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Be your own advocate in the workplace.

I was at a seminar that focused on the empowerment of women. The event was hosted by SJ Magazine and is a three part series. Today’s topic was “Balancing Work and Family.”

During the panel discussion a bright young, new mom asked a great question about keeping a competitive edge with male coworkers while still being there for your children.  She then briefly told us about how she is the youngest employee and only woman in her position. She then shared her concerns about being passed up for job opportunities and not being recognized as a valuable employee.

Sadly, I do not think that the panel’s advice was very helpful.  The gist of it was that the employee had already proven herself, evidenced by her being the youngest in her position and that based on this, the company will recognize the employee’s value and worth to the company.

The truth of the matter is that mothers have to work twice as hard to prove their value to their employer.  Many employers view maternity leave as an inconvenience and have a negative attitude towards a mother’s need to occasionally come in late or leave early, or miss a day due to their obligations as a mother.  A majority of my clients are mothers who were terminated while on maternity leave or shortly or mother’s whose careers have become stagnant as a result of their taking maternity leave.

My advice, know your rights and do not be timid about advocating for yourself. Hold your supervisors and employer responsible for their actions and do not be afraid to question suspect employment actions to which you are being subjected.  Whatever you do, do not quit your job without first speaking to an employment attorney.

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