From one Dream, to another Country.

It’s been four days since the proverbial curtains closed on Dream Country, and I’ve only just found the time and emotional strength to talk about one of the most enriching, demanding, beautiful, and intimidating experiences of my life (thus far, … Continue reading

Scenes from Sunday’s Rehearsal.

Remember that first huge combined Dream Country rehearsal last Sunday that I didn’t write about? I couldn’t find the right words then. But if a picture paints a thousand words… here’s a lot for you to think about. Sunday’s Rehearsal. … Continue reading

Maternity Madness

“After only four months in her new job as a client relationship manager at a global firm, Esther (not her real name) was doing well, pulling in S$250,000 in sales.So when the 30-year-old found out that she was one-month pregnant with her second child, she was not worried – rather, she felt that it was “only right” to inform her company so that it could plan ahead.

But the company dropped a bombshell: “I was on leave, on a short vacation overseas, when the company wrote to me to say I had been terminated. No reason given, nothing,” said Esther.

When she returned to work and pursued the matter, she was told by her human resource department that it was a “management decision” and she would be compensated one month’s salary.”

Above is an extract from ‘When having a baby changes your life … Wrongful dismissal complaints filed by pregnant women up 33%‘ an article by Teo Xuanwei in the Today paper.

In a country that considers her limited population to be its only natural resource, and has been desperately trying to bring up its birth rates for years, this piece of news just feels so…wrong.

I am not even remotely close to being a mother, yet the dissatisfaction from the lack of balance in my life when I was working has already made me take a long break. That is why I bow down to my friends who are working mothers. From waking at 5am to cook the entire family’s meals for the whole day before going to work; to those who have no time for themselves because they are juggling work and studies and young children and elderly parents; to those who stay back long after office hours to finish up as much work as they can so they can focus on spending quality time with their children… the working mothers I know all make huge sacrifices to fulfill their obligations both at work and at home, and I believe they deserve better.

Sure, some may argue that if we were to examine the article closely, there were “only” 112 such cases of wrongful dismissal complaints. However, it is wrong to assume that every female member of our workforce who gets wrongfully dismissed will file such a complaint; or have the means, knowledge, or resources to get in touch with someone who can render some form of help. Many will resign to their fates and start looking for their next source of employment because there is no point fighting with a company. Many will suffer in silence. And many, many more, will accept that they are as redundant as their companies have made them feel. After all, tough as nails as we all are normally, losing your livelihood out of the blue can send anybody’s world into a tailspin.

And while I acknowledge that most employers are supportive of their employees (or at least obliged to be due to legal reasons ), being dismissed because you were biologically designed to be the one carrying a baby into term is just ridiculous.

Why should women have to sacrifice the quality of their lives and risk losing their income when they wish to become mothers?

Why should women have to choose between getting pregnant and their careers?

Since when did pregnancy become a disability?

People never cease to remind us that our biological clocks are tick-tocking away, yet when the intrepid ones amongst us who are amazing enough to handle work and family and a growing belly obey their body clocks (and their government), they are punished for it.

Doesn’t seem right, does it?

Workplace Warfare

Q and I finally got round to having breakfast together and the sports car-driving Miss Legs took me to Cedele for some coffee, scones and toast. (Trans Atlantic, eh?) Unfortunately, we had so much to update each other on that we forgot to take pictures of our glamourous breakfast, and the above arse-faced picture that is all you are getting.

At the centre of our exuberant discussion was our place in the working world. More specifically, the place of young women in the modern working world. Young women who were capable, hardworking and candid. Young women who should be successful, but are instead sidelined, passed over, thumbed down and called names.

Though Q and I worked in vastly different fields, the challenges we face are the same. Because we are of a certain age – we are green/immature/ignorant. Because we are single – we can put in longer hours. Because we care about how we look and dress – we are considered bimbos/airheads/getting ahead with our looks. Because we stand up for what is right – we are aggressive. Because we speak up – we are b*tchy.

The bit that stings the most? That it’s not just the men who say/think that.

I’d recently read a great article by an artist and businesswoman I’d looked up to for years, Megan Hunt aka Princess Lasertron. In her piece, Megan touched on the general lack of support and encouragement (deserving) women receive in the business world.

To add on to what she has already pointed out so eloquently, what saddens me most is that there are other women, who probably experience the same uphill battles we have to fight at our workplace every day, just waiting tear us down. Just as depressing, are the young ladies we see using their tears and sweetheart appeal as bargaining chips to win themselves better schedules, easier tasks, and choice projects.

What happened to everyone pulling their own weight? What happened to doing your part and helping others along? Did I miss something somewhere?

How these female beings imagine they would win the respect of others around them, especially that of the opposite sex which they so frequently crave, I have no idea. Just as I have no clue as to how crying has come to equate power. All I know is that they give other women – women who are not afraid of hard work; women who embrace their intelligence; women who enjoy pitting themselves against the best, regardless of gender – a bad name.

Megan’s piece was quickly followed by Do unto others… by Sarah Parmenter… which in turn, linked me up to Rachel Andrew’s Be kind to one another. These two were reminders that people have to be respectful and decent about the way they communicate with others, especially in our Über wired world.

And at the heart of these articles is the question, do we need to be ‘thick skinned and aggressive’ in order to succeed?

To be fair, I have been most fortunate to have had many excellent female role models: Momo, my Upper Secondary Literature Teacher, my two supervisors at work (BEST. BOSSES. EVER.), the girls who share my cubicle, Ms F, Melb, WL, Shazza, Q herself… the list goes on. These women are successful. They know how to hold their own. They follow their moral compasses, yet are flexible enough to bend when they know their gut is right. They handle the trickiest situations with class. Most importantly, they treat the people around them with love and fairness.

Yet some of the experiences my girlfriends and I have had certainly suggest aggression is in order: pompous coworkers who barge into your workstations when you aren’t around because ‘it is shared property’, senior position holders giving their assistants bad grades purely due to incompatible working styles, colleagues who steal your pitches to pass them off as your own, bosses who badmouth you in public, or worst… in front of your charges.

Much as I’ve always maintained that being ”honest with your opinion and generous with your ideas” is the best way to go… Sometimes… just sometimes… I know deep down in my soul, that people have to be put in their places, and firmly so.

The fact remains, that be it man or woman, superior or subordinate, adult or child; we can all treat each other well, and with the due respect that any fellow human being deserves.

But should the respect due to you be ‘Very Little’, don’t be surprised if you are treated as such.

P/s: Haters… I’ll wear my falsies and fancy shoes if I want to, thankyouverymuch.