Some time last year my mother caught me after a particularly exhausting week, my two-year old had run me ragged, I hadn't had a full night's sleep since I could remember and work had gone crazy, she said "I just wish you didn't have to work during the pre-school years."
It was coming from my mother who had put herself through university in the 1960s when only one in 20 people, let alone women, were going into higher education, she had worked through my entire living memory and had encouraged me to work hard enough at school, to get into Oxford and have a career. More than anything else I was surprised that she thought I was working because I had to work, it didn't register that I actually wanted to work.
New research out this week shows that I am very firmly in the majority by wanting to work. Indeed 83% of working mothers say they wouldn't give up their jobs to stay at home full time with their children. And the top three reasons cited were wanting the variety of work and family life, financial, and needing the intellectual challenge.
These are women who work part-time, and the snapshot they have provided busts many of the myths that hiring managers have around part-time working mothers.
The survey was run by my company FEEL Communications in conjunction with http://www.2to3days.com . We are a new breed of consultants who seek to negotiate roles on behalf of women who need flexible or part-time work. I set up the company less than a year ago and experience so far shows that with many of our clients we are pushing at an open door. Because far from the stereotypical image of "the part-timer," these women give more than their contracted (only 4% of respondents said they did not work outside of their contracted hours) and will forego office gossip, taking lunch breaks and surfing the internet on company time in order to get the job done and out the door on time.
Surprisingly, at the year that is going to see Gender Pay Gap legislation coming into force in the UK, only 4% said being paid fairly was among their top priorities, and came well below reliable childcare, a supportive partner and a supportive corporate culture or manager.
71% of these women had a Bachelors degree and of those, a further 25% also had a Masters degree.
In 2016, women in the UK were 35%* more likely than men, to go to university. And this figure is likely to grow if (as 66% of the women who replied to the survey say) part of why we work is to show good role model behaviour to our kids.
Surely we owe it to the next generation to prove we not only made educating women the norm, we also made it possible for them go on and do something with those highly educated brains?
In an age when we can work across continents and timezones, do we really believe the only place and time to get the job done is 8am-6pm in the office.
*Higher Education Policy Institute report, May 2016Suggest a correction