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  1. Blog
  2. Career Trajectories

How 3 Moms Made Career Breaks Work for Their Trajectories

"Anything that costs you your mental health is too expensive"

Working mom with her child at a coffee shop
Photo courtesy of Nathan Dumlao

This article is part of InHerSight's Career Trajectories series. Women's career paths vary significantly. Hear from women themselves about the pivotal career decisions that have shaped their growth and success.

Women are three times more likely than men to take time away from their careers to care for children. And while sexism and gender roles are largely to blame for many women becoming default caregivers, there’s also nothing wrong with wanting to become a mom and to prioritize parenthood. Plenty of healthy partnerships land on that decision, regardless of societal norms.

The issues arise when, one, women aren’t adequately supported by their partners (that’s a discussion to have in the early months of dating and beyond) and, two, when hiring managers skate over the resumes of moms because they’ve pressed pause for a few months or years to put their families first. One of the most outdated mindsets in our workforce today is that a mother’s career isn’t progressing if she’s not nose deep in deliverables every day. Anyone who’s juggled the conflicting extracurricular schedules of three elementary schoolers knows parenting is just another way of leveling up.

Yet still, choosing to take a career break for your kids can be scary. You don’t know how it will impact your long-term goals and your finances, not to mention how you feel about yourself and whether you’ll struggle to reenter the workforce eventually. So, as part of InHerSight’s Career Trajectories series, we asked three women who’ve done it. Each took career breaks, got back into the workforce, and felt better for it. This is what they had to say about employment gaps and making motherhood their top priority.

Read more: 15 Companies Offering ‘Returnship’ or Return-to-Work Programs

3 working moms on taking career breaks to become stay-at-home parents 

Avanti Tilak

Senior Data Scientist at Gradient AI

What do you do?

I am a health care data scientist, using machine learning to predict patient costs and outcomes.

How did you get where you are?

I am an astronomer, but I left academia after my son was born. I am a self-taught data scientist. I mostly used online resources and local meetup groups to teach myself the basics. I then started doing freelance work in this field to gain experience. I eventually landed an internship with IBM geared toward women coming back into the workforce. 

What has most surprised you about your career?

How much grit and perseverance it required to get back into the workforce. It has been a great experience since then. My work is challenging, fun, and gives me the opportunity to keep learning. I get to work with smart and awesome people. I am sometimes surprised by how far I have come since I started this journey.

Heather Becker

Recruiter at Vesta Housing Inc.

What do you do?

I support multiple clients as an outsourced HR, recruiting, and/or strategic partner.

How did you get where you are?

Climbing the ladder the old-fashioned way, with a few years break to raise my children.

What has most surprised you about your career?

I was surprised how quickly I was able to rejoin the workforce after taking a break to raise my kids; it was incredibly terrifying to take the break, expecting it to negatively impact my career in the short term.  

Grace Ward

Customer Success Manager at InHerSight

What do you do?

I help organizations make the most out of their partnership with InHerSight, from setting up and optimizing their company profiles, to helping them to establish best practices for supporting their current and future employees, to connecting them with other team members who can use their expertise to support them in more specific ways. 

How did you get where you are?

My career up until the fall of 2020 was spent entirely in education—first as a teacher and then as a school principal. When the pandemic hit, my job was flipped upside down and every ounce of my energy and time was going to my work. At that time, I was newly pregnant and with all that was being required of me both physically and mentally in my role, I decided that I needed to take a step back and reevaluate my career for the sake of myself and my future family. So at six months pregnant, I quit my job and it was the best decision I've ever made. I got to enjoy the last part of my pregnancy and the first 6 months of my daughter's life, as well as truly take the time to decide what career path would both fulfill my professional goals and allow me to continue enjoying motherhood. 

What has most surprised you about your career?

There are two things I never expected when I began my career journey: (1) That I'd ever be a stay-at-home mom for any amount of time beyond a typical maternity leave, and (2) That I'd ever have the confidence to leave education. Becoming a mom gave me the push I needed to take a different path, and I could not be more grateful for where both my daughter and I ended up after our first six months together as a new team. 

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