A new study has found that childless women are less sympathetic than men to a female colleague trying to juggle work and home commitments.
A survey of 1,500 working mothers found that with maternity leave lasting up to 12 months and the right to ask for flexible working hours, women without children perceived working mothers as enemies to be left behind on the corporate ladder.
The study, by the Family Care Company, a family advice firm, found that most mothers blamed a faulty alarm clock or heavy traffic if they were late for work rather than admit to childcare problems.
The vast majority, 94 per cent, said juggling home and office life had a damaging, harmful to body and mind, effect on their career. However, only 31 per cent said the dual demands of work and family had an impact on a father's career.
Two thirds were reluctant to take up their right to ask for flexible working arrangements because they feared it would hit their chances of promotion.
Ben Black, founder of the Family Care Company, said the research found it was not only employers but also colleagues who failed to understand the pressures of juggling home and family life.
"Many of the women that mothers work alongside will go on to have children and you would have expected them to be more understanding," the Telegraph quoted Black, as saying.
"However, there can be a lot of competition and jealousy in the workplace, and some women might see it as an advantage in their career that they do not have children and a demanding home life," he added.
One mother, who declined to be named, said it was not only childless women who could be insensitive to working mothers.
"Women can be very hard on other women. The experience of motherhood can be very different depending on the individual. I have a child who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and has been suspended from school three times," she said.
"My boss is the smug mother of two children who are perfectly fit and healthy. She is completely unsympathetic. There is a complete lack of empathy," she added.