Letter: Mothers at work: BBC hits back

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The Independent Online
Sir: Most women work for two reasons: they need the money and they benefit as people from the stimulation, challenge and self-esteem that comes from having a role in addition to that of being a housewife and mother. Many do not have a choice, and there can be few working mothers who do not, at times, feel stressed, frustrated and guilty about juggling the two roles. The Panorama report targets such feelings but offers no solutions to mothers compelled by their financial situation to work.

Double standards apply to women who work. A woman who does successfully juggle a full-time job and a family is suspected of being too hard, neglecting her family in her ruthless pursuit of the top. A woman who works part- time while her children are young is seen to be only dabbling in the job and is less likely to be taken seriously than her full-time counterpart. A woman who takes a career break is seen as uncommitted to her career and too old to fit in when she returns.

Attitudes must change. This country cannot do without its female workforce and all efforts must be made to make the most of their skills while accepting that, for a few years, their role as mothers is vital. Work-place nurseries and tax-relief on child care would instantly reduce both financial and physical pressure. Better opportunities to train and work on a part-time basis, or to tailor hours to school days and holidays would indicate a more realistic attitude from employers.

Improving the opportunities for working mothers and reducing the pressures they often experience can only have a beneficial effect on their families.

Dr JUDITH KERR

Winchester

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