Can a new mum still be a great Mayor?

Apparently, a woman can’t be the Mayor of a town and raise a young family at the same time.

So says Labor Councillor Tony Hay, who has taken it upon himself to share his concerns about the new mayor of the Hills in New South Wales with his fellow councillors.

Michelle Byrne, who was voted into the Mayoral position last week, is also a mother of twin baby girls.


In an email addressed to all councillors and council staff, Hay commented:
“We can expect the deputy mayor to fulfil most of the popular duties of a mayor who is predominated with motherhood rather than mayoralhood.”

As if isn’t hard enough for working mums to balance work and family – now they have to be ridiculed and bullied for doing so.

The last time I checked, it was perfectly acceptable for women to be working full-time in high-pressure careers, even if they have young children. I think it might even fall under the “mind your own business” section of the constitution.

Fortunately, Hay’s out-dated views seem to me in the minority. Liberal Cr Mike Thomas said he was horrified by Cr Hay’s remarks, telling the media, “I thought they were very misogynistic and I think he should apologise for them.”

Meanwhile, a number of businesses are slowly starting to introduce more flexibility for women who are returning to the workforce. Overseas, online TV streaming giant Netflix has introduced unlimited maternity leave, which allows their female employees up to 12 months of paid leave after having a baby.

It’s a step in the right direction, but this recognition of a woman’s valuable contribution to the economy and the workforce should be far more widespread.

I’m confident that Byrne will demonstrate that a woman can be a new mum and still be a great Mayor. Just like Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, will likely continue to kick corporate goals when she returns to work after welcoming her twins at Christmas.

Being a mother – even to young children – doesn’t make you incompetent, or suggest that you won’t be able to handle a senior position.

It can make you tired, no doubt, but it also means you can multi-task like no-body’s business, prioritise with ruthless efficiency, and achieve in one hour what used to take you three. Productivity is, after all, part of a mother’s most valuable currency.

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