We often hear that women choose either career or family. However, should one choose but not combine? The EWC journalists interviewed Maria Serpukhovaya, postgraduate student of the Department of Labour and Personnel Economics at MSU, to discuss this issue. 

The topic of your thesis is ‘Balance between Family and Work in the System of Social and Labour Relations Management’. Why do you find this issue so important? How can women achieve this balance? 

If we approach this globally, we will find out that achieving certain goals is important for every country. For Russia, this goal is realization of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. One of its components is decent work that in its turn depends on pay equality, safe conditions, and balance between work and family. 

This topic is important for me because since my youth I have been combining family obligations, full-time education, and then work. 


It is difficult to find balance in this field. Nevertheless, balance is necessary to fully realise your potential in education and work. Such a schedule every day loads you with a number of questions. How to manage everything on time? How to make it good in all aspects? How not to regret about time spent?   

In my thesis research, I try to find an answer how to find this balance. My thesis is aimed at not only revealing the problematic aspects of combining family and professional obligations for different citizens (maybe not women only), but also at finding the most effective ways to address existing problems. Various programs that would contribute to greater opportunities for achieving this balance should be created and developed. They should cover not only the state authorities and the boards of companies, but also society as a whole. It is important that public opinion also supports this policy and overcomes stereotypes about women constantly sitting at home and always busy with children. Often within the framework of popularization of the so-called standards of correct education, motherhood is considered a profession. This idea makes combining family and professional obligations impossible. That is why we should destroy this belief and attract the attention of more women to this issue. Then balance between family and work will become achievable. 


Isn’t it necessary to choose between family and work today? 

– In my opinion, it isn’t. The modern world strengthens a dual-career family model. At the same time, with the advent of the internet, there are more and more opportunities for remote working or flexible working hours. This must contribute to professional and family fields and eliminate the necessity to choose. 

And yet, what is more important today, in the information society, career or family? 

– Despite the fact that nowadays we are trying to provide women with more professional obligations and fully integrate them in work, one can’t oppose what is coded genetically. In my opinion, this depends on the person’s choice. Some women succeed in family, and some do well in career. It is just important that the opportunity to choose activity isn’t limited by public stereotypes, job discrimination, and other factors. 


Equal labour of men and women is paid differently. How to oppose this? 

– Wage discrimination is being discussed for years. A number of measures are already taken to overcome it. Everything moves to equality, and I believe we will come to the solution of this problem taking small steps. At the same time, we should understand the employer’s situation. A young woman applies for a job and two or three years later she probably goes on maternity leave. In this case, the employer takes obligations for paying it and loses labour force. This is why men are workers that are more reliable. 

– You mentioned that one could work remotely. 

Yes. It is necessary to create conditions for remote working in order this could become a normal thing and popular trend. Probably, men should be more involved in family obligations. Why can’t men go on paternity leave and consider it a normal thing? 


– Russia somehow provides men with paternity leave. It is the wife’s parental leave or maternity leave that she may pass to her husband. However, only 2% of men use it. 

Today, Russia has no widespread tradition of official paternity leave due to the community standard according to which woman is naturally and historically a key element in family chores. That is why it is necessary to change the public opinion and promote paternity leave. This may contribute to creating balance between family and work for both women and men. 

– What stereotypes prevent women from career advancement? 

The employer is always skeptical when hiring a woman, especially with a child. There are two models of women in his or her mind: women mothers and women workers. 

The employer thinks that women mothers more often have breaks in work and sick leaves. In his or her opinion, being busy with maternity and domestic chores prevents women from focusing on professional obligations. In addition, absence on corporate events leads to isolation from collective. 

– Could you give some advice on how to overcome all obstacles in career? 

You should always listen to your heart. If you want to develop yourself, you will have to put a lot of effort. However, the feedback will be worth doing it. Every little achievement encourages us to do more. 

Yulia Yakovleva, news agency of the Eurasian Women’s Community

Translated by Nikolay Gavrilov