Being Childless at Work

In a recent Fortune article, the author describes the biases in the workplace against women who are childless/child free. These biases allude to employers who believe that child-free women don't need/deserve personal time, don't need to worry about work-life balance, don't have as great a need to take advantage of paid-time off/flex time, can pick up the slack for their colleagues who have kids, and are only interested in prioritizing their careers over starting families. I don't have children yet but I have seen that many of these biases are quite true in the workplace, and there are times when I have felt like I haven't been able to enjoy the same types of privileges or luxuries as my colleagues with kids have. What have your experiences been like in the workplace, both if you have kids and if you're child free? In your experiences, do these biases hold true, or are they simply subjective? Read the article at:

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  • Stella Bakibinga

    At my current place of work here in Sweden, people employees without children are always told to be on standby for night time jobs in case someone calls in sick. I don't really think that my colleagues have issues with that kind of arrangement considering that working at night is more paying. Having said that, I guess it is all about the working conditions. If they are favourable then it wouldn't matter!

  • Teresa Abila
    Many companies often fail to consider that men and women's career life cycles are different, they focus more on making profits and don't need interruptions in between work that may cost them in many ways. It's very true that women who have children or are pregnant face alot of discrimination since employers know they can't give their whole best to work and are to take care of their families. To many employers, this is a loss and would prefer single ladies for full time employment. It's also a worrying concern that companies leave women to fix this problem on their own. Many of their programs ask women to adopt more masculine approach in order to succeed. I think companies must lead the change, reframe gender balance and maternal leave as a business issue. They should also increase awareness of gender roles in their managerial positions.
  • Heanneah .S. Farwenee

    These biases hold true most especially in the private sector. Women who hold leadership positions and are childless are always looked down upon by their fellow women. Even private campaniles would prefer a single childless woman compare to a mother. This is widespread and needs to have a balance.

  • Badejoko Fabamise

    I like Mary and Liz's take on this. it is common practice in workplaces for this bias to exist. It is slightly better in Government establishments. I think the onus is on you knowing how to balance your time and priorities. 

  • Liz Guantai
    This discrimination is growing in the work environment. I have noticed that many private companies prefer young single employees and not married committed employees for that reason. The employee may also not be willing to incure temporary replacement costs when his female employees go for maternity leave hence may be biased in recruiting women.
  • Mary Mkoji

    Thanks Tazeen...Quite common nowadays as women venture out to pursue their careers. I find that this bias occurs especially for the women who are high up in leadership who are seen to be married to their work, often in the mid thirties and single.(who appear to be late in getting married -biological time clock - another topic in itself) I really do not think that it is a matter of privileges or luxuries but a matter of different priorities which are different for women with children and those without. In my workplace, i have been around women with children, those who are child free and workaholics (defined by their work) and I would put myself at the child free but deliberate in taking my personal time and balancing my work-life category...Purely subjective.

  • I have not seen it where I work because everyone knows his/her roles and responsibilities. Organizations that are ISO certified work different from those ones that are not certified. Every process is guided by a procedure and every individual is measured based on parameters that have been set for every role. These kind of organizations do not discriminate against women's status. 

  • Stella Bakibinga

    This is very true Tazeen. I personally know an employer who prefers taking on childless women as opposed to those with children. This employer presumes that women without children have more to offer since they are less tied. I have also noticed that it is easier to get time off work if you have children as compared to when you do not have any.

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