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March 12, 2020
My boys have two mums
By: Tracy Whybrow

As a working mother and a lesbian raising sons, Tracy tries not to let bias affect the way she lives and works. She admits, it’s not always easy.

Every time I meet someone new, I have to come out again. I decide whether to tell this person I’m different from what they’re expecting. For a while, my partner and I were the ‘only gays in the village’ – making our boys (now 9 and 11) the first kids at school to have gay parents. I’m sure there were lots of whispers behind the scenes but, so far, we’ve never been treated differently – and neither have the boys.

Some of the kids think it’s cool they’ve got two mums. We’re grateful it’s been relatively smooth sailing so far. But we don’t take it for granted. It may change. We or the boys might run into that old-fashioned prejudice. You never know when it’s going to come up.

A recent family outing at the zoo

A recent family outing at the zoo

Kids are bullied about all sorts of things, but you don’t want to be the reason your child has a target on their back. It’s such an easy wind up: “Your mum’s a lesbo.” It will always be a worry.

I’ve been asked how I’ll feel if my sons are gay. Honestly, I’d prefer that they aren’t. Because, even in this day and age, being queer can be tough.

On women raising sons…

I’d always thought John Gray’s book, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, was so clichéd. Then we had the boys and I thought: blimey – it’s all true! Boys really can only do one thing at a time. We are raising two very different beings in our household!

For a while we thought the boys weren’t listening to us. Then, at a talk by a child psychologist, my partner discovered some boys struggle to comprehend the female voice – it’s too high pitched. We’ve learnt to touch them, look them in the eye and ask: “Are you listening?” If I want to use my voice to get their attention, I deliberately pitch it at a lower register. It cracks our friends up.

Our sons enjoying a day at the pool

Our sons enjoying a day at the pool

We’ve always been aware of not having a male role model in the house. We try not to let stereotypes affect our thinking. We have a lot of male friends, so the boys do have male role models around. I think it’s good for kids to see that families come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

On being a working parent…

I’m very lucky because I have a partner who picks up the bulk of the childcare. We made the decision to structure our lives this way based on our skill sets. I’m rubbish at being with the kids full time. I’m just not as strong a nurturer as my partner.

I look at some of the women in our organisation who do what I do and also take the brunt of the childcare. It’s very challenging. I don’t know how you get the balance right.

With my partner, Derrin

With my partner, Derrin

I work really hard to create boundaries at work, but because we’re a global company, I do lots of travel and that can’t be avoided. I make sure I’m not travelling around birthdays and award ceremonies. Even then, it’s not perfect. My diary gets filled up weeks in advance, but school things come up at the last minute. Mostly, the boys accept it, they’re not thrilled, but they understand.

It used to be that I’d get home and have my phone in my hand the whole time. The boys would call me out: “Are you doing your work again?” I’ve stopped doing that now. I don’t even look at my phone before I go to bed. You have to focus on the here and now – no matter how tempting it is to keep working.

I do feel lucky to be living in this day and age, and working for a company like Accenture, just one of many putting inclusion and diversity at the forefront. Alongside my co-sponsor Brendan Connolly, I’ve been charged with leading the ‘gender’ pillar of our inclusion and diversity strategy. It’s not a responsibility that we take lightly.

With my team in the Sydney office

With my team in the Sydney office

I’m also heavily involved in the pride network (#PrideAtAccenture) which I love. 800+ people across our business are now wearing rainbow lanyards. Making support for LGBTI identifying people so visible is fantastic. It gives everyone permission to be themselves. It says “We hired you because you’re brilliant. We don’t care about your sexual orientation.”

Why are we talking about stereotypes?

We’re making good progress in promoting inclusion and diversity, but our ingrained beliefs can still heavily influence our actions. Are you subconsciously acting in a certain way because of your preconceived notions. Find out by reading and talking about our ‘stereotypes debunked’ stories.

Want to learn more about tacking unconscious bias? Read how we’re creating more inclusive communities using emerging tech.

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