The illusion of choice: Why I might have to give up my social work career to take care of my child

“At what point does staying home with the kids make better financial sense?”

Why It Matters

The social impact sector is largely made up of women workers — women make up 80 percent of the non-profit workforce alone. Many of these women, like the author of this essay, take on a disproportionate share of caregiving for family members. To be more resilient, the sector will need to better support and accommodate caregivers, and that starts with understanding their experiences.

In my third year of university, I wrote a paper on the illusion of choice of mothers who are forced to choose between pursuing a career and raising a family full time. In the paper, I pointed out the root causes of the problem; patriarchy and neo-conservative government policies. I critiqued the devaluing of social reproduction and care work. I had a list of recommendations and made an impassioned plea for a better understanding of the problem, a national childcare program and more support for all mothers. 

But I was not personally invested in the story beyond theories and jargon. I was filled with a level of arrogance that only the naive can afford. Surely, I would not face this particular problem. 

I figured I would only marry a man who wanted to share the duties of raising a family equally. I also knew that as a social worker, I would not be working for corporation

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