‘Working part-time’ is a total misnomer for working parents. It sounds like an innocent descriptor to categorise people not working full-time – giving a neat definition to statisticians and HR departments across the country – but over the years it has accumulated such baggage and become so gendered, that it hurts a lot more working parents’ careers than it helps.
Whether you have kids or not, how many times have you heard statements like ‘She only works part time’ or ‘That project would have been finished earlier but he is working part-time’? Or “‘We’ve had to allow her to go part-time’?
Almost one-third of the Australian workforce is employed part-time. Within that is a significant portion of working parents trying to do the big juggle between work and family. When a parent starts working part-time, it brings with it instant judgement and new perceptions in the workplace.
The fact a person might not sit at their desk for five (or six) days a week, putting in 12 hours a day, does not preclude them from contributing or leading.
Talking about part-time work also hurts men who want to reduce their hours at the office in order to be a bigger part in their kids’ lives. As Annabel Crabb argues in The Wife Drought, we need to do all we can to encourage women to step back into the workforce and all we can to help men step out.