In Tonight’s programme: Kids vs Career, new mum, TV presenter and adventurer Helen Skelton asks: in 21st century Britain, can women really have it all?
According to a Tonight poll, a whopping 60 percent of people think both having a good career, and being a good mum, is an impossible task - something Helen is finding out for herself!
Helen’s no stranger to a challenge. She has kayaked the Amazon river, cycled to the South Pole, and in April 2009, became the second woman ever to finish the 78-mile Namibian ultra marathon. But life has thrown her an altogether different task - motherhood - and now she’s finding out how difficult it is to juggle an international career with a new baby boy: Ernie.
“The question is - can I do both?” she asks.
Helen meets Professor Geeta Nargund, one of the UK’s top fertility experts who warns that career-driven women might miss out on having children if they leave it too late. She reveals the startling fact that if women want to have three children, they need to start trying ‘by the age of 23’!
Helen also meets Jack Morris, who gave up his job as a riot police officer in the Metropolitan police to become a full-time dad. And she wrestles with the guilt of leaving little Ernie at home while she goes to work.
According to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, one in nine women say that they were dismissed, made redundant, or made to leave their job because they were pregnant. That equates to potentially 54,000 women a year: up from 30,000 just 10 years ago.
Helen meets mum-of-two Joeli Brearley, who set up a website called Pregnant then Screwed after her contract with a client was terminated, she believes, due to her pregnancy (something the client denies). The site has prompted hundreds of women to contact Joeli.
Helen believes that the battle for equality isn’t over yet: