Why is it that 20% of women leave for marriage, maternity and paternity leave are not utilized? Take you from the social, policy and implementation aspects to explore the current employment environment, women face the maternal dilemma and solutions.

In a case where the two parties cooperate, you give 99.9% of your strength in the early stage, and 100% of the risk in the process is borne by you; In the later stage, your contribution to maintenance varies from 85%, depending on how much effort the other party is willing to pay. The results are credited with the other person's name, and there is a high probability that your career will stagnate or regress.
There is a 30% probability that the case will end in failure, and how much you will lose after failure is impossible to measure. There is no guarantee in the contract, only the character of the partner. It's perfectly normal that someone wouldn't want to sign this contract.

The above is excerpted from the PTT discussion board, this cooperation project is called "having children".

This is a meme that has become quite popular on the Internet recently, with many comments saying that the content exaggerates women's fear of "having children", and other comments mention that "having children" is not a transaction, and the amount paid by both parties is difficult to measure.

However, regardless of whether the meme content has doubts about its concept and appropriateness, the speed at which it is quickly spread shows that young Internet users' anxiety about fertility cannot be ignored.

Photo by Laura Ohlman on Unsplash

Do you know what "prenatal blues" is? This is not surprising, but about 14% to 23% of pregnant women have symptoms of "prenatal depression", that is, nearly 2 out of every five pregnant women still suffer from "melancholic symptoms" even if they do not have a clear "depression".

Among them, according to the data, only a small number of people face up to depression and receive proper assistance and treatment.

(Extended reading: Mom and Dad, postpartum depression symptoms are very different)

According to a study co-published by Jonathan Evans, a senior lecturer in psychiatry at the University of Bristol and his researchers, the chance of developing depression around 18 weeks of pregnancy was 11.8%, and increased to 13.5% by 32 weeks of pregnancy; The proportion of patients suffering from depression at 8 weeks postpartum was 9.1%, and 8.1% within 8 months after giving birth.

It can be seen that women are more likely to suffer from "prenatal depression (excluding depression-related symptoms)" than "postpartum depression", but the vast majority of people have a relatively insufficient understanding of "prenatal blues" and related symptoms.

Nearly two in ten women leave their jobs because they are "married", why?

We all want to live in a world where people with different life stages, life choices, roles and physical and mental conditions are kind, understanding and supportive; However, although the ideal is abundant, the reality is always skinny.

According to statistics from the Ministry of Labor in 2020, nearly 20% of married women left their jobs due to marriage, and nearly 40% of them have since left the workplace and no longer have the conditions for economic independence; Among them, about 39.9% of married women left their jobs because they were "preparing to have children (or getting pregnant)", while another 14% left the workforce because of "housework".

(Guess what you want: How do you achieve financial independence?) Doing So Financially Independently: Setting Financial Goals and Developing Financial Habits|Women's Finance)

Compared with the statistics of the Comptroller's Office of the Administrative Agency in 2017, 38.65% of the women aged 15 to 64 who are currently working have left their jobs due to marriage or childbirth (pregnancy), and the relevant proportion has not increased but decreased.

Among the above-mentioned women who left their jobs because they were preparing to have children (or become pregnant), 59.9% were reinstated, and the average reinstatement interval was about 4 years and 5 months, while the reinstatement rate itself was observed that women under the age of 54 were more difficult to return to the workplace, and among women aged 55 to 64, the proportion of women returning to the workplace dropped to 56.8%, and the interval between reinstatement gradually increased with age.

Photo by The Jopwell Collection on Unsplash

Looking at the current "manager" structure in Taiwan's workplace, it is not difficult to imagine how many opportunities a woman will give up to compete with men of the same age for better salaries, conditions and positions between 4 years and 5 months after she leaves the workplace?

Even if some women take another path - "entrepreneurship" as another way to pursue self-practice with a higher degree of time, environment and freedom, the proportion of opportunities and funds for female entrepreneurs to obtain venture capital investment is still far lower than that of male entrepreneurs in the world.

(Same scene plus screening: husband and wife start a business together, but only the wife is asked: how to maintain a balance between family and work?) Reflections of PopChill co-founders)

Why do you say that? According to the 2019 HSBC research report, 35% of female entrepreneurs worldwide still encounter gender bias challenges when raising funds, and in addition to raising less capital than male entrepreneurs, it will take longer to achieve their goals. This result is also due to structural problems in the "venture capital circle".

Taking the United States, where venture capital is the most mature and prevalent, as an example, women only account for 11% of the total number of venture capitalists, and under such strict conditions, only about 12% of the funds in 2018 went to startups with female founding teams, which shows that women encounter more obstacles than men due to "gender" in the entrepreneurial process.

(Extended reading: "Ninety percent of women are willing to start a business, but only three percent practice" How should female entrepreneurs face the pull of family and career?

It can be seen that women, as "mothers", want to obtain self-practice in the workplace or career at the same time, and they must work harder, more and harder than male workers with the same resources, experience, and conditions, in order to have the opportunity to get similar "possibilities".

This is not to ignore men's efforts and amplify women's sacrifices, but to interpret the differences in the body and various social conditions more clearly.

From this as a starting point, society, families, and workplaces can imagine true fairness, not equality at the same time, but taking into account the differences in many conditions, and providing more inclusive benefits and policies to support and empower women.

Reduce workplace thrust and reduce home pull

As mentioned earlier, the symptoms of "prenatal depression" in modern women are no less than "postpartum blues", and many people will ask: What is it that troubles and oppresses women to derive a lot of anxiety after the "two lines"? Why do pregnancy and childbirth continue to play a role in "forcing choices" for women's career development? Between being a mother and being true to yourself, why is there never a way to have both?

To explore the full picture of the problem, its composition is quite complex, but we can still divide it into two aspects:

1. Workplace push: Unfriendly work environment

In 1990, the first version of the Gender Work Equality Law was sent, which received a strong backlash from many enterprises, and the law was maliciously frozen in the Legislative Yuan for ten years, and it was not successfully passed for the third reading until 2002, Taiwan's women's careers were finally protected on the "source of law", but from "law" to "policy" to real "implementation", it is another matter.

Photo by The Jopwell Collection on Unsplash

Has the situation of women, especially after pregnancy, improved in the workplace over the past 20 years? According to data from local labor bureaus in 2019, pregnancy discrimination accounted for 16 of the 33 gender work equality complaints in a single month, accounting for nearly half of them.

"Why is she so selfish, she often takes leave after pregnancy, and her work has to be done by others."
"She has a big belly and does her work easily."
"She was in a trance after she was pregnant, and she was completely out of the situation, how can such a person be competent for the job?"
"If someone in the department is pregnant, it is equivalent to one less position that cannot be filled, what is the use of keeping her?"

Misogynistic episodes can be seen everywhere with colleagues of both sexes. In the vast majority of complaints, the largest number of cases of female employees being informed of their pregnancy before they arrive at work and employers conveniently refused on the grounds that "the job is not suitable for pregnant women" abound, and in the vast majority of complaints, the largest number of cases were "dismissed on the grounds of incompetence on the grounds of incompetence for the job the day after notification of pregnancy", showing that even if the "legal evidence" is justified, the unreasonable reality still persecutes women's rights to seek employment, work, and even promotion throughout Taiwan.

2. Family pull: Fathers who are undersupported and absent from society and family

As of 2019, a total of 705,000 people benefited from the benefits of childcare and leave without pay under the Gender Work Equality Law, of which 583,000 were women, accounting for 82.6% of the total; However, only 122,000 men (17.4%) applied for childcare to remain without pay; Even in 2022, the ratio of men to women applying for parental leave fluctuated for the first time in a decade, with only 25.5% of men applying for stay, and the remaining seventy to five remain women.

From the actual ratio of men and women who apply for childcare leave without pay, we can see that whether in terms of economic conditions or division of care, family structure adjustment is limited, and society still generally regards women as the main caregivers of families and young children.

Even with the surge in the number of dual-income families today, the vast majority of women still have to pull between "wife", "mother", "self" and even more roles, and the public and private spheres are sandwiched, making women incompetent.

(Read more: Superstars are mothers too!) "Celine Dion Gaiden: The Power of Love" character conflicts are constant, and the most important thing in life is only known by yourself)

Many excellent people can find their own way of survival in this and become "all-encompassing" women; However, there are more opportunities for women's careers, salary increases and promotions, which are thus ruined in these "obligations" and "roles" that should not be borne by women alone.

Of course, there are many women around us who have the ability to "do everything", but we must also understand what hinders and troubles them when up to 20% of women "plan to leave the workplace" after childcare is stopped, so that there is no win-win possibility of balancing motherhood and self-pursuit?

Create a win-win situation: what do Finland, Sweden and Germany do?

In response to the declining fertility rate for nine years, the Finnish government introduced the latest maternity benefit policy in 2020, allowing new parents to have more than 7 months of paid maternity leave, and couples can also transfer according to the division of labor and status quo.

Also in Europe, many countries have proposed corresponding welfare policies for childbirth, such as: Sweden, which provides the most generous "paid maternity leave" benefits, provides 240 days of maternity leave for both parents, and Germany has actively encouraged men to take real vacations, go home to childcare, and provide parents with flexible extension to 14 months of maternity leave.

Photo by John Looy on Unsplash

As for why paid maternity leave is so important? According to a 2018 study in the Maternal and Child Health Journal, paid maternity leave can effectively reduce the "rehospitalization rate" of mothers and babies, and at the same time, mothers who do take maternity leave are also relatively healthier in mental health, and the demand for counseling is reduced by about 50% compared to mothers who do not take maternity leave.

Behind the maternity leave, it represents a period of adaptation for parents to enter a new lifestyle, through this paid childcare time, so that both parents can support each other and redistribute the roles they play in family life; While adjusting the pace and pace of parenting, they also take into account their own physical and mental health, and give each other time and space for rest, exercise, and stress management.

(Extended reading: It's not that I gave birth to a child, but that he was ready to leave me: "homeopathic production" changed my relationship with the child and body)

In this regard, foreign studies have also found that women who do perform maternity leave can confidently deal with the balance between family and the workplace after returning to the workplace.

However, many people will say that although maternity leave is both a right and a benefit, for many relatively conservative Asian work environments, does "maternity leave" really exist smoothly, without discrimination, and without jeopardizing opportunities and promotions? It is also a problem faced by many people.

(Read more: Gender Alert | Create a parent-friendly environment!) Maternity leave increased to seven days, and spouses are also entitled to seven days of paternity and paternity leave)

In an interview with the BBC, Assistant Professor Kim Hye-won of Seoul National University said that most Asian government policies and initiatives on childbirth, childcare and paid maternity leave have not been able to solve the workplace problems prevalent in East Asian societies.

"It is undeniable that workplace culture in Asian societies is not conducive to healthy family life. In South Korea, for example, we have legal working hours, and maternity and paternity leave are institutionally guaranteed, but the usage rate is low. In particular, the use rate of 'paternity leave' for men is extremely low, which is actually a problem of implementation."

Photo by The Jopwell Collection on Unsplash

This is also why women fans have constantly emphasized the importance of corporate implementation of DEI in the past period, followed by "welfare" and "policy", people have to claim their rights, which is bound to be accompanied by a change in corporate thinking.

Employees exist as "ends" rather than "means" to grow together with the company. How can the connection between employees' careers and careers be more painless, and anyone's career choice can be accepted, respected and treated kindly in a field such as the workplace, so that it is possible to promote more comprehensive changes.

(Read more: A must-see for organizational transformation!) Analyze 3 kinds of employee and company dependencies, retain talents to improve psychological safety)

The implementation of DEI has the opportunity to make workers aware and get rid of the discriminatory prejudice of marriage and childbirth, communicate with family members and employers more actively, plan appropriate career development and stage rest paths, and organizations can provide stage support more flexibly, so that the workplace becomes a more friendly environment for marriage and childbearing workers, and support workers' marriage and childbirth plans.

Let fertility and career no longer have to choose one of the two, and the organization will not only passively lose talents, but women can develop themselves, enterprises can retain talents, and the society can be more friendly and supportive, so as to achieve the possibility of win-win for individuals, families, workplaces and society.