Why working mothers are experiencing more self-doubt and anxiety than ever
Emma Pinchbeck, the chief executive of Energy UK, was open about her fears of being judged after starting her job when her daughter was relatively young, but mindful that the vulnerability she was feeling was similar to that she had experienced for most of her working life.
“I’ve been a woman in a relatively male dominated industry in a senior job for a long time, so this doesn’t feel different from the regular amount of imposter syndrome and the kind of questioning how to present yourselves which comes with that territory anyway,” she explains.
“It just feels like the natural extension of it. I went through it when I was a relatively young woman appointed to a senior job. Then I went through it again when I was a pregnant youngish woman in a senior job – and now it’s the same question about being a mum in a senior job.”
For Stella Creasy, some of the judgement wasn’t only in her head – it was external.
“People feel that they have a right to say and make judgments on you. I think that’s also the case with being a mum”, she says.
“It’s sort of doubly difficult where you’re thinking, ‘well is this because you’re a constituent or just because you feel that you have a right to comment on what my daughter is wearing or her size, or whatever?’
“And you’re biting down on your tongue very hard and sticking your nails into your hand, [and saying] ‘Ah ha, ah ha, thank you so much’.
The MP sees these kinds of intrusive comments as being part of the way working mothers are treated and that can contribute to our own self-doubt.
“We surround them with so much commentary and judgement”, she adds. “Untangling how much of that is to do with being a Member of Parliament and how much that is to do with just being a woman in the public eye, it’s a hard one.
“I would be lying if I said, ‘Oh don’t take [any notice]… of course you’re constantly cross checking yourself”.
But rather than accepting it, Stella plans to expose this kind of behaviour.
“Changing that for me is about surfacing it first and foremost”, she says with determination. Thanks to women like her, the self-doubt felt by so many working mothers is no longer bound by a culture of silence.
Listen to Stella Creasy MP discuss the challenges of being an MP and a mother on The Telegraph’s new podcast, The Juggling Act, on the audio player within this article, Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. Join the Telegraph Women Facebook Group to discuss The Juggling Act and more.
This content was originally published here.