting line or business that they had a year ago so I'm not really at any more of a loss. I've no doubt it will be tough but I am good at what I do and work hard and pay through the nose for excellent nanny cover so I'm not wasting my time or my children's time just clocking in and out and not actually achieving something.
I do work part time but do 4 days and can always do an extra day if needed - I am ultra flexible. So far it's worked pretty well.

pitterpatterrain Fri 16-Sep-16 12:11:48

CeCe I would say the shorter the "better" is the perception - I took 7 months and my feeling it was seen as too long

I wonder if it makes a difference if you have a more international company? Mine is American so at senior levels the comparisons are directly with the rest of the senior team in the US who clearly take a lot shorter than 6-7 months. Also we don't have many women in senior positions so the men are not used to really thinking about it

FATEdestiny Fri 16-Sep-16 12:12:08

I'm not in the 6 figure salary bracket (teacher). I found that having children changes my perception of career ambition. In particular the second child in my case.

I took 7 months off with first child, then a year off second child. My perception at work was not dampened after maternity leave. However my priorities shifted. I took a "career break" after my end maternity. That was 9 years ago and I've since had 2 more children.

An example of children changing a parents career ambition could be my brother. Senior managerial role, private sector.

In the years after he became a father his performance management meetings forcusef not on higher wages, but instead on work/life balance and more time off.

He got a promotion. Instead of negotiating more money, he negotiated same salary but a 4 day week.

He's since changes company (now with in nhs offices) and he negotiated a 3 day working week plus 1 day working from home. Not as a part time role. He agreed his responsibilities and gained assurances that as long as his targets were met, his time could be managed as he saw fit.

sunfunshine Fri 16-Sep-16 12:18:03

I definitely think it does. I took a full year with DS2 and found that all my contempories were promoted in my absence. I've tried for two promotions since but was told I wasn't seen as senior level material. Given how good my scores were for the end of year review I put this entirely down to taking too long on maternity, or any maternity at all quite frankly.

However as pp says, once I got over it I decided to just relax and work to rule and not be stressed about it. I can't compete with the corporate sharks who work 12 hour days now anyway so I need to accept I won't be climbing the ladder the way I'd hoped.

DrDreReturns Fri 16-Sep-16 12:18:20

FATEdestiny I have the same attitude as your brother now - I don't necessarily want more money (though I wouldn't turn it down), what I really want is more time off!

BaffledMummy Fri 16-Sep-16 12:22:28

I took 7 months...I would have liked to take longer but I had the concern of being seen to be out too long. I just squeak into the 6 figures category and am the main breadwinner so felt pressure to return. It was too soon. I have been miserable since I returned and feel quite sidelined at work. At home I feel guilty about working full time and not spending as much time with my dd as I would like. Lose lose sad

Mummaaaaaah Fri 16-Sep-16 12:25:13

Sadly I think it is often the case. But not always so. I was promoted to MD after my second mat leave (both were full years) and have since bee given even further responsibility. My plan though is to ask for 4days for same salary at next appraisal round. I currently work full time with one day from home but my hours are mine to manage as I see fit.

CeCeBloomer Fri 16-Sep-16 12:34:33

Baffled mummy - we sound in similar situations. In hindsight do you wish you had ignored the pressure and taken a year?

YelloDraw Fri 16-Sep-16 12:47:16

wonder what the experience is of women who are in the 6 figure salary bracket? As I do think that makes a difference certainly in my workplace

A year would be pretty much unheard of. Six to nine months max.

StillCounting123 Fri 16-Sep-16 12:55:24

I gave up my career in Social Work to be a SAHM. That was 7 years ago and I'm still at home!

Don't regret it at all, as my field of work was being destroyed by cuts and management reshuffle.

But I've all but ruined my career as I'd have to retrain, nearly from scratch, as legislation and policy has changed so much.

I noticed as I was leaving that a lot of my male bosses had SAHW's and the majority of female bosses were childless - though I'm not sure if this was through choice.

BaffledMummy Fri 16-Sep-16 13:39:09

CeCe I definitely do. If I ever have another, I will take a year. I actually think it would be easier to return to a new job after mat leave than return to one where things have moved on so much. Next time (if there is a next time) I'll be looking for a fresh start.

pitterpatterrain Fri 16-Sep-16 17:42:30

Baffled I wonder about that. Going off on mat leave again soon and polishing my CV will be on the list of things to do

Puppymouse Fri 16-Sep-16 17:53:08

I was away 14 months in total with having DD. I asked to go back part time and my boss's brain imploded. I know for a fact she asked HR how she could get rid of me shock

But they brought in a new senior manager between me and old boss who said it was perfectly manageable and I have tried to prove her right ever since. That was two years ago. I'm currently being encouraged to consider promotion when the right role comes up that might be tailored to my hours and skills.

For me it's taken a long time to prove myself again. I had to basically start from scratch and build my credibility. I despaired a bit at times but I've been lucky to have my manager championing me as soon as she got to know me. Boss's boss is also now supportive of me. Normally I wouldn't have stuck around but had to make it work because it's well paid part time work. I'm glad I persevered.

Cabrinha Fri 16-Sep-16 18:10:17

Definitely depends on the company.
I've worked for a big firm for 17 years.
8 years, then a year on mat leave, now another 8 years done.
Half the people I work with don't know whether I have a child.
The other half I've didn't work with me back then, or couldn't tell you how long I was off for.

As it happens my career is on hold because I live very far from work and don't want to move for promotion, and that is because of my child. But my company still push me forward and suggest it.

I wonder if there is, on average, a difference for those who aren't well settled in a company first, and who have more than one longer mat leave?

29redshoes Fri 16-Sep-16 18:13:36

A long maternity leave doesn't seem to make much difference in my organisation. Going back part time definitely does though, it is pretty much impossible to get promoted if you're only working three days a week.

Personally I don't think we'll see proper equality in the workplace until more fathers take up shared parental leave and go back part time after kids.

starsinyourpies Fri 16-Sep-16 18:14:00

Good six figure salary here, took a year off with last child and will do again next year. I think it's been fine although obviously those who haven't had the equivalent time off will progress quicker. Still good promotion prospects etc, have worked flexor and part time.

edwinbear Fri 16-Sep-16 18:16:13

I was in the six figure bracket. Took 12 months off for ds and returned to a 3 day week. Took a further 12 months off for dd and returned on a 4 day week. I was promoted whilst working 3 days as my focus increased immensely and I was producing very high quality work.

All was well following my second mat leave, until we had a restructure and the senior manager role was taken up by a woman who had made different life choices, deciding not to have children in persuit of a career and is now incredibly resentful of women who have tried to achieve both. She certainly took a very dim view of women taking maternity leave and/or requesting flexible working and on her watch, all the women with young children have recently been made redundant, myself included, other than those who are currently pregnant or on mat leave. Dreadful woman.

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