#TalkingMotherhood Event Report: How to Achieve Your Dreams by Having a Thriving Partnership and a Family Life
#TalkingMotherhood Event Report: #TalkingMotherhood Event Report: How to As a company, we believe in contributing to creating a society where motherhood is seen as an advantage - not a hindrance, setback or penalty. How do we do that? It is certainly easier said than done. We held a second #TalkingMotherhood event in Dubai to explore this topic further.
“We believe motherhood only adds to who we already are by making us stronger, more confident, determined, purposeful, loving and capable than ever before." -Yoko Shimada, Founder of Mitera
We all know this deep inside. That experience of motherhood makes us stronger, more compassionate and passionate, more loving and caring, and purposeful and dedicated. Yet study after study has shown that the Motherhood Penalty, the social perceptions of mothers, grossly undermines what moms are truly capable of and how they deserve to be treated.
A study by the University of Chicago found that, mothers compared to their counterparts without children were judged as significantly less competent and committed, were held to harsher performance and punctuality standards where they were allowed significantly fewer times of being late to work, and they needed a significantly higher score on the management exam than nonmothers before being considered hirable (judged to be less intelligent). Similarly, recommended starting salary for mothers was $11,000 (7.4%) less than that offered to nonmothers, a significant difference. Mothers were also rated as significantly less promotable and were less likely to be recommended for management.
The same study also found that fathers were advantaged over childless men in several ways, being seen as more committed to paid work and being offered higher starting salaries. Furthermore, the study, through an audit study of hiring practices, proved that mothers experience hiring discrimination based on their status.
Another summary of economic research, Crittenden (2001) concludes that, for those under the age of 35, the pay gap between mothers and nonmothers is larger than the pay gap between men and women.
“...science doesn’t support the notion that a woman’s brain becomes somehow impaired or weakened by giving birth; in fact, the research seems to show the opposite.”
So, why haven’t the societal perceptions of motherhood changed when other studies scientifically proved that the experience of motherhood makes women better at work? Dr. Pilyoung Kim, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Denver whose studies found that some parts of the brain of a mother actually grew (after she gave birth) where there were significant structural growth in several brain regions, including the prefrontal cortex region, which is involved in decision making, learning, and regulating our feelings and thoughts. Amy Hederson of Tendlab through her research, “discovered that parenthood neurologically primes us to develop specific skills which are not only relevant but necessary for success in the workplace of the rapidly approaching future.” Mothers bring a significant and scientifically proven set of skills to the workplace. For example, parenting tends to improve emotional intelligence, which helps in dealing with and managing the relationships with co-workers, superiors and subordinates. Parenting also teaches us that we must accept our children for who they are and adapt to their needs and wants. We as parents, in turn, learn how to nurture the best in others at home and the office, which is key to being a great organizer/leader.
“The transition to motherhood is so complex + extraordinary that it touches every aspect of our lives.”
Motherhood changes us in the most profound way. Some of these changes are so dramatic that we may lose touch with our center while we focus our attention on birthing, bonding with our infant and caring for one or multiple babies. But that does not mean that moms leave their passion, ambition, and goals in the delivery room. In fact, for many moms, the opposite rings true. The moment we give birth, we welcome a new life into the world and we become more driven to make an impact, to grow businesses, and to work for something that's bigger than ourselves.
Many moms in our #Miteramama community are navigating at times delicate and fluid space of leaning into motherhood and at the same time pursuing their own ambitions. So we decided to explore this topic a bit more and recently hosted another exclusive women empowerment event in Dubai to understand what it means to find and achieve your dreams, not despite having kids but through having a thriving partnership and family life. Through our workshop, we aimed to help women realize in both meanings of the word: the power and potential of motherhood. If you are still in doubt about women’s ambition and commitment to their careers and realizing their dreams, read on as we highlight the stories of incredible women ready to change the status quo.
Results from our Pre-Event Survey
[Your Hopes and Dreams]
In the pre-event survey, ~80% of women (¾ of all the attendees were moms) responded that they have a desire to start something based on their interests, expertise, strengths and/or talents while only ~8% of them have already started working on realizing their dreams. (*Blue = yes, Red= no, Yellow = already doing)
To the question of whether they have actual dreams, goals, or plans that they want to work towards in achieving especially while they are living abroad, 65% of them indicated that they do.
Specifically, people are interested in starting their own businesses, furthering their education, learn a new language, advancing their knowledge base by taking online courses, working part-time, etc.
[Do you discuss your dreams with your partner?]
To the question of whether people discuss their hopes and dreams with their partner, ~68% of the attendees stated they do where ~27% of them said they talk about them often. (* Blue = often, Red = sometimes, Yellow = almost never, Green = never, Partner = do not have a partner)
Similarly, ~65% of them said they listen to their partner’s hopes and dreams where ~24% of them said they listen to them often. These results indicate that the communication between the partners regarding their dreams and goals is generally well maintained. (* Blue = often, Red = sometimes, Yellow = almost never, Green = never, Purple = do not have a partner)
Yoko, a mother of two and the founder of Mitera was joined by Elie Inoue, an energetic and talented independent fashion journalist residing in Paris, France. Though not yet a mother, she provided a valuable perspective of a motivated young woman who made a solo move abroad to pursue a career in fashion journalism and build her career from scratch. Similar to the last event, two women - one a mother, the other, a non-mother - provided their unique perspectives on the event’s topic of How to Achieve Your Dreams by Having a Thriving Partnership and Family Life.
The event was centered around a lively discussion by Yoko and Elie where they shared their own experiences of how they found their purpose, used their strengths to build and propel their careers and lives forward. They also discussed the balance of personal and family life with their careers and the importance of paying attention to both in order for women to thrive.
All 40 spots were filled within a few hours of the event announcement and more than 50 people, including those who were on the waiting list and supporting spouses and kids attended the event. We were delighted that there were more men attending this event than last time! Among the many generous sponsors, Babies and Beyond provided 3 professional nannies to provide childcare at the event to help make the attendance easier for the many moms who attended. Clarion school provided a beautiful and well equipped venue for the event. The gift bags were filled with items and gift cards by generous sponsors including Fujiya, a Japanese restaurant, and Sprii, an online store for moms, Prime Gourmet and Emaan Home. Chateraise, a Japanese sweet shop provided us with delicious pastries. Other sponsors include the Japanese bookstore Kinokuniya. And the event photography was provided by a talented photographer, Lidiya Kalichuk.
While the discussion focused on the intersection of two event themes: how to realize and pursue your own dreams and how to harness and take advantage of your personal and family life (instead of seeing them as obstacles, for example) in order to live your best life, it also covered specific topics related to questions that attendees submitted prior to the event.
[How to Make personal and Family life (instead of seeing them as obstacles, for example) Work For You To Create Your Best Life]
Reading literature on working motherhood, it is easy to fall into the trap of believing that having kids traps you in a mommy-track at work and it can sometimes be considered as an obstacle to building a career, let alone a personal life.
It sounds bleak. But the initial discussion with two panelists, Elie and Yoko revealed some crucial points regarding the intersection of family and personal life and finding your purpose and building the best life for yourself.
Elie credits her independence, ability to take risks and diving into the unknown with optimism to her upbringing having been raised by a loving and strong-minded single mother. “After building up my journalism career from scratch in NYC, I knew I had built the competence and confidence for a new adventure. I thought, why not Paris? I always dreamt of living in Paris. So, I decided to move to Paris and I never looked back”, Elie said.
For Yoko, two of life’s biggest defining moments inspired and catapulted her into her chosen career paths. First was her father’s untimely death from a complication from Hepatitis C infection which he contracted from a blood transfusion from a hospital in Japan when the government’s policy at the time did not dictate the transfusion blood to be screened for certain infectious diseases. This experience forced her to examine how health policies (or lack thereof) could affect the life outcomes of a person and motivated her to pursue a career not in medicine but in public health.
After spending more than a decade working in international health, the birth of her first child opened her eyes to yet another public issue that is often not discussed openly - the plight of working mothers. “I was compelled to do something because I was just so shocked about the state of moms trying to have a family while having a career. I saw it as a silent crisis and it gave me a vision of what I maybe able to do to change it for the better”, Yoko said.
[Vision Board Exercise: What Do We Look Like 10 Years From Now?]
Experts and life success stories support the idea that having a vision helps one to succeed far beyond what he or she could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Crafting a life vision is like mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams because without a vision, you may allow other people and circumstances to dictate the course of your life.
As these two women’s stories demonstrated, life events, circumstances and personal experiences can help you realize or discover a new passion, motivate you to start something new and achieve something far greater than you could imagine possible.
In order to try to live your best life, Yoko shared with the group that “it is important to take opportunities to reflect, try to understand your likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses while also reflecting upon the current situation you are in, such as being a mother, having a partner, living abroad, etc., and view them as positive aspects for opportunities for personal growth”. It is easier said than done, but she also stressed that it is important to lead your kids by example rather than just telling them how they want them to grow up. “Show them how you are challenging yourself and taking risks,” she said.
In the second half of the event, the attendees participated in a workshop where each person was asked to draw on a piece of paper, within 10 min, a picture of what she (he - some husbands attended!), his/her family, society, and the world would look like in 10 years.
The 50 or so attendees were divided into 8 groups later where each participant presented his/her drawing to the group. Each group had a lively presentation and discussion session moderated by a team member from Mitera. After the group discussions, a representative from each of the 8 groups stood up and presented her drawing and explanation of her vision to the whole audience.
The reaction to the workshop was extremely positive. In the post event anonymous survey, many shared that the process of drawing rather than writing helped them organize their thoughts better and that having this type of opportunity to reflect on themselves or as a couple was especially valuable. Several participants remarked that they planned to have their husbands try the exercise at home. Some key feedback were:
- “This exercise really helped me think seriously about what ‘I’ really want.”
- “I am not really good at thinking or planning long term so this was a great opportunity to do so.”
- “I was stimulated and motivated by listening to other people’s dreams, aspirations, visions and plans for the future. It was really interesting to meet new people and listen to different perspectives.”
- “It was really fun. I want to do it again!”
- “It was interesting to see different visions of the future coming out from people who are in similar circumstances.”
<Post event remark>
“I felt the amazing energy coming from this group!”, Yoko said after the event. This event was indeed filled with women (and men) who were motivated, intellectually curious, and thirsty for knowledge and connections. They all came ready to engage and share their thoughts with others whom they might have never met. While some may have been unsure about what they might get out from attending the type of event, by the end of it, everyone looked inspired and determined to take advantage of the key take-away and new found friendships from the event. We cannot wait to see them convert their own take-aways from the event into actionable results!
Some feedback from the participants post-event were:
- “It was as much fun as valuable. I would love to participate again in future events.”
- “It was such an inspirational event listening to two women who are taking risks and pursuing their dreams. Thank you!”
- “The event was a breath of fresh air in my daily life. It really motivated me to start something for myself.”
- “I attended with my husband and it was a great opportunity for us to reflect and see each other’s point of view in an objective way. Thank you.”
- “Loved the aura of the two panelists! While I admire them so much, they inspire me to get out of my comfort zone and try something new.”
Special thanks to the immensely talented and dedicated Mitera Mom-terns who live and breath Mitera's philosophy and without whom this event would not have been possible.
Photo credits to all the photos: Lidiya Kalichuk