I’m so despondent about my career because my being a mother and, perhaps, being a woman, had worked against my career advancement. My boss did not consider me for the position of national sales manager although I had been sales supervisor of the year for three consecutive years. He assumed that my being a mother of four (3 kids in school and one 3-month old baby) would make it difficult for me to handle the job of a national sales manager who needs to be mobile and be available to travel to different places in the Philippines where our company does business.
I feel so demotivated and demoralized that I want to resign. I’ve been with my company for the past 9 years and have risen from the position of sales rep to sales supervisor, which position I’ve held for 5 years now. I’m now 41 years old. My career goal, which my husband approves of, is to go up to the highest level possible in sales management. My 73-year-old mother, who lives with us, is healthy and she looks after our kids. I can always get a competent “yaya” and a househelp to help my mother. Besides, my husband is an accountant and observes regular office hours. So you see, I can be mobile and can do what I need to do. I see no future for me now in my chosen career while my boss is my boss. I don’t know if his boss, who is also a male, has also gender bias. What should I do?
Ms. Career Stuck
You have clearly identified your feelings about your situation. In addition, you feel confused whether to stick it out in your company where you now find your career derailed because of your perception that being a mother of 4 children was the impediment to your promotion, or to resign which you are hesitant to do.
From the way you describe your marriage and family situation, it seems that your mobility will not be a problem and that you can fill the requirements and face the challenges of the position of national sales manager. However, instead of second guessing if your being a mother of 4, was indeed the reason why you had not been considered to the sales management position, I suggest that you go directly to your boss and ask him the following questions:
- Am I qualified for the position?
- If so, what was the reason (or reasons) why I didn’t get it?
- If not, can you please tell me the reason (or reasons) why not?
- In what areas should I improve to increase my chances for promotion next time a vacancy occurs?
You can be upfront with him by telling him your marriage and family situation; that you have your husband’s blessing to pursue a sales management career; that you have your mother to stay full time with your children. Because of these, you are mobile and available to travel to different places where your company has business.
However, he may not be upfront with you by telling you the risks of having a woman in a sales management position: being exposed to physical hazards in travel to some areas where men are more fit to be in; that women are subject to molestation and to sexual harassment, and the like. Maternity leave makes a woman unproductive, a matter that employers will not admit.
It is obvious from the way you write, that pursuing your career goal is more important to you than having quality time with your children. The absence of a mother from the home during the formation years of a child’s life always has an effect on the emotional well being of this child. The need to be physically present at home when children experience certain “crises” in childhood and adolescence, such as failures and rejection, when they find the need to turn to a mother for support and nurturing, can not be filled by their father or “lola”. It is only when these children of absent parents show behavior problems in school that parents wake up and do remedial measures that might be too late.
And, oh yes! I also suggest that you ask your mother if she is willing to be full-time stay-at-home “mother surrogate”, especially since having a competent “yaya” and househelp may not be that easy to get. If she is willing, I suggest you give her a regular compensation which you insist she gets.