Working mother's worst enemy: Childless female colleague

Angry colleague

A working mum's worst enemy is the childless female colleague or manager who resents her need for flexible working hours, a survey has found.

A national survey found mothers said male co-workers were more understanding of parenting issues that had an impact on work.

Of the 1000 participants, 21 percent said they believed childless working women were the least understanding, reported.

Seven percent of mums reported that their male colleagues were less tolerant than their childless female co-workers and 41 per cent said both were intolerant.

And 67 per cent said they feared asking their employer for more flexible working conditions would negatively affect their career prospects.

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick said attitudes to flexible working arrangements would only truly change once men were also asking for flexible hours.

"Any number of mums with young babies asking for flexibility will not change the predominant culture," Broderick said.

"The thing that will change that will be men and more senior (ranking) men asking to work more flexibly," she said.

Managing editor of mother, which conducted the online poll, Bonita Mersiades, said the worrying result indicated a gap between federal legal requirements and women's actual experience.

Working parents of pre-school children have the right to request flexible working conditions under National Employment Standards in the Fair Work Act that came into effect in 2010.

"Clearly, mothers feel a stigma still exists and there is a long way to go with improving tolerance in the workplace as well as building the confidence of working mothers," Mersiades said.

"Women in the workplace who haven't had children don't realise there are so many things in a family situation that could crop up.

"They probably may not see themselves as being there and doing that one day," she added.

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