Breaking the Hour-Glass Ceiling

We’ve all heard of the glass ceiling, but until recently, the hour-glass ceiling was relatively little known. Whilst the glass ceiling refers to the obstacle that general gender differences put in the way of women wanting to progress to the top rungs of the career ladder, the hour-glass ceiling very specifically refers to the barriers to working mothers’ career advancement brought about by long working hours.

If you’re raising a family, or trying to start one, the increasing time demands of the modern workplace can leave you torn between your career and your home life. If you spend all your time at work, you’ve nothing left to give to your family. If you refuse to work silly hours, this can harm your chances of promotion down the line. Choosing between career and family is something that affects all of us, no matter where we currently stand in the world of work.

Negotiate smartly
– The key to balancing work and home life is to negotiate smartly when it comes to both aspects of your life. If you have a life partner, work with them to find a way to fairly share childcare and other home responsibilities. If you’re a single mother, see if any relatives or close friends can share the load between them. Some professional nannies may also be less expensive than you’d expect, due to them caring for several children at once. At work, be real with your boss and communicate to them that, whilst you are eager to progress within the company and help it to a higher and better place, you must also be realistic about the amount of time you can invest in your work.Even TV presenter Christine Bleakley recently revealed that her early morning starts on the show ‘Daybreak’ are holding her back from starting a family with footballer boyfriend Frank Lampard. So what can Christine and the rest of us do to overcome the hour-glass ceiling?

By being open with your employer and showing genuine willingness to compromise, you’re more likely gain their favour, both now and in the future.

  • Look at the long-term picture – To devote enough time to your career, it may be that you have no choice but to invest more money than you’d ideally like into professional childcare. Weigh up whether this is worth it by asking yourself this: Will investing a little extra money now result in a higher position and a higher salary at work in the long run? If the answer is yes and that’s what you want, think of buying high quality childcare you can trust as an investment in your future career and in the future financial stability of your children.
  • Don’t let the term put you off  Although we’ve just spent the whole article referring to the hour-glass ceiling, don’t let the term have a psychological effect on you in everyday life. As with the plain old term ‘glass ceiling’, just having the idea of it going round your head can form a mental barrier between you and your goals, as you become convinced that there’s this hurdle there in your way. Instead, get clear on what you want from both your home life and your work life and then work out a clear flight path towards all your goals.

If you envision a clear path with no glass panes, or pains in your way, there’s ultimately no stopping you.

About the Author:

Career Ignition club

Nisa Chitakasem, Founder of Position Ignition and the Career Ignition Club. Position Ignition is the one of the leading career consultancies in the UK specialising in career change and career development. Their Career Ignition Club is a dedicated online career resource offering on-going learning, advice and training for career conscious professionals. Visit the or see their Career Blog for more help with your career.

Follow her @PosIgnition.

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