Do we have to use ‘part-time’ in the pejorative?

Amanda Milledge wants to hear your story.

Amanda Milledge, lawyer, NED and writer argues that part-time per se has to be viewed not as a second tier, second grade working title, but the new normal.

Recently I’ve spent time listening to her describe the book she’s authoring about the men and women who have found new ways of working without compromising success.  Engaged powerful part-timers is how she envisages work cultures developing.

She is also occupied with a project identifying tertiary qualified people who have carved out successful careers working in ways that depart from the traditional ideal worker.  That may include flexible, part-time, telecommuting or some other way that enables them to live a balanced life, in particular to do an equitable share of the domestic load.

Amanda Milledge’s argument is that a balanced life leads to more productivity and better decision making.

Right now, this argument has divided thinking, and the battle lines are drawn.

So why the fight and what is the coveted territory over which the battle is fought?

On one side of the territorial dispute stands Anne-Marie Slaughter who argues that it’s our inherent workplace structures and cultures that exclude very capable women who have sought to balance family life with working life. On the other side of the battle-line, the likes of Sheryl Sandberg  (COO of Facebook and Author of Lean In)  sees the lack of women in senior roles as a consequence of their reluctance to show ambition and put themselves forward for promotion.  She’s asking women to ‘man up’ rather than waiting for the tap on the shoulder, or compromising their careers by spending more time with their families.

Mary Matalin, who spent two years as an assistant to Bush and the counsellor to Vice President Dick Cheney before stepping down to spend more time with her daughters, wrote: “Having control over your schedule is the only way that women who want to have a career and a family can make it work.”

Yet the decision to step down from a position of power — to value family over professional advancement, even for a time — is directly at odds with the prevailing social pressures on career professionals in most western countries.

If you’d like to contribute, Amanda’s email address is  She’d enjoy hearing from you if you have a point of view, or particular experience on either side of the battle lines. She’s looking for male, female and organisational /cultural perspectives.

We’re also looking forward to hearing your point of view.

Anita Ziemer

Anita Ziemer is Executive Director of Slade Group and a Director of The Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas. In a career spanning roles working in government, not-for-profit, public company and the SME sector, Anita has a broad view of the landscape of Australians at work. She was Chairman of Melbourne Girls Grammar School, a Director of Kidspot through to its sale to News Ltd, and founding director of nexthire. She has B.Applied Science and an Adv Dip Screenwriting. She was Associate Producer of Summer Coda a 2010 Australian Indie feature film.

Anita has a major interest in serving the community and has held the following pro bono positions:

  • Melbourne Girls Grammar, School Council (Chairman 2011) 2009-2015
  • Melbourne Grammar School, Council’s Marketing Sub-Committee 2005-2009
  • Member, St Paul’s Restoration and Renewal Appeal 2003-2004
  • Board Member, Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia 2002-2010
  • Co-education Chair, YPO/WPO 1994, 2001-2002
  • Council Member, Christ Church Grammar School 1995-2002
Anita Ziemer
Executive Director
Slade Group
Level 10, 333 Collins Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: +61 3 9235 5100

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