Single Women – The New Victims of Workplace Discrimination

Single Woman - The New Victims of Workplace Discrimination

I read this article with so much focus, I completely forget about the full-bodies shiraz I’d been anticipating all week beside me. Marie Claire has shed light on a passionate issue for most single women – carrying more of the burden in the workplace when compared to their married co-workers. This article really speaks to me because it finally  highlighted exactly what had frustrated me as a professional single career woman.

Do single women need less of a work-life balance?

These days, a work-life balance is difficult to maintain for everyone, but there’s a subtle understanding and acceptance that married women, with or without kids, should be given priority when it comes to ensuring they’re home for dinner with their families. But because a single women isn’t seen as having more important obligations than work, she doesn’t have to rush out at 5:00 pm. After all, who would she be rushing home to? The attitude is that the single woman can put yoga, dating, or socializing on hold.

According to Bella DePaulo, a Social Scientist who’s written a book on ‘singlism‘, it can be described as:

“the myriad ways that our culture rewards married couples, from discounts on car insurance to preferential treatment in the housing market, while treating singles as second-class citizens—and it’s increasing in the office.”

My concern has always been; how will single women create opportunities to have families of their own, if the majority of their free time  bombarded with work? If a you’re working evenings and weekends, you probably want to go home and get to bed rather than getting dolled up for that blind date you had planned. And so you push that blind date into next week, next month or next year.

It isn’t a secret that many single women are not only looking for a work-life balance, but the chance to meet a partner they can settle down with. As busy as out lives are, unless we make it a priority, having a relationship can easily fall off our radar.

Corporate lawyer Mary Mathis has legitimate concerns when she says that she worries that 10 years from now, her life will look exactly like it does now: “My coworker with kids leaves early twice a week, but I work from 9 to 7 in the office every day, another hour at home, and throughout the weekend“.

My own story blatant of workplace discrimination goes like this…

I was a hardworking headhunter before I ventured into self employment.  A few years into my employment, my boss who was also the owner of the company, had a baby. Unlike most business owners, she took a year off and as one of the two single women in the office, she delegated the majority of her work to me. I managed her accounts, operations, training new recruiter and dealt with all the issues a business owner has to juggle. On top of this, I managed my own accounts (clients and job seekers).

It wasn’t odd to catch me in the office until 10 pm and take work home most days. At the time, I had a boyfriend who’s patience was wearing thin, with my unavailablility and likelihood to sleep through movies. I welcomed my boss’s return with a sigh of relief and open arms. Except, very little changed.

I was still responsible for the bulk of everything I had managed the year before

She was flabbergasted by my suggestion that the work be distributed evenly. She explained that I got to go home and “sleep at night, not wake up with a crying baby every few hours”.  I would have been happy to wake up with a crying baby, but I wondered how I would ever have the ability to create that life for myself if I was working every waking moment.

This was one of the conversations that pushed me towards self employment.

I knew I was being used, and while my co-workers were going home to their husbands and children,  I was losing the time to invest in my own relationship.  A few months later, I quit.

But not before my job cost me my relationship

I don’t regret many things, but I do regret not having the guts to say ‘no’ at the time and giving my relationship more attention. I am, by no means, suggesting that we should blame others for this loss of time and loss of balance as young career women. But I am suggesting that we take control of our careers and our own lives.

What can we do about it?

In my case, the answer was entrepreneurship. Juggling a business and a side hustle has its own demands and at times, can be just as busy, but those demands are on my own terms. Starting a business isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but there are other ways to handle this:

1) Working hard doesn’t always pay

Working smart does. Working long hours doesn’t mean you’re going to reach your goals sooner. Working too hard and too long for extended periods of time leads to one thing – burnout.

2) Learn to say no

As women, saying ‘no’ is one of the hardest things to do. And because our twenties and thirties are spent proving ourselves in the workplace, saying ‘no’ seems counterproductive. But in reality, people actually respect you more if you have the ability to say ‘no’. By doing so, you’re setting and implementing your own boundaries.

3) If you need to leave, do it

People tend to regret not leaving a job they aren’t satisfied with more than leaving it. There are lots of opportunities and when you’re not in a rush to find a new job, you have the time to choose the right job for you. Remember that YOU control your own career.

Have you experienced this kind of discrimination?

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