to wonder if women

(105 Posts)
Coldlightofday Tue 28-Jan-14 19:56:06

will ever, ever be truly equal.

Because sometimes if seems as though we still live in a patriarchal society, that the glass ceiling is still there in the workplace and that some men (and indeed some women) are guilty of the most outrageous attitudes towards women, work, parenthood.

It makes me sad and angry in equal measure.

Coldlightofday Thu 30-Jan-14 20:32:34

I don't even want to be revered.

I just want to not be fighting a boys club

<sulky>

Poopoopeedooo Wed 29-Jan-14 22:00:32

I was supposed to highlight that, wasn´t I?
That would be DuckworthLewis to whom Iwas attempting to refer!

Poopoopeedooo Wed 29-Jan-14 21:58:07

Just catching up on the thread since last night....Interesting point made by Duckworth 2 pages back ... Sorry- I´m skipping past all the very interesting stuff re workplace inequality here!
She was saying that in a world where actually producing children is probably causing more problems than it solves, our unique reproductive role is therefore not an asset and we are thus not revered for our role as mothers.
I shall go and ponder that some more.
As you were

NearTheWindmill Wed 29-Jan-14 20:52:23

Traininthedistance I agree with you about the generational thing the first time round but for the second career I applied to an ad in the local paper and at 43 went back to the bottom, part-time, for about £8k per annum, and for a second time I just got my head down and got on with the job and kept saying "I'd like to do that please" and eventually through dint of hard work they listened and let me apply for promotion and funded my professional quals (which I was allowed on by the local college as an exception without a degree after an interview and test). So whilst I agree in the first instance I don't in the second and things were much tougher when I went back. I will never earn what I earned in the 80's and 90's again, but it's still double average and it's local and it suits and it really isn't rocket science or very hard.

If an old so and so like me can do it, I don't see why lots of other women can't but having said that a lot of my contemporaries at the time (playground) said I was nuts and what I was doing was beneath them, etc.

I really do think that the nub of the matter is that I was well educated if not well qualified and I think the fact that qualifications have replaced "education" is very sad indeed and I don't understand why the UK, society, politicians, etc., haven't caught onto it. I think the worm is turning and vive la revolution is all I can say.

Coldlightofday Wed 29-Jan-14 20:50:17

There are some really thoughtful and thought provoking posts here.

There are, without doubt, some practical changes that would make the playing field more level - more flexibility etc

I think the bit I struggle with most, though, is the idea that women can be seen as second class citizens, as less valuable, as inferior by virtue of their gender.

I can't even put forward any coherent arguments. The more I reflect on it, the more cross I become. It's way wider than the workplace too, I think.

Iwannalaylikethisforever Wed 29-Jan-14 18:28:06

I think it's important to point out that there are plenty of women who are happy to take a career break to have children, and plenty of mothers who are happy to work reduced hours, compromising on salary and status within the workplace for what is a rite of passage as a woman. Not all, but some feel a burning desire, if not a craving, to experience motherhood, some of these posts make it sound like a burden. However until men evolve with a womb and give birth this will not change. Mothers are damned if they do and damn if they don't, leaving a newborn to return to work can find themselves being asked why have a baby at all? You don't see it from 8am until 6pm. Equally staying at home to raise a child is also being critiqued even by government.

ikeaismylocal Wed 29-Jan-14 18:26:56

The taxation is actually the same in Sweden as it would be in the UK for us (we are an average income family) Sweden is simalar to Norway in that we get parental leave, state funded daycare and state funded before/after school care. Tax is higher for the highest earners in Sweden, but for an average family tax is simalar between the UK and Sweden, outgoings are much less in Sweden as daycare is very very cheap as is housing.

Backonthefence Wed 29-Jan-14 17:58:36

They do have some of the highest individual tax rates in the world to help fund their policies. I am not so sure this would be popular in the UK however.

We're not doing badly in Scandinavia, and surely we can't be more than 10 years or so of coming into line with them?

cheminotte Wed 29-Jan-14 17:15:29

Morebeta - Norway for example has long maternity leave that can be shared, guaranteed childcare provision from age 1 and after school and holiday care all very cheaply and the board quota. I read an article recently saying as a small country they just cannot afford to have half the population not working.

YABU, we will. Times are changing. Growing trend in hands-on fathering helps.

MoreBeta Wed 29-Jan-14 16:29:01

'..._e_quality for women.'

MoreBeta Wed 29-Jan-14 16:28:15

Dahlen - in effect what I think you are proposing is some sort of Scandinavian model where society decides that childcare is important and that subsidies paid by other peoples taxes (I suppose they may well benefit later or have benefitted before) subsidises something that society agrees is a good thing.

I don't know Scandinavian childcare and schooling and equal opportunity policy and parental leave policy too well but I believe they are better than ours at achieving more quality for women.

Interesting point that Scandinavia was generally historically until fairly recently a hunter gatherer economy whereas we in the UK fundamentally adopted the man out in the fields (i.e at work) and woman at home structure of a typical agrarian economy.

This is very deep rooted as I said. Society accepts it as 'normal'.

Dahlen Wed 29-Jan-14 16:19:27

ikea - I agree. I'd also hazard a guess that the rates of relationship breakdown would decrease.

MoreBeta - I don't know. I don't think wage rates would collapse that dramatically since not everyone would choose to to work full time or at all, and it hasn't led to wage rate collapses in countries where childcare is massively state subsidised. The UK isn't "other countries" of course, and I suppose the truth of the matter is that no really knows how it would play out, despite some very well educated guesses. At the moment it would seem that no politicians even want to investigate it, as you've pointed out.

If I was given to pessimism I'd feel thoroughly depressed about it all as once you start looking at things in real depth you are forced to consider UK macroeconomics. You realise that housing costs and the general cost of living have a direct relationship with the ability to get women into work. And that's where most people switch off I think.

MoreBeta Wed 29-Jan-14 16:09:06

Dahlen - wage rates would collapse to minimum wage in the middle and bottom end of the scale if they did that. More workers, lower pay. More benefits and in work tax credits. Not sure it would be a net benefit on tax take.

Not sure Govt want deflation in wages either. In fact the Govt wants more inflation as does the Bank of England to help pay off all the debt.

Nope society, employers and Govt like it all just the way it is and all political parties agree. They do nothing about this issue of inequality and never will. They passed equality laws and never properly implemented. Big business lobby groups see to that. Its an unholy alliance of interests.

ikeaismylocal Wed 29-Jan-14 16:06:45

I think that the situation with csa would be solved if fathers were more bonded to their children. If fathers had months being the sole carer for the child, if the father took days off work to look after ill children, if fathers were told they were important and they were vital in the first few days of a child's life, that they should stay with the mum and baby and have almost constant skin to skin contact with the baby rather than going home and going out to the pub with their mates, if the fathers were as likely to pick the children up from school I don't think that if the relationship between mother and father broke down the father would think oh fuck it, i don't need/want to support my children either practically, emotionally of finacially because surely someone bonded to a child would want what was best for that child and would walk to the ends of the earth to see their child as often as possible. It makes me deeply sad to think that many british fathers (mine being one of them!) don't even want 50/50 rights.

If fathers were involved both whilst a relationship was intact and if a relationship broke down mothers would be just as reliable as fathers, mothers would be more employable, men and women would take the same amount of time off work both when the child was a baby and when the child was ill, therefore womens wages would go up.

Dahlen Wed 29-Jan-14 15:57:51

As a single parent in full-time paid employment, I have thought long and hard about the issue of childcare. The more I think about it, the more I have decided that actually I don't want to work family friendly hours to make childcare easier to juggle, I want childcare to be more accessible, flexible and affordable to allow me to adapt to my work.

Obviously, that's my choice. Other parents may prefer to work different hours. It remains the case that some careers are not very compatible with being a parent (even if you're not primary carer the job will have a negative effect on your relationship with your child). That's a choice/sacrifice other parents can make. But I think many parents would like to work the same hours as childless colleagues and would be prepared to do it if they could just find and afford childcare that facilitated that.

I really feel that childcare is one of the biggest issues facing this and subsequent governments. I'd really like to see a cross-party agenda dedicated to dealing with it.

For my mind, I think massive state subsidy for existing childcare and the state funding/support of private parent-based co-operatives (e.g. where you all agree to do a day each per week or fortnight) could be a step forward. While that would cost vast sums of money to implement, I have read various reports that suggest the tax raised from the greater number of women in work would quickly mean this was self-funding.

Drquin Wed 29-Jan-14 15:41:47

morebeta I agree flexibility is at the root of (some of) the equality issues. But, equally, flexibility has to work both ways, or it's just not flexible.

Many employers are flexible - I know mine is, but that's primarily because it's suits our business to be so. We are a multinational, supporting local 24/7 operations, so there's scope for a lot of the support work (I'm excluding explicit shifts here) at odd hours, half days here and there - it doesn't need to be within 9-5 Uk-time Monday-Friday. So requests for flexibility working arrangements (permanent, and ad-hoc) are in the main granted, and genuinely workable.
We accommodate flexible working requests from our shift workers - varying combinations of no late finishes / no early starts / no Tuesdays / no weekends / reduced hours. Admittedly we've refused some too - but because they didn't work for the business.

And i think that's where flexibility has it's limits - if you work in a shop, as a retail assistant, shop open 9-5, there's going to be a limit to the flexibility options. Part time probably will be an option - but not so much an 8-4 or 10-6 flexi-hours pattern.

So I think employers (or some, at least) do care .... But to a point, because it's a relationship ultimately and it's got to work for everyone.

In an ideal world, it'd be fairer for everyone and every circumstances, not just women and / or (working) parents. By that I mean, people with caring responsibilities beyond young children. That no-one would be discriminated against, for any reason. That concepts such as "sexual harassment" wouldn't even exist because we'd all know what was acceptable behaviour and what wasn't.

MoreBeta Wed 29-Jan-14 15:25:02

tarinin - its globalisation that did it.

There is always someone poorer and more desperate for work somewhere in the world (and often they are children) who can be packed into an even more dangerous and exhausting workplace than we allow in this country.

The simple fact is that for most people working today it is a simple choice of doing as you are told or the job goes to India, China, Brazil, etc etc, etc.

Globalisation didn't actually benefit anyone but the very top end of global society. Hence 85 people now own/control half the world's wealth as DoJo pointed out up thread.

Dahlen Wed 29-Jan-14 15:21:43

I don't necessarily see that choosing to stay at home for longer with a child is a bad choice (for many it is a positive one that suits them and fits their natural instincts); it is just not compatible with equality in the work place.

I agree. smile

However, I think because both parents benefit from having a parent SAH with a child, more should be done to protect the economic interests of the parent choosing to SAH. Having an interest in the income-earning parent's pension is a nod towards this, but it still has some way to go I think.

traininthedistance Wed 29-Jan-14 15:18:31

Morebeta a good argument for the regulation of businesses, and also probably for the renationalisation of the energy industries and utilities in particular. After all, we know that capitalism, given unfettered chances, will tend to reduce the value and power of labour to nothing if it can - to its own destruction if not prevented from it. We need children and meaningful lives and not to live like animals in the service only of profit - so we need to make sure we regulate those forces which would treat us like that.

Bohemond Wed 29-Jan-14 15:17:49

Dahlen I do agree that men must make equally bad choices. And I underline the point that all of us must make many good choices before we have full freedom to choose (as per Socks).

However, I don't necessarily see that choosing to stay at home for longer with a child is a bad choice (for many it is a positive one that suits them and fits their natural instincts); it is just not compatible with equality in the work place.

So if we are to gain equality (and I agree with your solution by the way) we must lose some of our ability to make that choice. And men gain it.

MoreBeta Wed 29-Jan-14 14:59:33

One of the problems in the modern world of work is that employers do not want employees to have any flexibility around working hours. They want total control of when and if you are at work.

Flexibility costs money, it means having spare capacity ready, it means more management time in juggling resources. Big business wants workers who turn up any time day or night waiting at the end of a phone but not getting paid until they literally are on the shop floor. As we all know, children do not work that way. They have t come first and they don't fit round the 24/7 economy. The are ill, they need to go to school and come home form school. If you are a worker with children and they are your responsibility then a company cannot demand you stay at work or arrive at short notice to meet peaks and troughs in demand.

I do some work in the electricity industry. Power station operational staff man (they usually are men) the power station 24/7 even if it is not generating. They have to because they might get a call to switch on to keep the grid from blacking out and that call is at most a few minutes away and often just a few milliseconds away. A lot of operations are like that now.

Having a worker who cannot be there on a guaranteed basis except for occasional illness is just not possible for most operations. They have to operate - regardless of childcare responsibilities. No operation can just have staff sat about to pick up the slack in case a Mum (or Dad) gets a call because little Johnny has been sick at school.

Mostly it is still women who take childcare responsibility and frankly most employers just don't want the risk and hassle. Add to that the plain old irrational woman hating sexists that exist in upper management and there you have the outcome we have.

Women who reach high office do so by effectively blanking their children and any childcare responsibilities out of their work life. My best piece of advice is never ever mention children at work or have any conversation for any reason or leave work early or not turn up for any reason to do with children. If you do you are branding yourself unreliable and you can forget a career right there and then.

Your employer does NOT care about you, your children or your family.

They should but they don't.

Dahlen Wed 29-Jan-14 14:57:52

I agree wobbly. I think that requires a major shift in social thinking.

If non-resident parents are chased for childcare costs incurred by the primary carer that would go a long way towards addressing that balance.

If more men chose to be primary carer within a relationship, that would also address the balance. The fact is that while one parent is at home either full time or part time with the DC while the other earns the main source of income, it is human nature to see the children as the SAHP's responsibility. When that parent then decides to return to paid work or increase their hours it is that persons's actions that are changing the status quo so the costs become associated with that person. It's not fair but it's how it goes. As it is mainly women who find themselves in this role because of our current parental leave set-up, we see this as a female problem. If more men were primary carers, that would change. But that requires legislation.

Beyond that, I'm not sure that getting more women to make the right choices about their lives would help much (other than in the obvious caveat that life will probably be much better for everyone who adopts this line of thinking). After all, unless we think men are better at making the right choices than women, surely the number of people making good/bad choices is about gender equal? Yet despite the the number of men making bad choices being comparable, it doesn't seem to be hurting their earning potential in quite the same way.

Bohemond Wed 29-Jan-14 14:39:09

Dahlen for PM

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