According to a report published by the World Bank Group last year, India has the lowest female labour force participation rates in the world. Another study conducted by the ASSOCHAM Social Development Foundation in 2016 found that 40 percent of working mothers quit their jobs to raise children.
Balancing motherhood and a career is a tough bargain, no doubt. Responsibilities grow, health concerns come into the picture; but women are expected to handle it all. Often, women are faulted for wanting to work while raising a child. If they don’t do enough at work, their careers are written off by narrow-minded employers. And if they seek a support system at home, well, the patriarchal conditioning takes care of it.
But while there is no immediate relief from these underlying problems, working mothers can do a few things to maintain their footing. And these books can help them with a few tricks up their sleeve.
Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg and Nell Scovell
In 2010, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg gave a TED-Talk on how the ways of the world hold women back from living the life they want. The response it gathered was extraordinary, with viewers sharing their stories from around the world. This inspired Sheryl to pen down stories from her personal experiences, highlighting gender differences and the kind of problems it creates for women. She co-authored Lean In with television writer Nell Scovell, and published it in 2013. In this book, Sandberg also offers advice on mentorship, risk-taking, and negotiating your way through the male-dominated world of business.
Lady, You’re Not A Man by Apurva Purohit
Most working moms seek balance between managing their family and work. But the burden that comes with sharp deadlines, terrible bosses, rebellious children, and society’s expectations can be extremely daunting. In this book, Purohit, one of India’s top businesswomen, shows how women can have kids and achieve their full potential too. She talks about everything from training interns, handling husbands, to dealing with emergencies through real-life stories and anecdotes. This one is the perfect self-help weekend read for working moms struggling with the balancing act.
Babies and Bylines by Pallavi Aiyar
A memoir on parenting by award-winning journalist and author Pallavi Aiyar, Babies and Bylines gives the readers a glimpse into how working mothers often have to battle the deep roots of patriarchy. In her own fun and witty narrative, Aiyar brings out the gender-stereotyping and conditioning that causes issues for women. She delves into the problems of employment bias, post-partum depression, fathers, and how sometimes facing the tide is better than asking Google. The book will make you “Oh, yeah!” often because of how relatable it is.
A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan
This is a story about Alice - a mother - who thought she had it all figured out. But as it often happens in life, it all came tumbling down. The novel by Egan, a renowned editor based in New Jersey, will have you laughing out loud in parts, bursting in tears, and feeling better about yourself as a mom. It explores the complexities of family and motherhood with brilliant writing and spot-on familiarity. Overall, Egan has managed to weave a beautiful and bittersweet story with plenty of life lessons. It’s the perfect pick-me-up read when you’re feeling out of sorts!
I Just Want to Pee Alone by Some Kickass Mom Bloggers
Juggling the mom-life and work-life can be exhausting and demanding to the point of struggling for a bathroom break. In this collection of essays, authors from across the world have put together 37 stories that’ll have you giggling and wanting for more. The tales take you through the ups and downs of motherhood and just life in general. This is a light-hearted read, sure to put you in a good mood after a long week.
(Edited by Athira Nair)