Because We’re Worth It

was published by Penguin NZ in May 2009. This book interviews New Zealand and Australian working mothers about the work choices they have made after children. For some working part time or consulting has been the preferred option, for others, they have the support systems to work full time. For each of them, it’s a choice they constantly review. The book discusses the increasing role of the father and working mothers’ need to share out their responsibilities more. “Because We’re Worth It”, also looks at the attitudes in workplaces towards working mothers and the need for women to be more assertive as they climb the ladder.

Well known women interviewed in the book include New Zealanders Katherine Rich, Margaret Shields, Judy McGregor, Karyn Scherer, Mary Devine, Deborah Hollings, Kate Ross and Australians, Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, Carolyn Hewson, Barbara Pocock, Anna McPhee, Wendy McCarthy, Catherine Fox, Catherine Brenner, Yasmin Allen and Deborah Robinson.

What they say:

“There is no doubt that New Zealand and Australian working mothers today have it better than the shoulder padded and mini-skirted generations before us. I don’t know what generation that makes us. The “when in doubt wear black, please don’t make me wear low-rise jeans generation.”

“Every time I go into an interview, I feel like I have a millstone around my neck because I am a mother who wants to work part-time. I feel like I am seeking some special favour or indulgence – that I am going cap in hand, begging them to do me the enormous favour of permitting me to work flexible hours.” Rebecca, stay at home mother, Sydney.

“Whether or not you return to work after having children is a middle-class choice,”
Elizabeth Broderick, Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Australia.

“It’s really really important that every now and again women refocus and ask: “Where am I going? Am I still going in the right direction or am I stationary?” Margaret Shields, NZ

“Parents need children. There is a lack of consideration in terms of how we arrange our lives.” Margaret Shields, NZ

“Things have to change in men’s and women’s and employer’s heads.” Shenagh Gleisner, chief executive, NZ Ministry of Women’s Affairs.

“I did not have the constancy of support that you have when you have a nanny who you know will always be there. Very often, babsitters have their own lives, they are not totally committed to you – not that that would be reasonable. Australia does not have that nanny culture.” Carolyn Hewson, Sydney.

“The 40 hour week is something most people don’t have. When did we all agree to put that to one side? One of the things I find is that most of the people who talk about “work-life balance” don’t have it.” Katherine Rich

“With the last job I had, the reason I quit was because I got a new boss. I had put in a whole new accounting system. Everything was working; everything was running so nicely that I was almost running out of things to do. He got upset with me because I was going home at 5 o’clock. He had this archaic idea that you are only working hard if you are working outside normal working hours. I resigned on the following Monday.” Louise, a NZ mother looking for work.

“The need to go back to work should not be seen as disloyal to children. It is scary how many of (her daughter) Sophie’s friends are deciding it’s not worth it to go back to work after children. I find that really quite terrifying. Even if you just hang in there by your fingernails (it’s still worth doing).” Wendy McCarthy AO, Sydney.

“I am trying to be a lot more planned about my approach to work. I don’t want to do the time and go home; there’s got to be a lot more. It has to be interesting. I’m not going to go and sit in an office and stare at the wall.” Louise, stay at home mother returning to work.

Of teenagers needs, “That time after school, they want you there so that they can come home and ignore you.” Frances part time working mother.