Maternity leave and the capabilities and ambitions of women who are also mothers has hit the headlines again this week highlighting a view apparently not shared by David Cameron but certainly revealing the sexism, unconscious bias and outdated views of one male MP when it comes to parenting and politics.
Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell, the MP for Romford, spoke in relation to pregnant shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves stating : “I don’t want to say someone who is having a baby is not eligible to be a cabinet minister, but I certainly think perhaps the demands of that particular job will require someone to give it their full attention.
“I don’t expect Rachel Reeves to be in the cabinet after the election because I expect the Conservatives to win, but clearly people need to be put in the positions they can handle.”
Sadly Mr Rosindell’s comment highlight a lack of understanding around modern motherhood which can involve a mother returning to work in a relatively short time and managing their pregnancy and transition to motherhood with planning, professionalism and poise.
A spokesman for the prime minister said maternity leave should be a universal right and that it was “entirely a matter for individual families to take the decisions that they think are right for them and the government’s job to support them in those decisions that they take”.
I am assuming Mr Rosindell has no idea of the structure, planning in progress or family set up in place. Had he spoken to Ms Reeve’s or read her interview with the Telegraph over the weekend, he may have learnt that this is her 2nd child and whilst it is due five weeks after the general election, she has immediate plans to act upon if she is placed in cabinet and also intends to return to her post in September.
There are many examples of women who have risen in their careers whilst also creating children including Helena Morrissey, Natalie Massenet, Nicola Horlick, and Marissa Mayer. I suggest Mr Rosindell look at these women’s achievements before he comments again on a what a mother or mother-to-be can handle.