I suppose this proves that women just can't stand the heat.........

(243 Posts)
seeker Sun 24-Feb-13 10:23:45
blueshoes Sun 24-Feb-13 10:52:02

Part of the reason is the crippling cost of childcare and the fixation on parents (particularly mothers) being at home during the early years of a child's life.

JoinLogin Sun 24-Feb-13 10:54:02

If women can't afford to have a child then why do they still choose to have one?

Having children is a choice remember.

blueshoes Sun 24-Feb-13 11:02:50

Join, you are totally missing the point.

Women can afford to have children. Just not cover the cost of childcare to be able to afford to work during their early years.

JoinLogin Sun 24-Feb-13 11:05:43

There was a newspaper article a week or 2 ago about an unemployed mother with 11 children who was racking in all sorts of benefits including child support. She had so much she was able to buy and keep a horse.

Don't you think this is taking the p*ss?

MerryCouthyMows Sun 24-Feb-13 11:09:02

Is that you, GabbyLogon?!

targaryen24 Sun 24-Feb-13 11:09:21

It proves that things are still pretty stagnant when it comes to childcare. Plenty of women WANT to go back to work but earn so little that it seems stupid.

And join - articles like that do NOT represent a whole section of society. And yes, it is taking the piss.

Schooldidi Sun 24-Feb-13 11:10:07

join shouldn't your post say 'if a couple can't afford to have a child why do they still choose to have one'?

The cost of childcare should be weighed against both salaries but all too often it's only weighed against the woman's. Why is that? Because women are frequently the lower earners in the couple. Society still expects a woman to want to stay at home while the children are little whereas a man who wants to stay at home is seen as a bit odd. Childcare is still seen as the woman's problem with a lot of companies being happy to offer flexible working for mothers but not for fathers, which seems like it's woman friendly but it's placing more pressure on the women to be more responsible for the children than her partner.

Well that's some spectacular derailing.

JoinLogin Sun 24-Feb-13 11:10:36


Here you go. Child benefit can't be that low if claimants can buy a horse and flying lessons.

JoinLogin Sun 24-Feb-13 11:11:12

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

Schooldidi Sun 24-Feb-13 11:12:58

Join this thread wasn't supposed to be about benefits was it? I'm sure it was about women being pushed out of jobs with power, or was I dreaming that?

"Childcare is still seen as the woman's problem with a lot of companies being happy to offer flexible working for mothers but not for fathers, which seems like it's woman friendly but it's placing more pressure on the women to be more responsible for the children than her partner."

This absolutely!

EstherRancid Sun 24-Feb-13 11:16:44
AnyFucker Sun 24-Feb-13 11:16:56

Ignore the ignorant derailer

EduCated Sun 24-Feb-13 11:18:04

Back to the original point of the thread, it's sad to see were steadily slipping backwards instead of progressing in many ways sad

blueshoes Sun 24-Feb-13 11:18:52

I sometimes wonder whether flexible working (which has become the norm in terms of the platter of HR benefits offered to professional women) has resulted in more women being sidelined that if there was not that option.

If it has the result of keeping women in work who would otherwise completely dropped out, it is good thing. But if it has the result of encouraging women to go pt who would otherwise have continued ft, then there's your answer. It also skews employers' attitudes towards women if so many of them request flexi working after children.

targaryen24 Sun 24-Feb-13 11:19:16

YOU GET £20 A WEEK! hmm
Hardly rolling in it. That the equivalent to one weeks worth of nappies & wipes for me. If you're going to insult a large chunk of society it wouldn't hurt to do some research first...and maybe give up the Daily Mail for lent grin

P.S benefits are calculated to allow enough money to get by
not swan about. However that family managed it, most don't & it is not a glamorous alternative to being employed. So get off your high, poorly informed horse. Cheers

MrsLyman Sun 24-Feb-13 11:20:43

What schooldi said.

I find it very depressing both from reading these boards and from listening to friends in real life how few people think that the cost of childcare has anything to do with the man in the relationships salary, or how few think that a man's career should progress at anything other than full steam ahead during the early years of their children's lives.

hwjm1945 Sun 24-Feb-13 11:24:08

I think it should be easier to step on and off career ladder.Sabbatical s etc so can pick up career etc at later stage.

blueshoes Sun 24-Feb-13 11:25:59

The stereotype, which I see played out at my workplace (City firm), is:

- Men work harder once they have children, because children are a costly business.
- Women work less or flexibly and become rather less contactable once they have children.

It is hardly surprising the men get promoted ahead of and in larger numbers than women, even though women are equal to or outnumber men at the entry level. However, there are also prejudices and soft barriers that stand in women's way that make the bar higher for them anyway. I am not discounting that.

blueshoes Sun 24-Feb-13 11:27:36

UK has one of the longest working hours in Europe. That makes UK more family unfriendly than other European countries. Another potential factor why women find it harder than their counterparts in Europe to get ahead at work, when you have all these men putting in the face time.

Schooldidi Sun 24-Feb-13 11:29:30

At my school there approx half of the female teachers with children have gone pt, there is one male teacher with children who is pt. He is thought of as a massive oddity, most other men don't even break stride when their partner has a baby. I am one of the ft female teachers with children and I am considered a bit of an oddity for not even requesting to go pt after ML. I don't even have huge plans for promotion but just love my job most of the time.

I do know a few couples where the woman is ft working and the man is a SAHD. It is seen as VERY unusual, whereas man working ft and woman SAHM is seen as the norm in the early years.

Popcornia Sun 24-Feb-13 11:29:43

The cost of childcare really is horrendous. I have friends in North London who are looking at paying £90/day for care of a 6-month old baby from a childminder, which will pretty much wipe out the man's income (in their case, the woman is the higher earner). And that's for ONE child, born to well educated and successful parents. They are already talking about whether it's worth him working at all.

One the larger scale, the wage gap between men and women plus the costs of childcare means that that same discussion, only on more traditional gendered lines, is happening in households across the country.

I am not the slightest bit surprised that the government response was to propose worsening childcare quality. They knew that parents would hate the idea so much they could just shrug and say that "mothers" didn't take the proffered solution. Then they can get back to doing nothing.

MrsWolowitzerables Sun 24-Feb-13 11:34:02

The cost of child are is absurd.

I have three DC (including twins) so I literally cannot afford to work more than 20 hours a week. Women have it so much harder to make progress in their careers than men if couples choose to have babies.

seeker Sun 24-Feb-13 11:35:55

[shocked] but not surprised that this has become about childcare.

blueshoes Sun 24-Feb-13 11:37:37

If allowing childcare providers to increase the ratio of children results in lower childcare costs, then at least for some parents it would make childcare affordable whereas they would not otherwise have the choice to work. Right now, childminders are still quite expensive even though they are the cheapest form of childcare for babies.

Those who can afford nannies won't be affected by higher ratios.

blueshoes Sun 24-Feb-13 11:38:23

Seekers perhaps you can offer some alternative views as to the reasons for this then?

HoleyGhost Sun 24-Feb-13 11:41:34

What blueshoes said.

It is a complex problem. Based on personal experiences, I wonder if the pressure to breastfeed exclusively for six months and continue beyond that us also a factor.

Alpha women I know tend to be determined to do the very best for their dc. Following breastfeeding guidance means long maternity leaves and limited scope to share the months of sleep deprivation. Even afterward, the mother has become the default primary caregiver.

JoinLogin Sun 24-Feb-13 11:44:59

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

targaryen24 Sun 24-Feb-13 11:48:55

Yes...the fact that most people want at least one child is definitely the problem. Has nothing to do with the extortionate amounts charged for even one child that would take a good chunk out of most people's monthly wage hmm

EduCated Sun 24-Feb-13 11:53:21

And wow betide you if you dare to conceive twins.

Schooldidi Sun 24-Feb-13 11:53:37

Seeker I can only comment on the way the women around me have had their careers affected and the reasons that are most obvious in their lives.

All of the women I have met at baby groups or through our children have pretty much all been professional women, doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, teachers, etc. They have all taken a full year of ML if finances allow, then the majority of them have chosen to return to work pt, some have chosen to stay at home until the youngest child starts school, relatively few have chosen to return to work ft. So having children has affected the woman's career in a way that the man in the relationship hasn't experienced.

I'm sure there are other factors at play, and I wouldn't lay the blame at the high cost of childcare in my social circle, it's more the expectation that the children are the responsibility of the woman, and that the woman's career will take a back seat in the early years of their children's lives. I don't claim to know enough about the other issues to be able to comment on them, I'd love to be educated about them though.

PoppadomPreach Sun 24-Feb-13 11:59:00

I think that a big part of the problem is that the workspace is run in a very macho way. There's still a lot of chest thumping and "my dicks bigger than your dick" kind of mentality in a lot of senior level meetings and it is deeply unpleasant to work in such a way - it certainly goes against my work ethic.

I also found that I had to shout louder and longer (metaphorically) to be heard and that when a female adopts a confrontational attitude (e.g. As a nonexec director, when i confronted a non performing management team and tried to call them on it) there is a lot of eye-rolling and a real unwillingness to take such points on board yet when a male non-exec in same position starts to back you up, all of a sudden management are listening.

I found that when I took a maternity leave, as well as deciding to stay at home for a bit because of the difficulty and expense of childcare, I also had no compulsion to make a hasty return to such an environment.

Another issue, I wonder, is the attitude of women in senior positions once they do break through that glass ceiling. Now my experience is only based on one female manager from hell, so statistically invalid. However she made it far more difficult for women to progress than men. I have heard of similar cases from other women who had female bosses so I do wonder that if these senior female managers, because they have had to be so aggressive in order to get to the top, then ironically make it more difficult for other women to do the same (please note I am not trying to say that all women are like this!!

Sorry, I've written a long and rambling response, but just wanted to relate some of my experience to explain why it might be more than childcare issues which are at the root of this phenomenon. I should also add that I have worked some fabulous people, male and female, so am not trying to make too much of a sweeping generalisation!

targaryen24 Sun 24-Feb-13 12:00:16

I do think the babies are women's work attitude hasn't been challenged as much as it needs to be yet. I am surprised by how many threads in the relationship area are about men who think that childcare is not an equal thing.

The crazy prices, social pressure, pressure to exclusively bf etc. all combine to make an ambush on some women's careers once they have children.

HoleyGhost Sun 24-Feb-13 12:00:50

Cost of childcare is not really a factor for women in positions of power.

It is a major expense, but generally managable for high earners. Social pressure to do the 'best' for dc is a bigger problem Especially when that best is based on the notions of gurus like Oliver James.

targaryen24 Sun 24-Feb-13 12:04:32

Also, after having my DC I felt that it was seen as more acceptable for a man to express a disliking for being a parent 24/7 but women are supposed to just love being a mum all the time & feel fulfilled with that for a while. Might just be me but I know from talking at baby groups, on here etc that I'm not the only one who wanted to keep other areas of my life (such as my career) going... hmm

HoleyGhost Sun 24-Feb-13 12:07:42

Yes, on every business trip I had remarks along the lines of

'it must be very hard'
'don't you miss her?'

I got the latter again fairly recently. My dd is a preschooler. A man would never be asked that. Especially not in a meeting.

targaryen24 Sun 24-Feb-13 12:10:38

I know...

My DC's now 2 and obviously I love him to bits but when I have a (very rare) night off I can safely say I don't sit at home chewing my fingernails & feeling bad. But sometimes I still feel like I should & get asked if I miss him etc.

Mother's are only human too y'know grin

MrsLyman Sun 24-Feb-13 12:10:59

It's not just the cost of childcare at all, the workplace and society's attitudes towards it is inherently misogynistic. I have friends in a couple that do exactly the same job, it is one that has long hours and is notoriously inflexible. Very few people (except me because I'm a bit arsey like this) even question why this job is still perfectly suitable for him whilst now impossible for her.

Don't even get me started on the bullshit that is the line 'staying at home with your children is the most important job you can do' that gets trotted out on here in regards to SAHMs. It's not the 1950s and there are plenty of important things women can do other than housework and childcare.

targaryen24 Sun 24-Feb-13 12:12:29

But yes, it is a very real pressure that comes from many different sources.

Articles about the effects of all types of stuff mum's do on their kids. (ie working, not working, bfeeding, not bfeeding), pressure from childcare books etc, other mum's. It's all a bit strange considering it's 2013 and not like that for the Dad's really.

HotheadPaisan Sun 24-Feb-13 12:19:21

Flexible working would help with all this. Everyone could be more productive and perform both roles more easily, and both are needed and men and women can and should be doing both. All parents and carers would benefit, as would anyone else with responsibilities outside of work. We have the technology, it just needs the will.

HoleyGhost Sun 24-Feb-13 12:20:00

I think that a lot of pressure comes via social media. Forums like this one, facebook etc.

People can't see the utterly exhausted women in their audience when they insist that following hcps' advice on sleep training etc is something they'd never do.

HoleyGhost Sun 24-Feb-13 12:23:09

My work is very flexible. The trouble is that dc are not flexible. They need a lot of attention and get sick at inconvenient times.

The work still has to be done and slogging away in the evenings and weekends is not healthy.

targaryen24 Sun 24-Feb-13 12:28:43

Agree wholeheartedly holey
I think that's why I tell any new mum/mum to be that asks for advice how it really is as nicely as I can. I worry I'll be like one of the ones who totally sugarcoated it when I asked...and I really wish they hadn't!

I know one woman who's a total mother earth type, loves it, bfed her Dc til he was 2, stayed home and was happy to never go out...and good for her. She was happy. But it's not one size fits all & it's hard to fight that when you're a knackered new parent at first, alongside all the workplace issues, money issues etc.

Rosyisgonnabeamummy Sun 24-Feb-13 12:29:50

Popadom - I work in a mainly female environment even up to board level. I have to say rather than how big is your cock its more back stabbing and I can't believe she did that! And for that reason I don't want to go back after ml. However we don't have a choice, fortunately we have free child care in the form of mil, but even then I have had all the ambition bitched out of me and I will be going back part time, with no enthusiasm other than finding an exit strategy

As for the lady with 11 children and a horse. I should imagine she has more benefits other than child benefit. She prob gets housing allowance, payment from the father if she is single, heating allowance, employment benefit. Etc. and just cause she has a horse doesn't mean she is spending loads of money - I should think the horse isn't shod, has 2nd hand rugs, and lives out - therefore a much reduced amount to full livery at a prestigious yard. I'm not sure what my point is. Something to do with the underlying complex circumstances to each case - 11 children and a horse living on child benefit, bit more to it than that. And, actually, assuming she has no debt, she handles her finances better than most.

Schooldidi Sun 24-Feb-13 12:39:16

I agree that pressure to do the 'best' for your dcs comes from everywhere, and social media plays quite a big part of that. I personally managed to do everything I consider to be the 'best' for my dcs, including working ft from when they were small (dd1 was 13 months when I started ft uni, dd2 was 6 months when I went back to work ft).

BOTH parents need to be able to work flexibly, as flexible working for just one means that person is the one who is expected to drop everything when something crops up like dcs being ill.

AmandaPayne Sun 24-Feb-13 12:39:31

The problem in my area (legal) was certainly that the whole system was set up to eat as much of your life as possible. Your salary is a fixed cost and you are judged by how many hours you record in a year. The chats you might have with senior partners take place when you bump into them at 7/8/9 pm, as earlier in the day they are rushing to meetings or on conference calls.

Pre-children, most men and women accepted this. I worked crazy hours. And in many ways they got crazier post-Blackberry. I once had a colleague get cross because I hadn't joined a conference call he had organised on a deal on a Sunday. A conference call he had simply notified people of by email a couple of hours earlier.

Post children, I had to carve some time back, or I would never have seen them. But even though I was earning less and working almost as much, the perception was that I wasn't on track any more. And I didn't have those key networking conversations and trips to the pub.

And if you are the boss of a firm like that, I get why you want the father who will work all hours with no boundaries and not me. So I think that the changes need not to be focused on women with children. It needs to be about people generally carving more life for themselves. Because that's the only way large numbers of women will want to play the game. (Although why mothers feel pulled towards work/life balance and men don't is a whole other post).

Interestingly, I have had two conversations with partners at law firms recently about how they have issues finding people (not women, anyone) who wants to make partnership. The rewards aren't seen as there and the path to get there is seen as too long and too unpredictable. If this genuinely becomes a succession planning issue, law firms may have to change their ways.

hwjm1945 Sun 24-Feb-13 13:37:25

Agree,if you are not available at all times seen as less committed

AmandaPayne Sun 24-Feb-13 14:05:43

Thinking about politics in particular, I think it poses particular challenges for women with children.

Most of those women will have a working partner rather than a traditional stay at home supporter. Statistically, highly educated, ambitious women tend to marry similar men and are far less likely to have a pure 'helpmeet' partner. Politics involves long hours, significant time away from home (unless you have a London constituency) so unless you have a partner whose work is very flexible, that needs cast iron childcare. Although MPs have a decent salary, they don't have the type of high earner salary necessary to maintain the 'two nanny' set up that many, for example, banking females would be able to utilise. I'd be interesting to hear what the expectations for hours and locations are for MPs in other countries.

Also, I think that the unpredictability of politics is probably a greater disincentive to women than men (again, I'm going to leave for the time being the issue of why women are more likely to feel the pull of time at home and the guilt if they don't see their children for the whole working week). It's hard to invest all that effort and time away when it could all go by the way every four years. it's not like if you leave a law firm and could get another job at another firm. There is nowhere else to be an MP. Again, I'm not sure how this compares to other countries.

Will keep pondering...

Matsikula Sun 24-Feb-13 14:21:25

AmandaPayne, I think law firms may well have to change their ways, not least because more than half (and rising) of the qualified graduates are women. But I have always thought that the magic circle model is designed by a select few lunatics. I accept that in a few departments like M&A it is hard to avoid burning the midnight oil, but otherwise surely the quality of (and also value for money) work suffers when it is being done by exhausted associates?

AmandaPayne Sun 24-Feb-13 14:44:50

I wasn't magic circle, but I was City.

There have been a lot of female law graduates for a long time now. When I was training <ahem> in excess of ten years ago, there were more women than men. We all thought that things would change. That all we needed was numbers. Nope. Law firms rely on a massive pyramid. They need lots of people at the bottom to do all the volume work and a few at the top. So it doesn't matter if they lose lots of talent. In fact, the business model requires it. And the ways they measure attainment mean that they don't see the fact that often those they lose might be some of the best. So although they hand wring about female attrition levels, they have no real incentive for change.

AmandaPayne Sun 24-Feb-13 14:46:45

Sorry, missed a bit.

I wasn't a 'work all night' department. They can work you pretty damn hard before quality drops! What is frustrating is that there is little reward for efficiency. Whether the client is being billed on a time or a fixed fee, your annual targets are still mostly about hours recorded. The person who stays half the night looks like the model employee on paper.

MrsShortfuse Sun 24-Feb-13 15:21:21

I think a more prosaic explanation is that once you have children, you gain a different sense of perspective about life, and you look at all the b*llcks, office politics, absurd expectations, unreachable targets and general sh*te blah blah blah that goes on in workplaces especially highflying environments, and think, 'no thanks!' and you settle for less. I think women are more likely to feel like this than men - or maybe it's more acceptable for women to downshift - and it becomes a vicious circle, I dunno!

blueshoes Sun 24-Feb-13 15:53:21

I agree with Amanda about the magic circle/City pyramid model. The real rewards go to a very lucky (usually male) few. The rest move into less demanding and lower paying jobs and the City law firms don't particularly care and might even encourage it, particularly if these people move to work for a client. But the power (international deals, silly money) go to the few who do make it.

There is no shortage of fresh blood wanting to fill partner boots. There isn't a dearth of ambitious young (often male) people who want to shoot for the moon. The rewards are there.

Why don't more women go for gold?

I work for a global US-based law firm. Funnily enough, they have a ratio of 30% female partners compared to around the woeful 13% for UK magic circle law firms. I was quite surprised to see this. From this small sample, the UK is apparently trailing behind on promoting women. The US has one of the worst benefit packages for maternity leave (my colleague returned after 3 months and that is not unusual) and flexible working. But they promote women more!

AmandaPayne Sun 24-Feb-13 16:31:34

I think the thing with the US is you are either in or you are out. You can't go part time - pretty much unheard of, no right to ask, you'd probably lose your health insurance and your paid vacation. You take maternity leave for a very short period (and as an interesting aside, maybe this contributes to more people returning, because you don't change pace and your whole leave is spent planning your return).

What I think that means is that those who stick it out compete on a far more equal playing field (though I am under no illusions who bears the burden of nursery pick up time).

But, and it's a big but, I'd be interested to know what their attrition levels are overall - do more women leave the work force with no compromise option.

And another big but, I'm not sure I'd want to live in a society that treated people that way. I think that, long term, the solution is moving to better work life balance, not forcing everyone to hand over every waking hour and their soul to make it.

FloraFox Sun 24-Feb-13 16:37:16

Another legal bod here. When I started the commonly espoused view was that women would succeed in greater numbers as the firms would need to compete for the best talent. Fast forward a goodly number of years and it hasn't happened. Firms don't need to promote the best. They only need a small number of good-enoughs who will put the work in. I agree there are now some issues with fewer people being willing to put themselves in for partnership but I don't see that leading to more women being partners. Firms won't change the long hours culture willingly and generally refuse to acknowledge out loud that this together with child care is a huge part of the problem. I worked with a company in Sweden a while back and it was amazing how openly women and men talked about their child care - usually about whose turn it was to collect the children. It was a small sample I saw but very interesting.

blueshoes Sun 24-Feb-13 16:40:21

But you cannot force everyone to want a better worklife balance.

So long as there are the minority few who are prepared to sacrifice all to reach for the stars, it is hard to justify promoting those who want to adopt a saner model or who take time out during their career, ahead of the hungry ones.

It is in the AngloSaxon countries (UK, US) that people at the top of business have rockstar remuneration. In the US, you might have more female representation at the top because there is less of the flexi time/mummy track dichotomy. In other European countries, you might have more female representation at the top because there is less of a differential between the salaries at the top and bottom of the scales and therefore fewer people (typically male) having an incentive to shoot for the moon leaving others in their wake.

AmandaPayne Sun 24-Feb-13 16:47:31

What I think will be interesting is whether there are still enough of the 'sacrifice all' types in the next couple of generations. Certainly those coming of age in this economic climate seem rather more cynical about giving that much to a firm (rather than your own business) . If it reaches a tipping g point, those people won't be numerous enough to sustain that model without at least some tweaks. I also hope that the client drive to fixed fee etc might help.

FloraFox Sun 24-Feb-13 16:50:04

I used to be very against quotas thinking that it should always be the best person hired for a job. Now I have a different view. Those who are promoted to senior jobs are not necessarily the best but they are willing to sacrifice their family lives to succeed. I think there is a legitimate societal interest in saying that women should be promoted and quotas would help. Income at the highest level would probably come down but at the moment incomes are historically high. Plateau partners were not making £1m+ a year until 10 years or so ago. They're maintaining it now largely by squeezing the pyramid.

FloraFox Sun 24-Feb-13 16:54:10

AP sadly I think boys' independent schools are still pumping out sufficient numbers who will take up the roles. The number of state educated partners is also lagging badly.

UptoapointLordCopper Sun 24-Feb-13 17:04:38

seeker Re: your earlier comment about this turning into a thread about childcare. I find this happening often - any talk about equality eventually becomes a discussion on childcare. This has the effect of reaffirming the idea that childcare is the woman's responsibility. Isn't it interesting/depressing? In academia, I read that a study found that a single woman with no children still does not do as well on the career ladder than a married man with children. Childcare may be an issue, but it's not everything. There are more factors that we need to think about.

FloraFox Sun 24-Feb-13 17:10:25

I don't agree that our discussing the impact of child care "has the effect of reaffirming the idea that childcare is the woman's responsibility". What's the basis for saying this?

UptoapointLordCopper Sun 24-Feb-13 17:21:47

Men also have children. Why does that not affect their careers? Why is it that a woman without children still don't do as well as a man?

kim147 Sun 24-Feb-13 17:26:05

I've read somewhere that a married man is more likely to get promotion / a raise because "he has a family and so money is an issue" compared to say a single woman.

Would be interesting to compare single men and single women as they get older.

skaen Sun 24-Feb-13 17:26:14

I have just finished reading Shattered by Rebecca Asher which was very interesting on this and as a disclaimer - I'm another ex- City lawyer!

Having children is known to be a nightmare with childcare and juggling 2careers so a lot of very competent women are opting out before they are married and certainly before having children by choosing jobs or specialisms which are known to be comparatively family friendly rather than necessarily what they really want - e.g solicitor rather than barrister; teacher not academic etc.

Then maternity leave is so long abc the mother still has to take do much of it, that it becomes the easier default for her to continue doing most of the child stuff while the father works and gets to opt in on his terms. Even now it is transferable, take up of paternity leave is low and badly paid if that is also the main family income.

And then employers are suspicious of men asking for flexible working and it is definitely a 'less serious' marker. DH and I take it in turns to look after the children when they're ill. My work just accept it, his work grumble about how it should be my job. (DH and I do exactly the same job for different organisations).

I know what the answers should be, but they're not going to happen!

skaen Sun 24-Feb-13 17:28:42

Men with children look solid and reliable good citizens especially if they do a school pickup once a year or perhaps attend a play.

Women without children are waiting to get pregnant at the worst possible moment for a company and swan off on maternity leave leaving everyone in the lurch. Or they're unnatural ball breakers if they don't want marriage and/or kids.

AmandaPayne Sun 24-Feb-13 17:32:42

I think the childcare thing is difficult. Yes, the discussion should be about childcare impacting on the careers of both parents. And I do regularly correct women who, in RL, talk about childcare costs coming off their salary.

But the reality is that women opt out of employment, or are underemployed, because of family far more often than men. Improvements to childcare could make a change to women's prospects far more quickly than we are ever likely to get a societal change such that men take the hit from poor childcare options just as often as women.

Re the single women thing, there are obviously lots of other patriarchal issues in the workplace and we shouldn't forget them.

FloraFox Sun 24-Feb-13 17:33:25

Married men with children usually have wives who do most of the child care. That's not to say that child care is the only issue but most women I know with children who are capable of taking on a senior role find it to be the biggest issue. It is not the fact that we talk about it that makes it an issue or makes it worse. That's my point about your post Up

UptoapointLordCopper Sun 24-Feb-13 17:35:05

And I'm not disagreeing that childcare is a major issue. I'm saying that there is more to it than that. But in the equality initiatives I see at work the discussions almost always move to childcare. That also alienates colleagues without children. And equality is more than about childcare, even though that is a large part. And in my job/career, wanting to be with my children certainly affects many of my decisions, and I do not regret any choices I made. I am good at my job but have not had any "progression" since a long time ago. In some ways that is due to my own choices (regardless of childcare). But I am beginning to question what "progression" really means and whether you have to make the "right" choices and whether those "right choices" are biased in any way.

This is a bit vague. I don't have it all very clear in my head yet. But I bloody will have it clearer when I finish reading Delusions of Gender and Why so slow.

AmandaPayne Sun 24-Feb-13 17:36:50

Delusions didn't help me on this one LordCopper. I found 'Half a Wife' by Gaby Hinscliff quite interesting though. Not a scientific tome, obviously.

UptoapointLordCopper Sun 24-Feb-13 17:38:21

It is not the talking about childcare that makes it worse. It is the discussions being overwhelmingly about childcare that makes it look like it's the woman's problem, and I do see that in RL it often is the woman's problem. I don't have a solution. But I'd like to ask seeker what she(he?!) thinks about it and why she made her comment.

Schooldidi Sun 24-Feb-13 17:38:45

I don't know Upto. I don't know many women without children, and the ones I do know seem to be progressing through their careers just as well as men. Maybe I'm not moving in the right social circles to meet the powerful and successful people.

I'm a teacher and in our school (a large secondary) we have 3 deputy heads, 2 of them are women, the head is a man but the previous head was a woman, the majority of heads of departments in our school are female and half of the heads of years are female too. I genuinely don't see any lack of career progression for women where I work, unless they have children and put their career on the back burner while the children are young. So I can only comment on what I see and the expectation that women will stay at home or go pt while the children are young is the major obstacle I see.

What other factors do you think are at play? I have said before that I just don't know about them so please will you educate me?

UptoapointLordCopper Sun 24-Feb-13 17:40:47

Amanda - according to Delusions it seems that patriarchal issues affect women with children even more than women who don't have children.

Speaking of which best go and feed the children. hmm grin

AmandaPayne Sun 24-Feb-13 17:42:50

School - I think one of the interesting things about schools is that so many of the staff are female. As it is a traditionally 'female' profession (in recent history) there is more of a history of time out and getting back on track. My mother found it pretty easy over thirty years ago to take five years out and go back. I've known women recently do similar (though no idea if that is representative). In other professions, the lack of 'on ramps' is far more pronounced.

Without wanting to harp on about childcare again, not having to cover school holidays can, I think, be a massive help to women's career progression.

kim147 Sun 24-Feb-13 17:46:36

Children are ill, school starts at 9 and ends at 3.15. For at least 7 years, DCs need someone to take them to appointments and to look after them after school.

Whoever does that is a person who is not at work full time. And unfortunately part time workers are not as valued as full time.

Who ever takes that responsibility is going to have to sacrifice a full time career - unless it can be worked between both parents. Or with decent and affordable childcare.

Schooldidi Sun 24-Feb-13 17:46:41

That's what I was thinking, maybe schools are more equally balanced than other professions. I don't know because i haven't ever worked in any other profession.

UptoapointLordCopper Sun 24-Feb-13 17:46:48

On schools - but most headteachers are male. Delusions also said that people are uncomfortable with men in "feminine" roles and would roll out the red carpet and "progress" them as quickly as possible so that they are in their "proper" role as the people "in charge". hmm

But really must go and feed the children. Back later.

AmandaPayne Sun 24-Feb-13 17:50:39

Oh yes, I do remember that bit now Copper. I read it about 18 months ago.

Schooldidi Sun 24-Feb-13 17:50:54

Are most headteachers male? I haven't found that in my experiences, maybe it's a regional thing, or maybe I've just not had a typical experience with the schools I've dealt with. When I was at school I went to 3 schools, all the heads were women. Dd1 has been to 4 schools, she has had 3 female heads and 2 male ones. I've worked in 4 schools, 3 male heads, 2 female ones, but more women overall in the SMT.

AmandaPayne Sun 24-Feb-13 17:52:49

I think Copper's statistic is only applicable to secondary schools, if I recall correctly. Does that help at all?

kim147 Sun 24-Feb-13 17:57:32

I've worked in a number of primary schools and I'd say it's an even mixture of male and female heads. I've known some young male heads but no young female heads.

Being a head and being a parent to young children is a difficult balancing act and it's a job that means many sacrifices. Are men more prepared at a young age to make sacrifices on family life? Or are they more likely to apply and be promoted to headship?

UptoapointLordCopper Sun 24-Feb-13 18:05:50

2008 report: The NCSL's Women in Headship study found that 87% of primary school teachers are women but only 67% of heads are women and in secondary schools 57% of teachers are women, but only 36% of heads.


Not as much imbalance as in universities and politics, I guess?

Trytrytyagain Sun 24-Feb-13 18:06:16

Most Headteachers are female.

44% of secondary school are women.
70% of primary school are women.


Trytrytyagain Sun 24-Feb-13 18:07:18

Sorry crossed posts.

solveproblem Sun 24-Feb-13 18:17:05

Did any of you watch Borgen? A Danish series about a female struggling with a mother/woman in a demanding role.
If you haven't, please do!

blueshoes Sun 24-Feb-13 18:19:45

Teaching must be quite unique in that it is overwhelmingly female to get those numbers. However, I'll bet that the % of men in top posts probably comprise a larger percentage of the total number of men in the teaching profession compared with women.

At the end of 2010, the percentage of women on FTSE 100 boards stood at 12.5%. Women held 5.5% of executive directorships and 15.6% of non-executive directorships.

In magic circle law firms, the percentage of women partners is around 15%. The number of women in senior management posts probably even fewer.

Surely the point of the article is about declining numbers of women in Political and Public positions, not a general mothers in the workplace issue?

For me personally, as a Senior Manager in a Multinational firm, I personally would have no interest in switching to a political career, even though I have a strong direction to my politics. I think what is off putting is the perception of spin, deception, cover ups and back stabbing that I would perceive happens at a senior level. I prefer an honest days work for an honest days pay IYSWIM.

I've spent a long time encouraging an open and honest workforce and I've tried to set a great example of a flexible manager both to the males in my workforce who need the occasional "work at home" day as well as the females.

I wonder what the Serbians are doing to make it so accessible? Perhaps the female pillars have sacrificed family life for political? Perhaps at this fairly early stage of political development more women need to take a stand? I really don't know....

I'd love to know more about the background of the women in public life from other countries noted in the article, but it's a little succinct in that direction.

AmandaPayne Sun 24-Feb-13 19:13:50

Yes, we have got a bit off track Binfull.

I think the organisation of our political parties probably doesn't help. I'd guess (without wishing to gender stereotype) that the moronic grandstanding and dick waving of PMQs is pretty off putting to a lot of women. Likewise the fact that our parliament is not just mostly men, it is mostly public school boys - that's pretty off putting for anyone who isn't that group.

I also wonder whether women do better in countries with more coalition politics. Not because 'ooh, women collaborate', but more because there is more negotiation and not just pointless name calling and showboating before a foregone conclusion vote.

I think you've nailed it successfully there Amanda!

I always try and take an individual view, rather than a gender view whenever I can. However I can't help but feel that this is gender led behavior in our Government, and as you mention the Old Boys network, that other countries don't have to overcome.

I'm not sure how it is in the Police force but when I was younger our local constabularies were pretty much run from the local Masonic lodge.

UptoapointLordCopper Sun 24-Feb-13 21:15:04

I think many things are a gender issue. Men and women are viewed so differently for the same things they do. For example, there are studies that shows that men and women showing emotions are viewed differently. A professional man showing anger raises his status, but a professional woman who shows anger lowers her status: she is "an angry person" and not to be trusted. (This was in the last issue of New Scientist, and in Delusions of Gender too.) Because of this type of things we need to consider gender issues in more situations than we would like to. sad

I know Upto but in my optimistic world I always hope others are treating me as equally as I am them!

I know, I know.....sad

And actually for the first time, I am in a management structure surrounded by strong powerful working mums who do get emotional, angry and expressive - but always seem to be upfront, honest non game players. It's so refreshing!

UptoapointLordCopper Sun 24-Feb-13 21:57:43

I always assume others are treating me as an equal too. But periodically somebody or some event will disillusion you and put you in your place. And it makes me angry.

Schooldidi Sun 24-Feb-13 22:01:55

I always assume people are treating me equally too. It's very rare that someone disillusions me but when they do it makes me angry. It also makes me realise that other women are probably treated like that all the time and it's only luck that surrounds me with the nice people I know and love.

exoticfruits Sun 24-Feb-13 22:22:17

I can't think why anyone wants a position of power- I prefer a life. A lot of men are coming around to the fact that there is more to life than work. You work to live and not live to work. A position of power means that you miss the things that really matter - you are too busy.
I am glad that someone wants to do it but no way am I going to miss the early years of my DCs lives to get there- it is something money can't buy.
Even when I started teaching I knew that I would have no desire to be a Head. I went I to it because I wanted to be in the classroom- I didn't want to progress- it is a different job. I imagine that lots of women feel the same.
I would far rather go and live by the coast, do B&B , keep hens and grow vegetables than be a Head of Industry.

kim147 Sun 24-Feb-13 22:26:17

With you on that exotic
Life's too short to have the pressures of a career where you are too busy to enjoy life - especially family life.
I know people who have that high pressured city life - and it comes at a cost.

exoticfruits Sun 24-Feb-13 22:42:30

It comes at a huge cost - not one that I am willing to take. I would feel suicidal if I had to be on some hamster wheel if a career ladder with no time to read, go on long walks, see my DCs school play, be a Beaver leader, have my elderly mother to stay, cook proper meals, make chutney , have time to stand and stare etc etc etc. why on earth would I be working if I missed it all and had to get others to do it? I would much rather have enough money to pay the bills and have time.
I can't see why we have an obsession with jobs, power and status. I don't want status or power - they hold no appeal.

exoticfruits Sun 24-Feb-13 22:46:47

I can't even see why we are supposed to want it. Only a few want that sort of life- they need to organise it with their DP as to which goes for it. You can only have 2 parents in high power jobs if you pay for child care, housekeeping etc. and don't see much of your children. I would be jealous of the nanny who had the best job!

kickassangel Sun 24-Feb-13 23:31:53

I'm only a statistic of one, but the glass ceiling dropped on my head with a great thud as soon as I had a child. Previously I got every post I wanted, then I interviewed but didn't get several jobs after having dd. all the jobs I went for went to men or one woman who hated children and refused to have any (we were teachers btw).

This was even though I worked til 35 weeks pregnant, and would have continued if it wasn't the summer, and went on a training day unpaid when dd was 7 weeks, and and returned within 4 months.

But then there were enough women at our school who were deeply unhappy and we were putting together a folder of evidence for a sex discrimation case.

This is in teaching, an apparently family friendly and easy for women to work environment.

I can only imagine how much worse it must be in other places

sashh Mon 25-Feb-13 06:04:47

Not all women want or can have children.

I'd like to see a breakdown of the women who do make it to the top and see how many are mothers.

I think the ML rules are crap. It should be parental leave and fathers should be forced to take at least part of it.

The childcare cost is a red herring. Nursing is still predominantly a female job, but the nurses at managerial level are mainly male.

skrumle Mon 25-Feb-13 08:17:14

in relation to politics i think there are several issues:

selection is normally done by local parties - as a society we still appear to think that men are more capable (i think if we had a female prime minister and chancellor there would be unprecedented hand-wringing over whether men were being sidelined, which doesn't happen when both posts are filled by men). i believe most people still think there should be better representation of women, but not at the risk of under-representation of men. i had a woman in our local party tell me she had voted for the other candidate in a by-election selection because he was a man despite the fact she knew me better...

i think it's accepted as a norm that women are not as good at selling themselves as men. IMO women would be seen as pushy and arrogant for behaviour in men that would be seen as authoritative and confident. in party politics that means competent men often end up ahead of exceptional women.

there are still very few examples to aspire to, and if you get elected you are fighting against the norm which is kind of tiring...

childcare and time off for having children is actually less relevant IMO when it comes to politics because you don't necessarily need to build your career in the same way you normally would in industry, and it's not a 9-5 job so it's easier to juggle childcare (especially if you have a supportive partner who does work 9-5). the issue is perhaps that other people assume it will be a problem - when i was campaigning several people asked me how i was going to manage for childcare, i'm pretty sure they didn't ask my male opponent with school age children what he was going to do (even though i know both of us had primary care-giver responsibility).

exoticfruits Mon 25-Feb-13 08:21:40

If you want to get to the top you have to make it plain with any man you meet before you get involved. I think too many marry where the assumption is that the man's career comes first. You either need to make sure that the man isn't ambitious and is the one happy to tootle around on flexy time, being off if the DCs are ill, doing trips to the dentist, taking time off for Sport's Day, running up a costume for Egyptian day, cook the meal, mow the lawn etc OR you have to agree that you will both earn enough to have full time childcare, a cleaner, a gardener etc and that you may miss significant events in your DCs life.
I can see that it must be annoying ( not really a strong enough word) if you have arranged life so that you live to work, to be passed over for a man. However I think it sad that we are made to think that being Head of BP or a top class lawyer etc is the pinnacle we should all be aiming for and that it is superior. I would view it as a prison sentence. Lots of men don't want it either. You often get older men being fathers for the second time and they so much regret the fact that they were too busy the first time around building up their career - and wonder in retrospect what it was all for.
I agree that we don't have enough women at the top- where I disagree is that we shouldn't be made to feel that we ought to want to be there. If I was a nurse it would be because I wanted to work with patients - I wouldn't want to be a manager- if I wanted to do something at managerial level then I wouldn't have chosen nursing.
I was a teacher- my only ambition was to be a better teacher- a Head's job didn't attract me at all- or even a Deputy.
I have lots of ambitions but they don't have anything to do with paid employment.

exoticfruits Mon 25-Feb-13 09:11:06

I admire people like Daniel Day Lewis who is taking 5years off, going to Ireland to spend time with his family and learn rural crafts. The only point in having a top job would seem to be to earn the money to get off and be able to spend the time doing what you really want to do. Apparently he never wanted to be an actor- he wanted to be a cabinet maker but couldn't get the apprenticeship.
Making things with your hands, being artistic, nurturing etc are not inferior- a lot of people do it through choice - they are in their ideal job.
There is no way that I would go into politics and I would be very upset if DH were to want to do anything so detrimental to family life.

kickassangel Mon 25-Feb-13 17:33:04

But it isn't just about being a big shot CEO. To get there, there are many steps to go through, and too often at each cut off point the women drop by the way side, so that by the time you're choosing the top flyers there isn't much choice.

I don't particularly want to be a 'super head' of a school, but if I did, the experience of not getting promoted post mat leave wouldn't just demoralize me, it effectively cut me off from accessing the next ring up the ladder.

On average, I used to take a massive 1 day a year to take care of my sick kid. I worked longer hours and got better results than most of the men I worked with. Still not able to get the same jobs that they had handed to them (in some cases, without even advertising or interviewing for posts, they just gave the job to the next man in line). I doubt if my situation was unique.

It doesn't even have to be that obvious. Just a little extra pressure on the women each day can be enough to keep them back.

exoticfruits Mon 25-Feb-13 19:15:02

The thing is that very few people actually want high flying positions-which is just as well as there are very few of them.
I agree with you entirely on the cut off points.
What I dislike is the fact that these jobs are seen as the pinnacle and superior -whereas if you are artistic you will be much happier being a book illustrator, sewing dresses for a theatre etc
If I worked in medicine, which I don't, I would want to be a nurse-I would like to be treating Mr Smith in bed 4, the kindly old man who was once a gardener and can give a lot of tips,who like reading and is a great theatre goer etc etc etc-I have no interest in treating the gall bladder in bed 4 and yet I would be told that I ought not to wish this-I should aspire to be a surgeon.
Now boys have it so much easier-if they say they want to be a nurse, infant teacher etc people say 'wonderful, we need more men in these positions'. If a girl says it the assumption is that she is just pushed down a traditional path and is letting the side down-not that she is in her dream job.
I would find being a lawyer deadly boring, but working with autistic children absorbing, challenging and interesting. I don't expect everyone to feel the same- but I do hate the assumption that one is better- other than for the individual who wants to do it.
In the paper today it says that one out of three professional people are suffering burn out-I am not surprised. Lots of men and women don't want it. The other story is the shocking statistic of the number of teenagers who are depressed and self harming. A lot of it is down to the pressure of being 'perfect' in all ways. Girls are more prone to it than boys. A lot of it is the pressure to do well at school and get a good career. I'm sure that a lot would be happier if they could admit to just jogging along with something they enjoy.
By all means aspire to being top of your chosen career but there is no need to make women feel that they ought to and that it is a desirable choice.

I must admit that I am surprised -3 times I have come back to this thread with trepidation -wearing my tin hat -expecting to be attacked. Maybe it will come now!
I just think that a lot of women must be like me and want to work around the family. I could never be Prime Minister because if my child was in hospital I would be with them-they would be my priority regardless of anything else.

exoticfruits Mon 25-Feb-13 19:22:04

I feel that I had the best of it when mine were small. I had a career that could earn good money. I was a supply teacher. I wrote down all dates that I needed to be free for children's things -nativity plays -trips to the orthodontist etc and kept them free-I accepted work for the rest. It was ideal for me but was never going to be a path to a Headship. If I had wanted a career path then I would have to organise things differently and miss things. In that situation I agree entirely and it would be monstrously unfair to overlook me for a man.

UptoapointLordCopper Mon 25-Feb-13 20:16:13

I agree exoticfruits (which types of exotic fruits!?). But I also think that the ideas of "success" and "good career" need rethinking. I haven't "progressed" in my career for many years, yet I do almost exactly what I like at work (mostly - too much to ask for 100%, I guess, but a good 95%, I think), I do almost exactly what I like in my spare time (ditto), and I get as much contact with my kids as possible (bar school hours, which are too long, if you ask me). Why am I not a great success in the eyes of society? That is what puzzles me. confused grin

Schooldidi Mon 25-Feb-13 20:37:11

I agree with a lot of what Skrumle says. Politics is really difficult and the different ways the same behaviours are percieved in men and women makes a huge difference. It must be very difficult to find way to fit into the Old Boys club in the House of Commons. I certainly wouldn't want to do it and I don't know a single other woman who would want to. Then again I only know 2 men who want to go into politics either, so I'm possibly not moving in the right circles or maybe it's just not something many people want to go into.

I also agree with exotic in that a lot of the 'good career' stuff and 'success' is not what many of us want. There is a promotion available at work, out of a department of 14 of us only 1 person has applied for the promotion because the rest of us would rather have a better work/life balance. I enjoy my job, I am good at it, but it already takes up as much of my time as I want it to, I don't want any extra responsibility to creep into my family time.

kickass my experience of teaching has been quite different to yours. I had dd1 before I went into teaching and every position I ahve ever been offered has been as a mother. I have only missed out on one job I have gone for and I readily admit that I wasn't properly prepared for that interview as dd2 was only a few weeks old at the time, it went to another woman with 2dcs. I was even asked to apply for the promotion that is currently being advertised and I think I would stand a good chance of getting it if I wanted it but I don't. It will possibly go to a man but that's only because he is the 'in-house' candidate and they know what he is capable of more than any external candidates.

kickassangel Mon 25-Feb-13 21:53:54

That still leaves us with the question of why there is such a lack of balance between the genders. Why isn't here an even number of men and women who are wanting/nit wanting the top jobs and getting them?

Schooldidi Mon 25-Feb-13 21:57:24

I don't know the answer to that kickass. In my mind it should be a far more even split. There must be a lot of factors going on that I haven't thought about or experienced.

kim147 Mon 25-Feb-13 22:09:16

There was an article somewhere about women not wanting to apply for jobs / positions they don't think they are qualified for whereas men are more likely to do that.



exoticfruits Mon 25-Feb-13 22:22:28

Chiefly mangoes!

I would say that there are more men who want power and influence and they can always find a woman who wants to be provided with the things that it gives - seeing as they can be old, ugly and quite nasty, but if they have money and a powerful position they will always be able to attract a beautiful woman. Women who get powerful and rich are far more fussy! They are not likely to want a man who is good looking but useless! It is easier if you have support.

There are lots of men who don't want it and are quite happy to step off the career ladder- if they are a bit of a maverick they can often jump back. Women tend to go for a more cautious, conscientious way up. e.g. a friend of DSs has a very good degree and job and he has given it all up to lead heli skiing trips, another is similar and has had a complete change and is making films for next to nothing- finances being on a shoe string and he may have to give up. Who knows where it will go? It may be an advantage in the long run, it may not- but they are having a ball at the moment! Both are single with only themselves to consider.
This is just a theory that has occurred to me as I write - a generality and no doubt there are lots of exceptions.

kim147 Mon 25-Feb-13 22:27:30

"Both are single with only themselves to consider. "

Happy days. But DS is worth it. I keep reminding myself

exoticfruits Mon 25-Feb-13 22:44:34

Women do seem to be their worst enemies! There is a thread at the moment about travelling alone and it is amazing how many won't! In many cases they are not even considering abroad- they wouldn't go to London and get the tube!
The difference is that a man would never be on the Internet saying they are too scared to travel alone and that you must be very brave to get yourself from London to Barcelona! You can hardly consider a top job if you won't get yourself to Edinburgh! Sorry for all the exclamation marks- it is just an eye opener to me reading it. I have DSs and they just arrange travel themselves and go and do it - I am not talking about the third world just fairly safe places. DS got himself across US on his own aged 18yrs- and he is dyslexic which can make signs slow to read.

Schooldidi Mon 25-Feb-13 22:50:23

I know exotic I had to hide that thread because otherwise I would have called some of them pathetic which would have been very rude. I travelled round India by myself at 18. I had a placement to go to but didn't know how to get there until I was having to do it. I then went to Australia completely by myself with nobody to meet me there, I went all sorts of places by myself and loved it. Dd1 is 13 and went on a music course with a friend, I suggested they took the train together, a direct route with a 5 min walk at the other end, but her parents organised a lift direct from door to door because it wasn't safe for them to get the train apparently confused

exoticfruits Mon 25-Feb-13 22:53:07

You can see now why they don't let their DCs travel alone and the whole problem was probably caused by their parents being over protective. It is pathetic!

Oinkypig Mon 25-Feb-13 23:06:09

I work in the NHS in a training post ( as a dentist not a doctor) and got pregnant very unexpectedly. I am now back at work full time and I am so fed up of people asking what days are you working? Only to pull a bit of a face when I say full time. It's honestly like they cannot conceive of a mother working full time. I love my job I always have. In the hospital I work in it is an expectation that Iif you have kids you go part time, I think a pp did say that flexible working is great but not if mums are forced into it, and I felt lots of pressure to go part time, I had comments like, well see how you get on, if you cant cope being back full time just say. Can't imagine it ever bring said to a male trainee!

FloraFox Tue 26-Feb-13 00:41:11

exoticfruits I'm not sure I've got your points straight. You say you think there are no enough women at the top, that you don't want to be at the top and you don't think many others do and that it is up to individual women to clear their lives so that if they want to achieve that, they can do so. That is, in fact, the problem.

Most top jobs do not actually require a person to completely give up their lives in order to do the job properly. To the extent people are expected to do so now, it is relatively recent, coinciding largely with the appearance of significant numbers of women who are capable of doing those jobs. hmm

If you think that there should be more women in senior jobs, it's not sufficient to say that women must make arrangements so they can devote all of their lives to the job. In fact, many men in senior jobs spend significant amounts of time on activities not related to the job (writing books, being boards of charities, pro bono work, climbing fucking Kilimanjaro) which are all seen as legitimate whereas spending time with family is not. As I said up thread, in my fairly limited experience of working in Sweden, men and women in senior roles would get up and leave important meetings to go to their children's school activities and would talk openly about their childcare arrangements. I believe this attitude would contribute to more senior women in business. Another poster made a comment about paternity leave - I believe there should be a non-transferable right for men to take longer paternity leave. Quotas for senior representation are also something I would look at closely.

exoticfruits Tue 26-Feb-13 07:46:41

It isn't like Sweden here- you can't talk openly about child care and expect to go to an activity. You couldn't have a senior post and say I need to leave work at 5 on the dot on Mondays because I am a Cub leader.
You are a unit with your DH. It is a fact that a man is quite likely to have a wife quite happy to be the one in the lesser career - most career women want an equal , they are not really happy with a man who has no ambitions.
They do need to agree before they have children.
Not every woman wants to half the child care- I loved being home with babies- to have had to go out to work and left DH at home would have made me very miserable. There was no real need for him to have paternity leave.
The reason that people ask the dentist which hours they work after the baby is that most women want part time. If I was a dentist there is no way at all I would go full time unless I was forced to- I would want to do a bit to keep up to date.I know a vet at the moment- she only wants to go back part time. Most teachers want a job share.
Men can only write books, go climbing etc once they get to the top- they can't manage it in the way up. If a woman is working part time she has time to write a book, be on boards of charities (they are always wanting unpaid people) or go climbing- you don't have to go abroad.
My only point is that women shouldn't be made to feel that they need to aim for the top- many have a much more interesting, enjoyable time jogging along at the bottom. It is up to the individual to choose what they want.

FloraFox Tue 26-Feb-13 08:19:59

I am not a "unit" with my DH for work purposes. His work is his work and mine is mine. You are describing the problem as if it were immutable. I don't agree that most women want to work part time nor that men cannot do other activities on the way up. Your experience of senior work positions is much different from mine.

It's not up to the individual to choose because the deck is stacked. Our society and business practice favour men for senior roles.

We are a very long way from women being made to feel they need to aim for the top. When that's even remotely on the horizon I'll start worrying about it.

blueshoes Tue 26-Feb-13 08:29:21

I agree with FloraFox. Ironically the more senior you are, the more flexibility that comes with the role if it becomes more management, client entertaining and strategic rather than day-to-day firefighting. You have to be there for crucial meetings and events but in between that, there is room for long lunches, disappearing in the middle of the day or leaving early, whilst being available at the end of a blackberry.

The partners at my firm can openly talk about attending child-related events like sports day or during the Olympics taking the family for some blow out event. It makes them look like great dads.

Senior roles are not necessarily the all consuming roles they are made out to be. But to get to those roles, there will be a period where the employee has to put in the hours that god gave to prove themselves more worthy than their peers. That is what is hard for women because these years coincide with their childbearing and engine room years. Going pt and the expectation is that women will ask to go pt after dcs is the often kiss of death.

In other countries, like Singapore where I am from, there are proportionally more women in senior management roles than in the UK. I reckon that is because it is socially acceptable and even expected that professional women would go back to work ft after children. Maternity leave is also much shorter. Pt work, if it exists, is ghetto-ised and most professional woman would not see that as a realistic option. The wanting to go back to work pt after dcs is partly cultural and a result of social conditioning, as is the belief that is prevalent in the UK that children can only fully thrive in the ft care of one parent during their early years.

FloraFox Tue 26-Feb-13 08:29:40

I am not a "unit" with my DH for work purposes. His work is his work and mine is mine. You are describing the problem as if it were immutable. I don't agree that most women want to work part time nor that men cannot do other activities on the way up. Your experience of senior work positions is much different from mine.

It's not up to the individual to choose because the deck is stacked. Our society and business practice favour men for senior roles.

We are a very long way from women being made to feel they need to aim for the top. When that's even remotely on the horizon I'll start worrying about it.

exoticfruits Tue 26-Feb-13 08:35:41

Once you have a child you are a family unit. The world doesn't owe you a living and isn't much interested.
There are 4 possibilities
The father is the one who takes most of the childcare e.g if the child is ill he is the one who stays at home.
The mother is the one who does most of it.
They do it equally and it is whoever is free- never assuming it is someone's role.
They are both too busy and they farm it all out with nannies etc.

Society doesn't favour any parent who is putting childcare first- you only have to hear the childless on the subject!
Many women want to be the one with the childcare- I certainly do.
I can't see the answer unless businesses are more child friendly in attitudes and hours. The dedicated career person, man or woman, without dependants is going to get the job first. If you want someone to go to New York tomorrow, you want one who can say 'I will go and pack my bag' and not one who says 'I will just have to ring round, see what DH/DW is doing, see if my parents can come over, see if the Nanny can change hours' etc.

blueshoes Tue 26-Feb-13 08:40:57

If we are to have more women at the top of politics or business, we have to have, as a starting point, fewer of these women who want to go pt indefinitely and spend time 'jogging at the bottom'.

Sure, not everyone wants to shoot for the moon, but those that do are overwhelmingly male. Until women show that burning hunger to get to the top, why should organisations turn themselves inside out to accomodate half hearted ambivalent candidates.

Then on top of that, there are the changes that the organisation must make to remove the hard and soft barriers that stand in women's way, like stop writing employees off who want to go pt or downscale for a short period of their lives, more mentoring for women and grooming them for top posts, and being aware of attitudes how they are reacting to women (e.g. women seen as aggressive but men seen as assertive, women having less presence, no or small network for entertaining).

These attitudes take a long time to change, but it is not helped if so many women just want to be the supportive act at home rather than an equal if not more powerful force in the workplace.

FloraFox Tue 26-Feb-13 08:51:23

Who said the world owes anyone a living? I find that a little ironic talking about women wanting to work full time, don't you exotic?

We can actually make rules about these things and, in fact, the EU Working Time Directive does that to some extent. The UK government lobbied for us to permit an opt out so we can work longer hours than any other country. It would be a pretty easy start to actually enforce it.

kickassangel Tue 26-Feb-13 11:42:22

We are still discussing this from the point of view of the individuals. You have to look at the structures in society to understand how the individual makes their decisions.

E.g. If parental leave didn't come heavily loaded to be expected that the woman take the time off work. When women give birth, they often need time to recover, possibly several months. That time gets tied up with the baby's needs and labelled as mat leave when in fact there are 2 different people with needs. For practical reasons it is often the mother who has to care for the baby, but if you look at the bf figures, actually it's less than 50% of babies that need the mother to be at home. The majority of women are fit to return to work within a couple of weeks.

Why not give the mother sick/recuperation leave (as people have when recovering from other medical situations) and then have parental leave as a separate issue?

Separating out looking after the baby from the time the mother needs to recover could have some practical and psychological benefits, one of them being that that people would stop the automatic assumption that mothers need to stay home for long periods.

Schooldidi Tue 26-Feb-13 12:33:23

That makes a lot of sense to me kickass. I'd love to have had it as sick leave then have the option to share parental leave with dp. Personally I'd still have taken it as maternity leave but that's only because my employer has a better deal than dp's employer so we'd have had more money. I only took 4 months anyway though (then had the 6 weeks summer holidays a couple of weeks after I went back).

UptoapointLordCopper Tue 26-Feb-13 13:30:09

Does anyone know of any studies on ambition- whatever that means - whether men are really more "ambitious" than women? It seems to me we either get anecdotal evidence ("all the women I met" or "I don't want it and I'm a woman" etc) or just the conclusion ("more men than women in parliament"). And the fact that fewer women ended up in "higher positions" does not mean than women are less ambitious. I would like to know if there are credible studies on this ...

UptoapointLordCopper Tue 26-Feb-13 13:31:52

And hello blueshoes - I think we used to meet at the bilingual board but I might have had a different name before ...

Schooldidi Tue 26-Feb-13 15:49:34

I googled and found a couple of studies Upto. I haven't read them fully because I am at work so I have no idea how credible they are but they look like they might be quite interesting.

Institute of leadership and management study

This is a newspaper article rather than a study but it looks like it should have some studies linked in it

an American study that looks at work and family life of both men and women

Schooldidi Tue 26-Feb-13 15:53:08

Meant to say, yes all the evidence we hear regularly is anecdotal. I'm quite a geek in terms of wanting to see large studies with statistical significance, looking at individuals or small groups is always tricky. I always think as well that the women who want to advance or are rather ambitious probably aren't spending as much time on discussion forums like mumsnet as those of us who are happy where we are, so we're a self selecting sample rather than a truly representative sample.

exoticfruits Tue 26-Feb-13 18:09:38

but it is not helped if so many women just want to be the supportive act at home rather than an equal if not more powerful force in the workplace.

But this is why I am posting in the first place-many women absolutely love being the support at home. I am one. I find it much more exciting, absorbing and interesting than being 'a powerful force in the workforce'. When I am in the workforce I just want an interesting career I have no desire whatsoever to be a power-it doesn't interest me. There is nothing wrong with this-it isn't inferior -there is room for all.
There is no way that I will get to the top because my family comes before work. If work suddenly announced that I had to see an important client and it happened to be the evening I was seeing my DS in his school play then I am going to the play-I am not telling DS that anything is more important to me. I am not pretending it is OK to send just Dad or put Granny in my place-I am not going to miss it. Since this isn't on in the work place I made sure that I was never in a position where it would happen.
I agree with the comment on it in the paper today. It points out that many successful women step off the career ladder in their 30s and 40s.

*I think of the many successful women I’ve known — in newspapers, the City, teaching, local government — who have stepped off the career ladder in their thirties or forties. It wasn’t because they hit a glass ceiling. It wasn’t because the men in suits got together over brandy and cigars at the club and decided this feminism nonsense had gone far enough. And it wasn’t as though these women would not have been promoted if they’d hung on. Why did they choose to eschew power? A variety of reasons: because they wanted children; because they wanted to spend time with the children they already had; because, while they were prepared to work 50 hours a week, they weren’t up for working 60, or 70, or 80; because they weren’t greedy; because they didn’t want a life of networking and schmoozing and creeping and politicking; because they didn’t fancy the drudgery and hassle of being an MP or a councillor; because they wanted to work from home sometimes; because, when it came to it, they were ambitious but not at any cost.
They got out of the lift before it reached the very top, in other words, because they were sane, rational, normal people, and wanted to stay that way. It all depends on your definition of power, doesn’t it? When they thought it through, these women — like most women, and indeed most men — valued control over their own lives more highly than control over other peoples’.*

This is me. I was older when I had me DCs-40yrs when the youngest was born. I knew what I wanted and it wasn't to climb a career ladder.

exoticfruits Tue 26-Feb-13 18:11:28

I don't know why men want to stay in the lift either-much better to get off and have time.

exoticfruits Tue 26-Feb-13 18:15:00

I always think as well that the women who want to advance or are rather ambitious probably aren't spending as much time on discussion forums like mumsnet as those of us who are happy where we are, so we're a self selecting sample rather than a truly representative sample.

Very true. I have been surprised that very few have added comments-I nearly didn't post-I expected far more of a backlash. Even Xenia hasn't appeared-she must be too busy!

exoticfruits Tue 26-Feb-13 18:16:45

It is quite probable that if I had had children when young I would feel differently-not having time to find out that I didn't want to climb upwards.

kim147 Tue 26-Feb-13 20:32:36

I saw where the lift was going a long time ago - when people ask that question at interview about where do you see your career going, it's kind of tricky because i just want to be a better teacher without all the hassle and time demanding responsibilities that a head of department etc had.

I'm not sure if that kind of answer is seen as being good for a school but it's what I want.

FloraFox Tue 26-Feb-13 21:03:37

exotic you have said you would find my job "deadly boring" (not sure how you'd know that) but your main point is that you don't want to be judged for your decision to stay home. I must say, I'm not really getting the FWR angle. It feels a bit like you're trying to pick a fight.

Dazzler159 Tue 26-Feb-13 21:22:31

exoticfruits Tue 26-Feb-13 18:09:38

Long time lurker but thought I'd finally sign up to say that I thought your post was (for me anyway) one of the most coherent that I've read in a long time. It echoes how I feel as a man (as well as many successful women that I know who have had children).

My wife worked her way up the finance ladder until we decided to have children and then pursued her ultimate career goal (to be a SAHM) and devote her time to our children. If money were no object then I'd have joined her too as looking after children is the greatest job anyone can choose. My employers can take their management and power as I have no interest in it and as such I got off the lift a long time ago.

For most of my career I've seen what is necessary to get to the top and it sucks. I have no interest in selling my soul when the things that really matter i.e. my wife and kids, are at home looking forward to spending quality time with me. I've often been earmarked for management roles but have shunned them every time as I don't want it. I also wanted to see my kids at sports day, plays, musicals and in the orchestra. When I look back on my life I will always remember seeing my kids and spending time with my wife. I very much doubt I will give two hoots about not driving some faceless company in some wonderful direction.

I have friends that are directors for multinationals and they are a great example of how I don't want to live my life. It takes a special breed of human to turn their backs on their families (via work) and my guess is that there are more men prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice than women.

exoticfruits Tue 26-Feb-13 21:24:27

Since I don't know what your job is I have 't said it is deadly boring- unless it came under ones that I wouldn't like such as lawyer or surgeon. You can't expect everyone to like the same. One persons dream job is another person's nightmare job.
Like Kim - if some one asks me how I see my career going I just want to be a better teacher- however it won't go down well to say that you don't want a post of responsibility and you want a 4day week.
If you want to get to the top, man or woman, you can't say that seeing your DCs school play will always come first. The PM must miss a lot - he has to.
The most important thing to me is time- far more important than money or power. Lots of women are the same. The vet I mentioned earlier doesn't want to go back at all yet but she will because she is being offered reduced hours that suit her. If she gives up the job and wants to go back in a couple of years she won't get such favourable days. She doesn't want full time.

kickassangel Tue 26-Feb-13 21:32:05

In the US children age 12 equally want to run for president. Within 3 years of that the boys outnumber the girls. Similar things happen to girls in sport. It seems that the early teenage years are when girls start opting out but numbers for boys continue.

What is happening in those years that makes girls stop wanting to be president or do sport? What else do they drop out of?

exoticfruits Tue 26-Feb-13 21:33:33

Life like that sucks to me too Dazzler. I can't see who you want it when it stops you having a life. Much better to go off out of the rat race , both earn less money for less hours and have time to skim stones in the sea, fly kites , go for long bike rides etc. Childhood is so short- the very time that people are climbing ladders and they miss it. As a DC I would want my parents at my school play, not sending Granny because they had no time.
There are people who seek power and money first. - are workaholics - but not all.
This thread is very slow moving- I expected everyone to pile in and tell me I was wrong. The article was from the Times- it got one comment!
Seeker started it- as far as I can see she is at home, enjoying life with her DCs, whatever she is doing she doesn't appear to have the high flying career she thinks we should all want- even though her youngest is now at secondary school and she could get back on the ladder.

FloraFox Tue 26-Feb-13 22:00:30

Perhaps the reason no-one is "piling in" is that you have set up a straw man argument that no-one cares about. No-one has said they expect everyone to like the same. Where did Seeker say she thinks we should all have high flying careers?

exoticfruits Tue 26-Feb-13 22:02:18

The big step forward seems to me to be that many men think that a work/life balance is far more important than power and influence. Unfortunately, tradition makes it far more difficult for them to say they would like a job share or they need to finish right on time everyday to collect from nursery. Anyone who does those things isn't going to get to the top of the ladder. We have this mad system where lots of people can't get a job and those with one work silly, punishing hours. Someone said that the men at the top can do all sorts of things in addition BUT that is only when they get there- on the way up they are frightened to take time off or go home early in case the bosses think they can manage without them! They can also put their heart and soul into it only to be called in and told to clear their desk - they are redundant.

blueshoes Tue 26-Feb-13 22:04:58

Waves to uptoapoint smile

exoticfruits Tue 26-Feb-13 22:12:12

She started the thread.
This is very slow moving. If I am on threads that people feel deeply about I can hardly keep up. Every time I come back it takes 30 mins to catch up. Teachers giving up holidays was one such - and it was full before we had finished. If I didn't keep posting this would die.
If people feel deeply about it they pile in and quite honestly I expected to get lynched! I thought if it was too bad I would just hide it! It hasn't been like that and I have had support.
Lots of women don't want the power and influence because they see the personal cost and think it is too much. You have to question why you are working if it doesn't let you live the way that you want to live.if you want to live that way, and it gives you a real buzz, then go for it- but don't expect everyone to feel the same. It is impossible to have your perfect professional life and perfect homelife- something has to give.

blueshoes Tue 26-Feb-13 22:15:18

So exotic, your answer to why there are fewer women at the top of politics and public life is because power and conventional success is not what you (and apparently many women) want and great that more men are turning away from it and don't judge you or them. Huh?

We need people to make the personal sacrifices to lead the country. The question is why it is men that are prepared to do it, want it and achieve it in greater numbers than women in the UK. And why are the rates of women participation at the top so much lower in the UK than other countries.

You are not answering the question and in fact hijacking the thread to run some pseudo-anti-work argument of your own I don't fully understand.

Dazzler159 Tue 26-Feb-13 22:17:03


FWIW I don't think you are wrong as you're making perfect sense to me. The trouble is, most articles are primarily focused on statistics, like only 25% of CEOs being women. Maybe it should be 50% I really don't know but as an analyst I know that statistics are pretty useless unless you dig deeper, much deeper, into the reasons why the numbers are like they are. Motivation and drive to become powerful is most definitely a factor in all this so you are not wide of the mark at all. It's a very valid question but one that is not addressed as much as publishing statistics.

I have a very wealthy friend who, before kids, had her own business and earned money I could only dream of. Business is in her blood. A real high flyer who doesn't know the meaning of 'glass ceiling'. When she had kids (in her late 30s) it all changed and now is happy to work part time. Her kids come first despite having a husband that earned pennies compared to her. They are not followers of convention so it would have been more logical for him to stay at home and be sole carer. Yet this did not happen.

I've seen this happen with many successful women.

exoticfruits Tue 26-Feb-13 22:17:06

Straw arguments always set people off!

blueshoes Tue 26-Feb-13 22:17:29

Flora is right about the reasons nobody is piling in. I am glad you are happy exotic, but I don't really see the relevance of what you say to this thread.

SizzleSazz Tue 26-Feb-13 22:19:40

Exotic - i agree with your lift analogy smile. I also with blueshoes that just when that lift is heading towards the top floor is (typically) when women are having DC's and looking at mad hours/dull schmoozing/ego mania versus sane life and choose the latter. This might not be giving up a career fully, but accepting they don't want to be part of the merry-go-round and head for PT roles or roles with less pressure (and likely career progression)

Dazzler, interesting viewpoint, although i do have to disagree with "looking after children is the greatest job anyone can choose". Unfortunately I can't seem to 'choose' it as it drives me demented, but PT works nicely smile

exoticfruits Tue 26-Feb-13 22:26:22

I would say that it is lower in UK because child care is expensive and not exactly helpful- businesses don't take much interest.
Many women have their biological clock and fully intend to go back full time but change their mind once they have their baby. I think that we should help and encourage the women who want to get there- we need more. However we should understand that many are simply not interested.
Probably only about 2% of the population want the power and influence - the unfortunate thing is that more of them are men.
I am just surprised that anyone wants it- but am thankful that someone wants to do it. It needs a change of attitude in the workplace and better childcare if we are to get more women.

exoticfruits Tue 26-Feb-13 22:31:19

However looking after children is the greatest career for some- we are all different. I am not going to be an MP if I am jealous of my nanny and think she is having a better deal.
Men probably get on better because they don't tell other men what they should think.

Dazzler159 Tue 26-Feb-13 22:37:54


I can't speak for all men but the directors I know just want to achieve, be the boss and have all the trappings that come with it. I wonder if the difference is loads more testosterone and the need to beat your chest and be the alpha male. We are animals after all and many animal species have males that fight to be 'top dog'. I don't see why we are any different.

To answer your question i think you'd have to carry out some sociological study to determine the factors that lead more men to make the sacrifice than women. I can only speculate (as we all can) about why this is so but that's all we can do surely.

Dazzler159 Tue 26-Feb-13 22:43:37


Lol ok I take that back as I got carried away. It's the greatest job that 'some' of us can choose wink

UptoapointLordCopper Tue 26-Feb-13 22:46:57

I skimmed through schooldidi's links. It seems that in one report there is no gender gap for ambition - these are findings from asking questions about whether you would ask for more pay and whether you are satisfied with your job. In another report there is a gender gap for self-reported ambition - "how confident are you" type questions. If you read the Delusions of Gender where it shows that there is no gender gap for empathising skills but there is a gap for self-reported empathising skill, then you might be suspicious of the findings. Arguments about how "women prefer not to do this or that" has always been used to justify suppression. I would be very careful about using that.

And so to bed. See you all tomorrow!

<< Quick hijack: how are you doing blueshoes? My email address still works if you've still got it. Go for coffee or something if you are around this neck of the woods. >>

blueshoes Tue 26-Feb-13 23:20:53

Hi uptoapoint, I have just PM-ed you smile

kickassangel Tue 26-Feb-13 23:47:07

yes, I agree with uptoapoint.

you're completely ignoring the structures that lead women to decide not to go for a career. Why at age do the decisions get made that make them think it isn't worth the work required? I don't think it's an inherent thing, and you can't compare us to 'pack animals' - might as well compare us to butterflies or sea horses.

Why do young girls want to be president, but STOP wanting that by the time they're in the mid teens? Somewhere they are picking up the messages that it's a man's role, or that women have to stay home to take care of the babies, or that they don't have the skills, stamina etc.

I don't agree with 'you can't be what you can't see' entirely (otherwise we'd never have a first female anything) but it IS hard to aspire to a role which is never shown to you. e.g. a flight I got on recently where 100% of business class were men in suits. Hard for my daughter to get on that flight, see the business class section, and think 'I want to be just like that woman over there'. At best she might think 'I want to sit in the nice area' but that's a far less specific aim, and harder to carry out. She doesn't identify with being a man so, however much she logically thinks she's just as able, the reptilian part of her brain won't make that connection, there will not be the emotional impulse.

FloraFox Wed 27-Feb-13 04:19:37

"Men probably get on better because they don't tell other men what they should think."

What a load of crap.

exoticfruits Wed 27-Feb-13 07:22:11

It isn't a load of crap. You would never get a discussion like this where some are having to justify the fact that they want to go and live in Cornwall and get a job that doesn't take a lot if effort, gives them just enough money BUT gives them the time to go surfing several days a week. They might privately think they were mad, but they wouldn't be telling them that they ought to be aiming higher.
Not many women are going to want to be MPs. Imagine that you are an MP in a Yorkshire constituency, you have children, you have to be in Westminster and you also have to be in your constituency. Your DH is a surgeon in Leeds. How can you possibly manage? When your DCs are little you can bundle them about. As they get older they won't take kindly to it. Probably boarding school solves some of the problems. I wouldn't even want to be married to an MP- it isn't the life I envisaged. It also makes the DH or DW or DP be involved whether they like it or not- having to go to official receptions etc.
A child changes your life. I was speaking to a friend yesterday. Her DD and SIL both have careers in London. They live about an hours travelling distance away. They have a DD in nursery and all is well except that if the nursery phone up and say DD isn't well, please come and collect her they are stuffed. They have no back up except my friend who is 3 hours away and is a busy woman- she has commitments and a part time job that she can't just drop. They are thinking they might have to get a nanny instead. They have no idea how they will manage once the DD goes to school but are shelving the problem in the meantime- it will probably mean long visits to Granny or auntie who lives in Cornwall and doesn't work. Meanwhile the parent that can most easily collect her at the time does it, but it doesn't go down well in the office.
Child care falls down if they are ill. I have been guilty of dosing mine up with calpol and saying, 'I'm sure you will be fine' when I have had to be at work and had no cover - when I speak to anyone they have done the same. As a teacher I know they do.
The only way to get to the top is to have a nanny, use boarding schools and have relatives who will have them to stay in holidays. Many women would rather see more of their DCs and get off the ladder.
Seeker started the thread and has never returned. I don't know if she was ever on a ladder but I get the impression that she hasn't been on since her DCs were born and since the youngest could now have a key and let himself in after school she still isn't climbing one- she seems immersed in her DCs and life at home- I get the impression that this is choice and she seems happy - not bitter that it has stopped her doing what she wished. In that case she ought to understand that many women are simply not on a ladder because they don't want to be.
I think we need more women at the top but it takes a very ambitious woman who loves their job.

exoticfruits Wed 27-Feb-13 07:46:11

It also takes a very ambitious man who loves his job. DH's boss is one - his work is his life and he doesn't know what to do without it. He loves it. He has no DCs and his wife has to have a life of her own, he hardly ever sees her! He starts early, works late and travels overseas often. He takes holidays but if he can combine them with work he does! There is nothing wrong with this but I wouldn't marry anyone like him!

FloraFox Wed 27-Feb-13 08:02:04

"You would never get a discussion like this where some are having to justify the fact that..."

You are the only person talking about that. You clearly feel you need to justify your choice at great and frankly fucking tedious length. You are the one saying others should be happy to jog along the bottom. No-one has asked you to justify your choice but you can't seem to stop doing it.

What you said about men getting ahead because they don't tell other men what to think is still a lot of crap.

HecateWhoopass Wed 27-Feb-13 08:25:58

I suspect this is relevent

I would imagine it isn't very nice to be a woman in westminster.

exoticfruits Wed 27-Feb-13 08:52:31

You have a wonderful way of twisting my words to suit the way that you want to portray me, FloraFox - it isn't actually what I am saying at all.
I would say there is a lot of truth in the article, Hecate and I suppose women should fight it - most just take the easy way and keep well away from that type of environment. I know an MP and all her DCs are at boarding school- not something I would be willing to do. She also has to attend no end of boring functions- a lot in the evenings. You only have to read threads on here and you realise that people like me are highly irresponsible - we hire babysitters ( shock horror- some are still teenagers!!) many never go out because they won't trust anyone with their DCs.
I feel that I am a reasonably well balanced adult, I drive on the motor way on my own, I travel alone (even abroad) I trust my judgement about people, e.g. hiring babysitters, letting my 5 yr old go to a play date of a DC of a woman I don't know well, I can stand up in front of a roomful of people and give a talk, I can delegate to the DCs, leave an 8yr old for 10 mins alone, let a 12yr old cook dinner. I could go on and on but you only have to read MN for a short while to realise that many, many, many women can't do these things - and then you expect them to manage a home and keep a high flying career!
The difference with men is that they bluff a lot- even if worried they don't tell people!
My personal reason is that I always wanted children, circumstances made it seem as if I wouldn't (or only one). I was lucky enough to manage 3 by my personal age cut off point. It is the best thing I have done and work fitted around them- it was my choice not to fit them around work. It isn't wrong to do it the other way , many would climb the walls at home- we are all different.
Many women have no interest in power or influence, even if the path were easy.
I have been much heartened by the fact that it is a very slow thread - only kept going by me and a few other people. Since I am so tedious I will leave and it can carry on without me - or just quietly get buried.

Dazzler159 Wed 27-Feb-13 08:54:53

kickassangel Tue 26-Feb-13 23:47:07

The thing is, people choose not to go for a career for a multitude of reasons. We're individuals and whilst there may be some structure that conditions us there will be a point at which we will all use our own judgement to override societal 'norms' or do what we see as being best. You cannot overlook this aspect of human nature, otherwise feminists would never have attempted to challenge the norms that have disadvantaged women. I think you're right about looking into the rationale behind women dropping off. IMHO this is the most important aspect. Stats are useless without this kind of research. Legislating for quotas is fair enough but this is only really a band-aid and does not get to the root of the issue(s). Some of it may well be due to sexism and continued oppression but some of it may not be.

I found the links posted by Schooldidi very interesting but even these do not go deep enough. The 'Institue of Leadership & Management' document was probably the most relevant to us (given the other two were US based and their culture is very different to ours) but even this was a survey of already working men/women. The bigger question is why the ambition of a lot of women lags behind men? I have no shame in admitting I haven't a clue but it most definitely isn't exclusively because of the patriarchy.

I would say that some women obviously don't give two hoots about norms, some do and then some have other ideas of how they want to live their lives. I've worked with people that thought they wanted everything but realised the rat race is a complete waste of time. Some have given 100% to companies and when the chips were down, their loyalty was rewarded with redundancy.

I don't want a high flying career because my values lie with my family, not with power or money. My wife's values are looking after kids and making a home. This isn't conditioning, it's living a life according to one's values.

HecateWhoopass Wed 27-Feb-13 08:25:58

That is an interesting article but is anecdotal with no real evidence. There are numerous incidences on this board where anecdotes are discarded because it fails to represent the 'bigger picture'. If we are being balanced then I would say the same applies to that article.

Funnily enough the comments are spot on. The article is useless without naming/shaming the culprits.

FloraFox Wed 27-Feb-13 08:02:04

*You clearly feel you need to justify your choice at great and frankly fucking tedious length*

This is exactly why I've been a long time lurker and will soon return to resuming my lurking. I've often read on these boards the reaction of the regulars who disagree with people that hold a different, but equally valid, POV. They are swiftly belittled, insulted and treated like they have no place/right to their opinions. I find it shameful and a poor advertisement for anyone that might think that feminism may be for them. I wouldn't dare speak to anyone with such disrespect and find it amazing how you 'believe' women to be equal but can easily show such disregard to another woman sad

seeker Wed 27-Feb-13 08:55:38

I had actually forgotten that I had started this thread!

Somebody mentioned my SAHM status- I think I am in a slightly different position to many because I had my children so late,that I was already about as high in my career as I was likely to get, and if I had chosen to go back to work I could have done. Often the more senior you are,the more say you have in your working conditions! However, I chose not to go back. Although I am a SAHM, I run a small business from home. I think it would be very difficult to get back on the career ladder at my age, and I don't want to. But the crucial thing is that I have had a successful career.

Anyway,I just wanted to say that I profoundlydisagree with exotic on this never said that before). I think that the key is in how we educate girls. We have a society that still expects women to take up the bulk of domestic and family responsibilities, and to accommodate the needs of men. I see that, to my sadness in my smart, switched on daughter- for example, they had an all day rehearsal for a school show on Sunday. All the girls turned up on time- the boys straggled in anything up to an hour late. The girls were exasperated and cross, but it was obvious that they just sort of expected boys to be flaky. A trivial example, but these are high flying, ambitious girls who should be the leaders of the future. But they are still being socialised to be appeasers and emotion keepers.

Oh, and, with one or two exceptions (usually in the child care business) men are never required to say why they are good enough for a job based on their gender alone. Women are all the time.

exoticfruits Wed 27-Feb-13 08:56:28

Sorry the thread can quietly get buried- not the posters!

exoticfruits Wed 27-Feb-13 09:01:59

There are actually a lot of lurkers, Dazzler, people who won't post have emailed in the past when I have had a hard time. I'm surprised I haven't had a hard time here. I have had a successful career too, seeker- sometimes you just want to move off and on in a different direction. Anyway - will go as promised.

AbigailAdams Wed 27-Feb-13 10:03:55

Dazzler, you are being unfair on Flora who has been extremely patient on this thread. If that had been a comment in AIBU or anywhere else on the board it wouldn't have raised an eyebrow or be taken for the frustrated remark it was. But for some reason you seem to want to hold feminists to a higher standard of behaviour than everyone else? And hold Flora resonsible for how feminists are perceived?? Grossly unfair.

Feminists get just as frustrated as everyone else when they are banging their head against a brick wall (which is probably another reason why other people haven't piled in - been there, done that, got the t-shirt). The "oh you shouldn't be nasty to other women" really means you should suck up everything that we throw at you with good grace like the naice girl you should be.

AbigailAdams Wed 27-Feb-13 10:05:24

And Hecate's link maybe anecdotal but it is still based in fact. Lord Rennard anyone?

PromQueenWithin Wed 27-Feb-13 10:39:06

exotic it seems as though you braced yourself to expect people to condemn your choices? And then were very surprised when no one did this.

I, too, know many people (including myself and DH) who would prefer not to sacrifice time with their children in pursuit of reaching the pinnacle of their career.

So, the interesting question for me is why things are set up in such a way that only those who are willing and able to sacrifice everything else in their lives can have any power. Why does it have to be this way? Who's decided that this is the best way to live? sad

These assumptions about "how things are" do exclude more women than men from positions of power, but everyone would benefit form a more sensible arrangement, I think.

blueshoes Wed 27-Feb-13 11:49:56

Promqueen: "So, the interesting question for me is why things are set up in such a way that only those who are willing and able to sacrifice everything else in their lives can have any power. Why does it have to be this way? Who's decided that this is the best way to live?"

Society and the structures within it have become so complex. Running a family is nothing like running a country such as the UK or a corporation with 30,000 employees over 35 countries.

There are so many hours in a day. Even if the politicians and business leaders had people to assist them, there is still a core amount of hard facts, knowledge and skills they need to have to guide strategy, make informed decisions and to implement them. There is also a lot of people management, motivation, schmoozing, dealing with the press.

The role can be enormously engaging and I am sure lots get off on the power trip as well. But if it was so easy to rise to the top, well we cannot all be bosses.

UptoapointLordCopper Wed 27-Feb-13 12:10:36

To disagree with dazzler: I think the ILM study is only interesting and informative up to a point: the questions are to do with self-reporting, and in many studies it is found that women are socialised to think themselves less confident (WTF), no good at maths (WTF), better at empathising (WTF) and all the stereotype. When you ask questions like that you get the expected answers. The self-reported ambition of women lags behind that of men, as I could have told you without conducting any study, because I have live this life as a woman and have not been stupid or wilfully ignorant. The other study ask what one would do in different situations that has to do with ambition. I would say that reflects the reality better. And surprise surprise. No significant difference between men and women. How the career of women lags behind men's, well, that is a different question. Read the Delusions of Gender.

To disagree with exotic: one does not have to justify one's choices. This is not about your choice (or mine, which is similarly to do exactly what I want which happens not to be the path of power and glory). It is about the systematic exclusion of women to positions of power and/or high pay and/or great responsibility. And it is about examining working practice. Why should things be what they have been?

And I agree with PromQueen. smile

UptoapointLordCopper Wed 27-Feb-13 12:40:00

And to quote an older source:

"I deny that anyone knows, or can know, the nature of the two sexes, as long as they have only been seen in their present relation to one another. If men had ever been found in society without women, or women without men, or if there had been a society of men and women in which the women were not under the control of the men, something might have been positively known about the mental and moral differences which may be inherent in the nature of each. What is now called the nature of women is an eminently artificial thing — the result of forced repression in some directions, unnatural stimulation in others." (John Stuart Mill, on The subjection of women.)

Women less ambitious than men based on current evidence? Stuff and nonsense.

Dazzler159 Wed 27-Feb-13 12:41:16


Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to be 'holier than thou' but disrespect is disrespect and I would challenge anyone on any board for belittling another human being. I'd rather say nothing at all than to resort to telling someone they were being f'ing tedious. I really don't fancy it (because it would be really f'ing tedious wink) but I could copy/paste numerous instances (not related to Flora) of regulars who show unbelievably short shrift to rational people with opposing views. I grant it must be difficult constantly facing opposing views but to me, equality is respecting the views/lives of others, irrespective of how much their view differs from your own. It's exactly this type of response that has kept me at arms length. Many lurkers, like me, are fully supportive of feminism but whilst I will happily lurk in an attempt to learn, I dare not (till last night) attempt to discuss what I sometimes believe to be controversial because of the backlash.

I wasn't suggesting that you shouldn't be nasty to another woman. Not in the way you mentioned anyway as you've taken that in the most extreme way possible. I just meant that, to me, believing all women are equal i.e. to both men and women alike, means that you are no more 'entitled' to hold a higher view than another. My opinions aren't any more/less important than yours and neither are Flora's to Exoticfruit's. To demean shows a distinct belief that your view takes precedence over another, which is not an acceptance of equality (not in my view anyway).

Do I want to hold feminists to a higher standard of behaviour? I guess I do but for the same reason I'd expect a religious person to posess higher morals or a policeman to act in a more law abiding manner. I realise the feminist movement is a political one so I won't even try to compare my expectations of how politicians should behave smile. I genuinely believe in equality and I would be most dissapointed with myself if I chaired a meeting at work and didn't give a female colleague her fair time on the floor, shut her out, disregarded her views, belittled her contribution, respected her views or challenge anyone that attempted to do any of these things. To me it's a simple case of practising what you preach although I completely understand if you don't see it the same way.

But as per Exotic, I'll be making my way and will return to lurking. All the best {smile]

moonbells Wed 27-Feb-13 12:47:32

OK. <nails colours to mast and dons hard hat>
I'm a F/T working mum who chose to go back when her DS was less than a year old.

At the time, DH had no work, but because he was looking for it, going to interviews etc he couldn't commit to childcare. He is a contractor so is sometimes working, sometimes not. I'm permanent, so we can't afford for me to not work as it's our only guaranteed income (such as anything is "guaranteed" in this climate). We have no family help (all parents very elderly and hundreds of miles away). So not much of a choice really!

DS went to a nursery F/T. The current cost of this nursery is over a thousand a month. Even with the free hours and childcare vouchers after he was 3, we still paid out more than our mortgage every month.

We decided early on that we could only afford one child because of all this. He's now at school and logistics are even worse. Holiday childcare is a nightmare and schools close earlier than the nursery did, even with breakfast and teatime clubs. (How we deal with this problem while spending as many hours as possible with DS is another ongoing issue and irrelevant here unless I want to open yet another can of worms!)

So if this is a major logistical struggle for us, with me working at a well-paid job and DH sporadically (and often in other cities, so guess who has to do the school runs?), and only one child, how on earth are women expected to burn the midnight oil that political/judicial/business careers seems to demand?

Oh yes, no children. Or a nanny.

My SIL chose the former. She's an exec. in a global company. Half the time she's in China negotiating something or other. But totally incompatible with having children.

If economic recovery is going to happen, then someone is going to have to come up with a viable non-complex childcare option. Not just early years, or else they'll have the stupid situation of having working mums for first 5 years who then have to give up so they can do the school runs, as firms not surprisingly expect F/T workers to be there after 3pm. No wonder we don't have many board level women.

AbigailAdams Wed 27-Feb-13 13:04:31

But Flora didn't feel she held a higher view than exoticfruits. And nor was she belittling or demeaning her. Exoticfruits has just been repeating the same thing over and over again, which is tedious. And she has certainly had her fair time on the floor. I can't believe you think she hasn't. Her views haven't been disregarded they have just been disagreed with. Something we are allowed to do. Flora has spent a lot of time trying to engage with exoticfruits. The lack of engagement hasn't been from her side.

And you don't seem to have a reason for holding feminists to a higher standard other than you hold other groups to a higher standard confused Rightho. Feminism is about trying to rid ourselves of the patriarchy or equality or whatever your view on it. It isn't about being polite to all and sundry. An expectation that women should be polite and nice is very patriarchal. Being angry and frustrated, not really allowed. Put it this way on another forum if it was a man who had said that you wouldn't have thought he was responsible for how men were viewed. You might have said he was rude but not the rest.

AbigailAdams Wed 27-Feb-13 13:08:07

And apologies Flora for speaking about you in the third person.

UptoapointLordCopper Wed 27-Feb-13 13:18:03

Feminists are nice and fluffy in real life. We wait politely till our lords and masters have time for us to listen to our petty little grievances. While we wait we mop the floor and cook lovely dinners so that our lords and masters will be appeased and in the right mood to pay us undeserved attention. And after a hard day's work! How magnificent of them!

Sorry. Feeling a bit silly.

UptoapointLordCopper Wed 27-Feb-13 13:18:58

Sorry again. A bit too silly. I mean magnanimous, not magnificent. But no doubt that as well.

FloraFox Wed 27-Feb-13 16:22:10

No need to apologise, Abigail, I appreciate your input. smile

exotic and dazzler both your posts are full of value-laden statements about people (and particularly women) with children who want to pursue senior posts and exotic has singled out a few jobs (including one which a number of posters, including me, have already said we have) as being "deadly boring". That's fine, that's your view, no-one condemned you as you expected to be condemned. How does your continual repetition and justification of your choice advance the discussion when no-one else wants to argue with you about it?

dazzler it's hard for me to believe you're reading this thread and you think I think my view is more important than exotic's. If anything she (and you) are being very holier than thou about your choices to live by your "values", but your choices, whatever.

Statements about men getting ahead because they don't tell other men what to think, which goes beyond the personal choice into a statement on structural / political and say it's women's fault they can't get ahead, cos they're all bitches. Yeah, haven't heard that before. I have no respect for that statement. If you come out with that sort of shit on any board, you can expect to be called on it.

dazzler I have a very different view on equality from you. I actually don't get the leap from believing woman should be equal to men but currently are not treated so (i.e. a feminist) to needing to be all fluffy kittens with any old thing said by another woman. That's a depressingly retrograde statement to make and I make no apologies for not conforming with your view of how a feminist should behave.

exoticfruits Wed 27-Feb-13 16:36:12

I wasn't coming back but the Times today has an article-I can't link because you have to subscribe, but the relevant part is:-

*But men behaving badly isn’t the reason why so few women go into politics in Britain. In France, where Dominique Strauss-Kahn still prowls, four are vying to become mayor of Paris. Yet fewer than a quarter of all MPs in Westminster are women and only one in six Cabinet ministers.
This is because it is an increasingly unattractive job, particularly if you are a mother. The first generation who made it to the top — Barbara Castle, Margaret Thatcher — either didn’t have children or sidelined them for their careers. Carole Thatcher says she communicated with her mother through her secretaries.
Parliament has slowly changed to accommodate families but not as much as parenting has altered. Women now expect to spend more time with their children. They are not prepared to miss crucial child-rearing years staring at Pugin wallpaper unless they feel that what they are doing is worthwhile.
Increasingly, it feels like it isn’t. Being an MP has become less interesting with more scrutiny but less significance. Ministers are ground down by the daily cycle of petty news stories; backbenchers find their jobs time-consuming but often unfulfilling. While they are expected to act as social workers in their constituencies and keep their heads down in the Commons, decisions are made by small, powerful cliques. It’s no wonder that a sixth of the 2010 intake of Conservative MPs have divorced or separated since they were elected.
Ruth Kelly managed to juggle four children with her job as Education Secretary. The Tory MP Louise Mensch combined being on a select committee with having three children. Both are resilient women and both quit. Neither mentioned sexism, but instead talked of tiredness and the impossibility of making both roles work.
Even the ballsy health minister Anna Soubry says she would find it almost impossible with a young family. “There is too much pressure for MPs to live in their constituencies with little financial assistance any more to have their families near them. One friend would love to have her small child with her during the week but she would be condemned for moving out of her seat. We have to sort this out.”
Maria Hutchings, the Tory candidate in Eastleigh, had to move her family of six to a bungalow by the railway line to contest the seat. She is unpaid, and one of her children has special needs. She has had to sell her car and worries constantly about money while her husband commutes two hours to Essex each day to keep his job.
For most mothers, it wouldn’t be worth it, especially when they’re going to get pilloried by the voters. We should make it easier — and this is where Lord Rennard has let women down. In his determination to prevent boundary changes, he helped to scupper Tory plans to modernise the Commons by having fewer, better-paid MPs. It is for that piece of political opportunism as much as any alleged personal failings that women should blame Lord Rennard*

I can't see how things can change unless working practices are changed and childcare can be done differently. It is actually easier when the DCs are little, school makes it much more difficult because it is about education and not childcare.

Because of the age of my DCs I know a lot of young adults starting a career. It is the girls who are the switched on ones who know where they are going-and getting there. The problem comes when they want to have children-and see something of them.

I agree that we need to educate girls-I thought we didn't from my personal family experience-but it becomes obvious from reading MN, among other things, that we do.
However I think it sad that there is such a narrow tunnel of 'success'. A girl who is an A' student is not expected to have a career with the Early Years for example, even if it is her dream job. One who has a real vocation for nursing is told they need to aim higher.
There now seems to be a tremendous pressure for girls to succeed. If I was young today I would feel almost apologetic to say that I wanted to teach 5 year olds ,and beyond becoming a better teacher of 5 year olds , all my ambitions were outside paid employment.

I see that, to my sadness in my smart, switched on daughter- for example, they had an all day rehearsal for a school show on Sunday. All the girls turned up on time- the boys straggled in anything up to an hour late. The girls were exasperated and cross, but it was obvious that they just sort of expected boys to be flaky

While I agree that this is fairly typical not all boys are like that and they get deeply frustrated and can't do anything either. Even at University, where you would imagine everyone was motivated and wanted good results, my DSs have had tremendous worry as to who they would get in any group work-and heaved a sigh of relief when they have got a 'good' group. My nephew who was heavily into drama at school got driven to distraction by the example above-he couldn't change them either.

exotic it seems as though you braced yourself to expect people to condemn your choices?

I generally avoid feminist boards-they are not for the faint hearted-being called tedious is very mild! I thought that I was a feminist -but I seem to be the wrong kind. The worst was being told not to post at all. So yes-I was braced.

PromQueenWithin Thu 28-Feb-13 09:25:28

exotic before what I'm about to say makes you angry and confirms all your prejudices about "Feminists", I really am not trying to tell you what you ought to think or that you're a bad feminist or that you lack intelligence.

In my opinion, the point of feminism isn't to tell women how they should live, what they should want and what life choices they should make. It's a movement fighting for women to have equality with men.

That said, if you think very carefully about the 'choices' we feel strongly we'd like to make as women, can you not see how these are shaped by our culture? So, examples based on my own experiences: I gave up work to stay home for 8 years. I wanted to do this, and I don't regret it. But I can't identify how much of that wish was innate (i.e. it would have been there anyway, regardless of society's expectations of my gender) and how much was socialised.

Smaller example is the issue of shaving: I remove body hair, but I recognise that my wish to do this is because of a culture that thinks of female body hair as unpleasant. I can recognise this unfortunate fact as much as I like, but would still feel too uncomfortable to go swimming with underarm hair.

The fact that we can't disentangle the various causes of our desires doesn't mean that we should be denied our choices, whether we wish to become a Minister and not see our children very often (as male MPs often do, and no one really bats an eyelid) or to prioritise family life over career. But we shouldn't lose sight of the cultural forces that may have shaped these choices.

You're lucky exotic that your choices fit nicely with what our culture says you should choose. But it's those that want to make unconventional choices that we're really fighting for, isn't it? Their right to do this.

exoticfruits Thu 28-Feb-13 11:47:31

Of course it is! I think that people misunderstand me!
FloraFox has skewed my words that men don't judge each other and that is why they get on at work! It wasn't connected to getting on at work but they don't judge each other- if I was to say something about someone else's choices to DH or DSs they would look at me as if I had 2 heads and say 'why are you bothered?' It wouldn't be up for discussion. That isn't why they get on at work!
She is also upset because I called her career boring, I was talking in general terms so looked back to see what she did. I'm sure it is fascinating to many but it would be a strange world if we all thought the same.
I am very lucky that my choices fit with the traditional female role. I worked out when I was about 5yrs that I was jolly glad to be a girl.
I am all for people fighting for change, and definitely for the unconventional. I may sound conventional on here but I am really veering on the eccentric in RL!
Unfortunately high power careers don't go with DCs. Once they have the basic human rights of roof, food etc the one thing they want is the attention and time of a significant adult. If granny, or the nanny or daddy are providing it they are the ones with the close relationship. DCs are not interested in quality time- they want time.
We have a corporate lawyer in the family- she is now a parter in the firm- has earning beyond my wildest imaginings. She is now nearly 50yrs and no DCs . She works all hours- if she had them she could go days without seeing them. Her DH has an equally high powered job and the life style suits them they have quality time with fantastic holidays etc but they both choose that - a child doesn't choose.
I don't have the answer- you can't have it all. A man won't get the close father/child relationship either if he has no time to be more than a distant figure.
My only point is that everyone should be free to make their own choices- yes you can aim for the sky, but it is equally valid to have other things for your personal success that don't include power, status and money.
One of my DSs goes for money in a career and 2 are not bothered- they are not right or wrong.
I agree that if women want to aim for the top it is difficult because people assume they might get off the lift when they are single minded.
I am all for having equal choice and opportunities.

PromQueenWithin Thu 28-Feb-13 12:19:13

I've got a feeling that while we're conversing in English, really we're speaking completely different languages here.

You feel strongly that your personal experiences and those of other people you know reinforce your worldview and personal choices. I'm glad that you're happy with these smile

Most of the rest of us are indulging in a rather more detached form of social analysis about how society supports (or doesn't support) women's choices. And how the construct of "free choice" is a pretty loaded one.

FloraFox Thu 28-Feb-13 15:07:41

exotic to be clear, I am not at all upset that you think my job is boring, not even remotely. I raised it because it seemed to me you were trying to pick a fight and/or being somewhat hypocritical by making value statements about others' choices while demanding not to be judged.

As for skewing your words, you said: "Men probably get on better because they don't tell other men what they should think". I disagree with this on every level.

skrumle Thu 28-Feb-13 16:03:50

exoticfruits the OP didn't post about high flying international careers - she posted a link to a story about lack of representation from women in UK politics and "public life"...

appointments to public bodies tend to involve working 1-4 days/month. hardly the kind of pressure that would totally rule out someone with childcare responsibilities.

exoticfruits Thu 28-Feb-13 17:01:30

OP was about women being under represented in positions of power and influence and there being very few women at the top of anything. Where we are talking different languages is that I am not talking about working women juggling home and career, I am not even talking about women in very good careers such as lawyer, doctor etc. I am talking about the very small selection of people at the top if their chosen field.
Historically it has been men, children were viewed differently and wives of successful men were not stuck at home, they had servants, a social life, good works if they wanted them or lovers if they wanted them. Children had nannies and saw their parents at their parent's convenience. When old enough they went to boarding school. When adults they were supposed to marry in a way that was advantageous to the family, in way of money, power, connections.
Now even the men want a home life, men and women marry from free choice. They want to see their DCs grow up and they don't want boarding school. It is all more difficult. Children want contact with a primary carer who has time for them. It is very difficult to work the hours demanded to get you to the top ( usually at the very time your DCs are growing up) and see enough of your DC who isn't interested in 'quality' time- just time.
Most men and women settle for juggling and not getting to the top.
I am talking 'in general' and only about the tiny percentage at the top of any chosen field.
My relative only got to be a partner in a law firm (as a woman from a comprehensive) by working all hours as required and never having to sort out ill children or attend school parent's evenings etc. She is now on a more reasonable footing but past child bearing age. I don't think she wanted DCs but it isn't the sort of thing you can ask.

exoticfruits Thu 28-Feb-13 17:04:02

The appointment to public bodies where you work 1-4 days a month tends to be done by women who don't have to earn a living- their DH does it and they have good qualifications and time to spare.

exoticfruits Thu 28-Feb-13 17:06:51

I meant that men get on better with other men because they don't have this sort of argument - not that they get on better at work. I can't see how it would possibly help. confused

exoticfruits Thu 28-Feb-13 17:34:26

If a man is left with the children because his wife dies or goes off and leaves the children he has to either change his job, working pattern or get full time, live in, childcare. If David Cameron were to be a widower he couldn't be PM and give his DCs the emotional support they need. He would have to very one track minded to carry on in the job.

skrumle Thu 28-Feb-13 17:43:23

you clearly read a lot more in the OP's link than I did then. the guardian story was in the Women In Politics section and appeared to me to be about a discrepancy between britain and other countries in terms of improving the under-representation of women.

i also find this sentence: "The appointment to public bodies where you work 1-4 days a month tends to be done by women who don't have to earn a living- their DH does it and they have good qualifications and time to spare." pretty horrendous... the issue is that women are not doing these jobs, they are overwhelmingly done by men. the link from the OP actually contains this fact:
It provides a wealth of statistics on the extent of the continuing male monopoly on power. Two-thirds of public appointments go to men, 90% of chief constables and police and crime commissioners are male, and two-thirds of local councillors are male, yet men make up 49% of the population.

exoticfruits Thu 28-Feb-13 19:08:56

A chief constable isn't something you do 1-4 days a week. I could quite easily be a local councillor -I have the time and the intelligence -I don't want to be.
I voted for the one woman who was a candidate for the police and crime commissioner. She was labour, I was most impressed and she was the only one to send me any literature or invite me to a meeting. However I am in a strongly Conservative area-their candidate would have got in whatever the sex-quite honestly if they were a chimpanzee they would have got in!! The turn out was very low anyway.
I am doing a volunteer thing at the moment-opportunities come up quite often that I do nothing about. If I was wanting to advance up a ladder it would be fairly easy.
I copied and pasted two articles from the Times on specifically why women are not in politics.

PromQueenWithin Thu 28-Feb-13 19:19:35

But, why does Chief Constable have to be something one can't do 2/4 days per week? Why is 5 days out of 7 OK, but not some other equally random proportion of the week? Answer, because it's always been 5 days and no one's had a reason to question it. There's no actual, real, based in fact reason why 5 is OK but not 4 or less. Is there?

exoticfruits Thu 28-Feb-13 19:34:29

I am quite appalled by the way we treat girls these days-I am glad that I don't have one. We should have advanced and yet it has gone backwards. When I grew up the boy/girl thing was far more divided and yet there was freedom. Although I was a 'girly' girl we didn't have a sea of pink. I like my dolls, but when I look back I spent most of my time outside on my bike, on roller skates, climbing trees and just out. We played all over the village, my mother had no idea where I was-there were no mobile phones-we just had to turn up for meals. We were mixed groups.
I would hate to be a teenager now. I was not attractive to boys being far too shy, but it didn't matter then.
Now the pressure is enormous to be 'perfect' with good looks, popular with boys, trendy, well dressed and good grades.
I think it is even more pressure to tell them they must aim high.
At primary school I loved learning for its own sake, it hadn't occurred to me that it was to get a good career-it seemed so far ahead that I couldn't see myself being old enough. Now ask any 5 year old why they are at school and they will tell you to do well and get a good job!
Why not just relax, think of mistakes as a way of learning, take risks, if you fail try again. Success is a wide variety of things to different people. You can change careers, it is never too late. Both my brothers messed around doing nothing much for quite a few years-one was in his 30s before he sorted what he wanted to do and one was in his 40s. Boys seem to still have the freedom to do this.
With all these years of feminism it is sad that teenage girls still feel that they must be attractive to boys as a measure of success.
It appears to be women doing it-they want girls as first choice-and they don't want ones who are keen on playing rugby and covered in mud!

exoticfruits Thu 28-Feb-13 19:36:53

I have no idea really what a chief constable does but I would assume that it isn't a hobby-you need to be prepared to work and be available. If it only takes 2/4 days a week do we need one?

exoticfruits Thu 28-Feb-13 19:38:11

A lot of girls opt out with mental health problems-they can't take it.

PromQueenWithin Thu 28-Feb-13 19:42:18

If you have no idea what a CC does, why do you assume that you know it can't be done 2/4 days a week? You're conflating the way things have always been done with the way things have to be done.

exoticfruits Thu 28-Feb-13 19:48:32

In the first place I made a mistake-I should have written the 1-4 days a month which was what I was quoting. Maybe they can do it in 2-4 days a week-I don't really care -but I assume they would have to be on call.You couldn't have a big emergency and them say 'sorry I'm not available until next Tuesday!'

Dazzler159 Thu 28-Feb-13 22:11:35

Seeing as you were talking about CC's I thought I'd have a look. It's not a 2-4 day job as you're the main focal point and need to be visible. Given criminals don't have a short working week then I doubt long hours are down to 'convention'. See here:




I am sure many people, myself included, have already decided that the pay to sacrifice ratio is rubbish and just not worth it. I realise I'm going to sound rather bad here (why change a habit of a lifetime) but I wouldn't want that level of responsibility for only £130k pa. You would have to either love the job or specifically want a lot of power/responsibility as there are many jobs that pay similar for a lot less aggravation (I know because I have one). The PM earns similar money and there's no way I'd even consider that job for pittance.

I can adjust my lifestyle to make up the £5-10k deficit. Rarely can you adjust a top level job so you don't miss out on your kids growing up. I couldn't care less about £5-10k (plus all the other monsense) but care infinitely about my family.

Ultimately it's about choices and us men are not immune to sacrifices either. I could rise higher and strive for power but that would mean giving up my family for some faceless company. My marriage would suffer and my relationship with my kids. I'd have no time of hobbies, exercise or anything else. I see it all around me with my friends. You don't get anything for nothing, whether youre male or female, and my guess is that some women look at their career map and simply choose life.

PromQueenWithin Thu 28-Feb-13 22:25:00

Crikey. I'm normally quite patient, but I'm just talkin' to the hand here, aren't I.

FloraFox Thu 28-Feb-13 22:28:54

Since CCs don't work 24/7, a line has already been drawn around how much time they must work. In fact, I would guess that very few if any CCs work at night even though a lot of criminals do. Our working hours are set by convention. Why not work seven days a week or 16 hours a day? If a job requires more than 35 - 40 hours a week, that suggests to me that another person should be hired.

tootsietoo Thu 28-Feb-13 22:50:51

We need to start putting pressure on MEN to spend time with their children. Start criticising them when they don't work more flexibly when they have a family. It is so unfair that these discussions are ALWAYS about the mother.

Dazzler159 Thu 28-Feb-13 23:14:52

Our working hours are set to limit what used to be done historically and before the directive was introduced (working hours used to be much higher and not far off what you've mentioned).

Since industrialisation, people have always worked long hours either due to overtime/incentivisation or slave driver bosses looking to maximise output. The limit, currently 48 hours per week, attempts to reduce the amount of time that people put in but still does not prevent people from working more if they are particularly determined.

I wouldn't say there was a convention as hours vary between 35-48 and I have spent the last year working 4 days a week while other people often work 5 or 6. The last HR document I read stated this 48 hour limit is an average over a 3 month period so it's still possible to work well over 48 hours a week for long periods. I'm guessing that a CC in a big city will be expected to work silly hours thus making a 2-4 day week unfeasible.

FloraFox Fri 01-Mar-13 00:15:19

PromQueen I hear you!

exoticfruits Fri 01-Mar-13 08:29:06

Whatever hours a CC works they have to be on call. You can't have a position where they are needed and they say, 'I don't have child care - Wednesday is my day at home'.
I thought that I ought to find out what they did- it is a tremendous leadership role and doesn't look child friendly hours to me. They have to do a lot of community work which isn't conveniently 9-3. The are 6 female ones at the moment- not a lot I admit, but a start. The police hours are not child friendly to get there. I don't see how they can be.
I would agree that any job that requires more than 35- 40 hours a week suggest that they need more than one person- but that will never happen! Primary schools need more than one teacher per class for a start.
They could be a lot more flexible for everyone but when the yahoo boss has taken a backward step by wanting everyone physically in the office, you can't see much progress, and she is a woman.
You can't get around the fact that children need time, and getting to the top needs time too and there isn't enough.
If I had died DH would have had to change his job. He couldn't commute to London everyday at 2 hours each way. He would have had to have worked locally at reduced hours. He couldn't move grieving children to London, away from everything they knew and he couldn't afford London prices anyway. He couldn't afford a nanny from 6.30am to 7.15pm. If we both worked those hours I suppose we could have afforded the nanny, but we wouldn't have seen the DCs much.
I would say that the big progress is men seeing that success doesn't have to necessarily mean money and status. You can be very successful without either, depending on your definition of success. Of course we should change working practices that are set in the past - which would make it easier for all- but we shouldn't burden young people with the idea that they ought to aim for the top. It is just as valid to want to keep sheep in Wales, make pots, be a sailing instructor, gardener etc - with the ambition you want to be good at it. Maybe in mid life you might want a change and public office etc. Boys seem to have this freedom - they can be a nurse without the reaction girls get of 'why not aim higher'. The big message is 'choice' - whether male or female. And there is nothing wrong in choosing family first.

Dazzler159 Fri 01-Mar-13 08:59:02

I wasn't going to bite, given how unbelivably wide of the mark some of you were back there. It's been oft noted when someone makes a comment and it gets overly dissected and totally misrepresented.

For the record I have no idea how some of you made the monumentous leap but I don't expect any male/female to be fluffy. As per any real life scenario I expect people that are discussing things to apply a little civility, common courtesy and perhaps exercise some humility.

UptoapointLordCopper Fri 01-Mar-13 09:56:39

Exotic has chosen to be with her children. Florafox has chosen to work FT (is that right or am I thinking about someone else?). I have chosen to work PT with hours fitted around school (and no, I'm not a teacher). Can you imagine that women had these choices 60 years ago? What has been does not have to be. If we cannot see beyond that then PromQueen is right to despair. I'm off now. Bye.

PromQueenWithin Fri 01-Mar-13 11:08:44

"What has been does not have to be"


Have a 12:00 deadline, but will be back later...

PromQueenWithin Fri 01-Mar-13 11:14:54

Also, "I wasn't going to bite, given how unbelivably wide of the mark some of you were back there." "For the record I have no idea how some of you made the monumentous leap"

Dazzler are you the poster that took issue with someone calling someone else tedious? Because if you are, then I'm a darn sight more offended by the implication that I'm a foolish, woolly headed thinker and writer than an accusation of possible tedium by repetition. Patronising much? You're not <whispers> of a biological construction that tends to lend you social support in handing out your opinions with the assumption that they'll automatically be given due consideration? Because you aren't being terribly courteous or humble, now are you.

Anyway, 12:00 approaches grin

PromQueenWithin Fri 01-Mar-13 11:15:35

PS if you aren't that poster, then apologies (a bit)

PromQueenWithin Fri 01-Mar-13 12:04:33

...It was all perfectly under control and then Word decided to reformat everything so that every paragraph was too far to the left to see in normal view, ARGH! There was no time even for swearing, just frantic reformatting of every paragraph before submitting with literally a minute to spare.

Aaaaaaand now I'll stop talking to myself I think grin

Dazzler159 Fri 01-Mar-13 12:09:45


Yes I am that poster but sadly I genuinely don't understand the latter part of what you've just written (sorry confused).

But yes, the assumptions were very wide of the mark given they were not anywhere near what I was thinking when I posted. That's not me being patronising but pointing out that people had made a mistake.

If you want to take it as an implication of being a foolish, woolly headed thinker and writer then that's your choice but it works both ways. Sarcastic assertions were made about what I had said before, except I didn't take offence to it.

AbigailAdams Wed 27-Feb-13 13:04:31

An expectation that women should be polite and nice is very patriarchal. Being angry and frustrated, not really allowed.

UptoapointLordCopper Wed 27-Feb-13 13:18:03

Feminists are nice and fluffy in real life. We wait politely till our lords and masters have time for us to listen to our petty little grievances. While we wait we mop the floor and cook lovely dinners so that our lords and masters will be appeased and in the right mood to pay us undeserved attention. And after a hard day's work! How magnificent of them!

FloraFox Wed 27-Feb-13 16:22:10

...needing to be all fluffy kittens with any old thing said by another woman...

But I'm going to stop as I can see this going round in circles.

PromQueenWithin Fri 01-Mar-13 12:12:56

OK, let's aim for a linear trajectory then. What is the point you'd like to make about the woeful representation of women in positions of power in the UK?

Dazzler159 Fri 01-Mar-13 12:50:44

I posted my thoughts a few pages back (p6 IIRC) but will have a think and get back to you.

PromQueenWithin Fri 01-Mar-13 14:08:03

OK, so I've looked back. Your view is that most people don't want to make the necessary sacrifices elsewhere, primarily time with loved ones (or as you call it, the 'best job in the world'), to get to the top of their chosen career?

But, what I and others are trying to say is that just because society as it stands tells us that family must be sacrificed for power and representation doesn't mean that this is right, inevitable or has to continue.

As you're so very keen on personal experience and choice, I'll tell you that I'm on track to a position where I hope to have some power to make a positive difference in the world through my work. And I stop at 3pm every day.

exoticfruits Fri 01-Mar-13 15:12:32

The fact is that we need very few people at the top and a lot at the bottom.
e.g. A hospital needs a few managers, a few surgeons, a few consultants etc but they need a lot of nurses , they are vital- you can do the operations without them. We want good quality ones that are paid a reasonable salary, we want them to be in the job because it is what they really want to do, not because they can't do anything else. We want a lot of women as nurses, I can't see my elderly mother being happy bathed by man. We want experienced nurses who want to stay on the ward, not disappear into teaching, managerial jobs leaving just the inexperienced. We need hairdressers, car mechanics, etc. It is pointless sending everyone off for law degrees, they can't get jobs when they finish - there are too many of them. We don't want 50% at university.

Of course it is unfair that it is unequal - of course you would expect 50% at the top to be women. However very few are going to make it, even if male. It is sad that we have such a narrow view of success so that being a surgeon is a success and being a nurse isn't- when they need each other and we need both.

I am all for changing working practices but you have to understand that children change the life of a couple - if you only see them for quality time you miss out. I know many young women who discuss problems etc with the grandmother, and bypass the mother- because Granny was there when they were growing up and mother was not.
Normal career patterns are fine, most people juggle- you have to. Getting to the top is more than that- it takes dedication to the job.

It is quite understandable that many women prefer a balance.

I would say that women are their own worst enemies. They make themselves 'senior' parent from day1. Often, as a couple, they know nothing about babies and yet the mother becomes the 'expert' and either does it all or issues instructions. She won't just leave him to it, or go out between feeds and leave him alone. Needless to say they give up and let her get on with it and it become 'her' job. Later on him looking after his own children is 'babysitting'! I was able to go away for a week when mine were 1yrs and 2yrs- they waved me off at the airport- I didn't have to give any instructions DH was equal they were his DCs in his own home- he was used to looking after them.

As far as I can see women want girls because they are seen as more compliant and quieter and will grow up to be mother's best friend.

People complain about toys being for a gender and the whole pink, princess stuff- and yet it is mothers who buy it! Lego have doubled production of 'girls' Lego and can't keep up with demand. It wouldn't make business sense to stop. Obviously women are buying it in droves! I hadn't given it much thought until a friend's DD had a baby girl and then I went into a shop saying 'I have 3 boys, I want to get a really 'girly' present' - and yet when it came to it I couldn't bring myself to and got a lovely brown dog. I had never been exposed to it before and it as a shock!

We need to change working practices, women need to let the father be an equal parent, stop seeing girls as less trouble than boys.

We need to change our attitudes to success and have 'real' choice. Education should be for the excitement of learning- not always jumping through hoops for the end result. A career should be one to suit you, if you would love to be a librarian - then go for it - don't let someone tell you that you should want higher.
Boys seem to win out yet again because they have a free choice- they are not loaded with expectations of what they should do, or not to the same extent and they don't get the same sense of failure if they don't get there- or step off the treadmill.

I would say that the real worry is that our young people can jump through all the right hoops, go to top universities get a good degree and can't get a job in the field they want, never mind one with a future. Maybe with younger children you don't realise that our shops, bars, cafes etc are staffed by graduates who can't find anything else.

(I'm sure that everyone would love a job that makes a difference and stops at 3pm- I think teaching does that but it doesn't stop at 3pm)

PromQueenWithin Fri 01-Mar-13 15:39:23

That's a fair few statements of opinion presented as incontrovertible 'fact' there exotic.

kickassangel Fri 01-Mar-13 19:35:09

But WHY do you think that women don't want to make the sacrifices but men do?
What about the RL examples of women who DO want to make it but get shut out by men?

OK - There will be some women who want to stay home. There are men who do as well, but WHAT causes the gender bias? When men have to parent they do a very good job of it, yet for some reason some people think it's a 'naturally' female thing.

I would argue that there are a lot of societal pressures that need to be discussed, not just that 'women want to stay home'. That's just repeating the issue, not attempting to answer it.

exoticfruits Fri 01-Mar-13 21:12:29

I think that increasingly men don't-they work out there is more to life than paid employment-however it tends to be men who haven't a clue what to do if they don't work.
Men generally have a supporting woman, women often don't have a supporting man. How you change that I don't know if people are happy with it.

My newspaper extract said Ruth Kelly managed to juggle four children with her job as Education Secretary. The Tory MP Louise Mensch combined being on a select committee with having three children. Both are resilient women and both quit. Neither mentioned sexism, but instead talked of tiredness and the impossibility of making both roles work.
Even the ballsy health minister Anna Soubry says she would find it almost impossible with a young family

I don't even see that it helps if your DP stays at home-the nature of the job means that you don't see your children except for 'quality' time which is not something that children want. They only want one thing from parents-time.

Those without children don't take kindly to changing everything for parents in the workplace-they are quite vocal about it.

A lot of it is fact PromQueen. I can find lots of threads with women disappointed to have a boy, I can't say that I have seen any disappointed to have a girl.
You can't miss the boy and girl merchandise in shops.
I can find you lots of threads where the DH is an extra child and lots where women have never left their child with anyone other than family, and women who never have a night out.
I can assure you that new graduates can't find a job-fact.
A new branch of Costa coffee opened last week in Nottinghamshire with 8 jobs and had 1700 applications-many from graduates who can't find jobs.
If they do get a job in the right field it can often be the sort of job that you could get straight from grammar school after O'levels when I was young. This is far more worrying IMO.

Dazzler159 Fri 01-Mar-13 22:41:34

* PromQueenWithin Fri 01-Mar-13 14:08:03*

OK, so I've looked back. Your view is that most people don't want to make the necessary sacrifices elsewhere, primarily time with loved ones (or as you call it, the 'best job in the world'), to get to the top of their chosen career?

But, what I and others are trying to say is that just because society as it stands tells us that family must be sacrificed for power and representation doesn't mean that this is right, inevitable or has to continue.

As you're so very keen on personal experience and choice, I'll tell you that I'm on track to a position where I hope to have some power to make a positive difference in the world through my work. And I stop at 3pm every day.

I think you got the jist of what I was saying except I think 'some' as opposed to 'most' people. I have no idea what the percentage may be but from my social circle it is certainly a significant number. As I mentioned previously the shortfall in representation is likely to be due to many factors and I believe this to be one of them.

I appreciate what you're trying to say and it probably isn't right that power should come at the expense of family. I believe it is accepted that in hunter/gatherer times we worked about 2-3 days per week so can imagine it was easily possible to juggle many moons ago. However, evolution and industrialisation has led to ever more complex societies and longer working hours. These economic changes have occurred over centuries so winding it back to say, 30 hours per week is probably going to take longer than our lifetimes to achieve (without some economic meltdown). Either way, we are all born into this world and are simply making value choices given what we are presented with. Sadly the current status quo still requires ridiculous hours on the way to the top.

It sounds like you are fortunate so good for you and all the best with it, although I can imagine you are the exception (as opposed to the norm).

For the rest of us we have to make a choice between chasing the dream and spending time with your kids. As Exoticfruits says, kids don’t want ‘quality time’ but ‘your time’ and nannies, carers etc. are no substitute for time with mum/dad. Of course it goes without saying that men should support their wives more but this is changing with more SAHD’s (albeit slowly). In other cases I’ve known successful female bread winners that objected to their husbands wanting to be a SAHD as they wanted the added income and for nan/granddad to perform the childcare. This was mainly due to the view that men are useless and cannot be trusted. It’s a poor stereotype but one that a lot of women love to joke about.

There are many issues as this is a hugely complex problem. The workplace needs to improve, parents need to raise their kids to be free thinkers, women need to be more discerning with their partner choices and men need to be more supportive of their partners.

Of course there are deeper rooted issues but these have been ingrained over thousands of years so aren't going to be broken down in a hurry.

FloraFox Fri 01-Mar-13 23:48:39

Dazzler I believe we have seen greater societal changes in our lifetimes than would have been conceivable when our parents or grandparents were children. You've referred to every conceivable reason for "how things are" other than sexism / patriarchy. Do you think this is a factor? What is the feminist aspect of your points?

Also, economic meltdown? I think we could do a lot better economically than we are now if fewer people were doing the work of two people.

exoticfruits Sat 02-Mar-13 08:04:14

Parents do need to raise their DCs to be free thinkers.

I agree with you FloraFox that we ought to have more people working and that far too many have an unrealistic workload. But once you get people working like that you are not going to get employers going back.
My father had a very responsible, graduate level job and yet when I was a child he went home for lunch everyday and he was home by 5.30 every night!! He occasionally had evening meeting but he had his evening meal with us before setting out. The same job today would mean that he would be lucky to grab a sandwich and he certainly wouldn't be home on the dot each day. I wonder if it was more productive?
A friend who worked in the sort of culture where you were in the office early and didn't like to be seen to be the first to leave did a few weeks work in the Isle of Man and found that if people arrived early they sat in their car and read the newspaper, they left on time.
When I started teaching you didn't have TAs, there were no computers, everything was written by hand, I had to write my own work cards etc and yet I had time to go out in the evening and most of the weekends and holidays were mine. My ex pupils from that time seem to be doing very well.
When I was at school ( being quite old) I distinctly remember being told that new technology meant that everyone would have more leisure time and the difficulty would be finding time to fill it. How wrong can you be?!!
Technology has meant far fewer jobs but the people in them are working far, far harder and longer. The rest can't get jobs at all, or only ones far below their capabilities. If we could only employ more people then the young would stand a chance. There are so many young graduates who can't get work- and they are so keen- generally they are grateful to get an unpaid internship, they are so desperate to get a foot in the door. In a few months thousands more will be joining them. At the same time older people have to stay in their jobs longer- they can't afford to retire.
While I agree with PromQueen's point that jobs don't need the hours and why are you working 5days out of 7 every week if it could be changed- the fact is that it won't be changed any more than every primary school will take on at least 2 more teachers, each hospital will double the number of nurses etc.

The one fact is that DCs need time and working practices don't give it. Most people juggle, but most people don't have jobs of power and influence. If you are in the job where the buck always stops with you, there is no one to pass it on to, the hours are long and not child friendly. It is even worse working your way up, you not only have to be dedicated but you have to be seen to be dedicated. I don't see how you get change when there will always be people who can manage it. Good child care is necessary, but even with that you do need to see your child in the morning and most definitely before they go to bed. You need to know their friends, what the teacher said, how best friend upset them- just what is happening in their life. If you go days without seeing them you miss this close relationship - they bond with someone who has the time- they are not going to save it up to discuss in 'quality' time next Tuesday - they will have forgotten because it has all moved on. They don't go in a cupboard and come out when it suits you! Children are inconvenient and life changing.
Maybe working hours will change- but it will be slow and very gradual- like getting women into top jobs- it won't be sudden.

Dazzler159 Sat 02-Mar-13 12:30:29


You are probably right about the changes within our lifetime. I would expect to see parity in salaries within the next 5 years but this will likely come before real equality is reached in the workplace (in terms of a 50% split). Even then sexism will sadly still be rife IMHO.

Of course sexism is a factor though, I'd assumed we had already established it was a given.

I'm not trying to be a defeatist but society as we know it is a crazy mix of male values + (small part) female that has evolved since the dawn of time and probably before humans developed the ability to philosophise (and apply moral judgement over our actions). Rightly or wrongly sexism has been perpetuated through history but it is changing. However, I would suspect that whilst equal representation will come, a change of attitudes i.e. where all men 'truly' accept women as equals will take longer. But this has to be met with women that actually believe themselves to be equal, which from my experience is something some women don't.

The only way I can see us working drastically less for the same money is if we all start paying more for goods/services etc. Most things are driven by sales, profit and hourly rates. We would have to see a fundamental change before we could all start working 30 hours a week and still be able to have adequate means to provide for ourselves. In order for someone to live on minimum wage, for instance, it would have to double to £12/hour or for everything to halve in cost, which is at odds with what would be necessary to pay two people instead of one.

Springdiva Sat 02-Mar-13 12:48:46

The devotion to child rearing is a relatively new thing because the lack of reliable contraception in the recent past meant that babies weren't always a blessing, quite the opposite alot of the time.

And, imo, many DCs didn't get the fuss made of them that DCs do these days. Are we happier than in the past, not sure.

So stating that DCs want your time over anyone else's is not true imv. A good nanny could surely do as good as job, or maybe better if the parent wishes they were in their interesting job rather than baby minding.

Are we producing more rounded, confident, happier people than in the past through all this child rearing advice? debatable imo.

exoticfruits Sat 02-Mar-13 14:23:39

Of course you don't need to be there all the time, there is nothing wrong with a good nanny, but you do need to be a daily presence in the child's life. The DC wants someone's time and attention and that is the person they love and develop the relationship with-not the person who is too busy with other things and can only take you up in the odd moments it happens to suit.
You can't develop a proper relationship with a child unless you have the time to talk on a daily basis.

Springdiva Sat 02-Mar-13 17:07:42

Well, many wealthy people choose to pack DCs off to boarding school - in the belief that they will come out better because of it, I think, so those parents must not agree with your veiw that a daily presence is required.

exoticfruits Sat 02-Mar-13 19:40:15

I wouldn't send mine to boarding school- although there are situations where it might be necessary, but I wouldn't do it before 11yrs. Do they take them under 8yrs these days? They certainly don't send the under 5s. By the time they go they have made a relationship which they can sustain by phone, weekends and the long holidays. By that age friends are very important and they can cope with the gaps between 'quality' time. It used to be very emotionally damaging when the very young DCs went.

Dazzler159 Mon 04-Mar-13 12:01:20

Springdiva Sat 02-Mar-13 12:48:46

The devotion to child rearing is a relatively new thing because the lack of reliable contraception in the recent past meant that babies weren't always a blessing, quite the opposite alot of the time.

And, imo, many DCs didn't get the fuss made of them that DCs do these days. Are we happier than in the past, not sure.

So stating that DCs want your time over anyone else's is not true imv. A good nanny could surely do as good as job, or maybe better if the parent wishes they were in their interesting job rather than baby minding.

Are we producing more rounded, confident, happier people than in the past through all this child rearing advice? debatable imo.

Really? Are you suggesting that (with the possible exception of the 60's) the bulk of the population didn't get married and plan their families?

It's possible that children get more fussed over nowadays but I think you're missing something very valuable. Admittedly there has been research to suggest that children with 2 working parents don't suffer any ill effects. However, whilst development on a purely academic POV may not suffer I believe you're missing the relationship aspects and the essential input that a parent has on their children.

All things being equal, spending more time with someone will invariably result in stronger bonds and this is hard to argue against. You might dissagree but how close can you expect to be with someone if you only spend 2 hours a day with them compared to 8 or 10? Is human bonding theory fatally flawed or is investing time in people fundamental to building strong relationships? I believe it is. Devotion to child rearing may be a new thing but we've also moved away from the idea that children should be seen and not heard. Fortunately we are more interested in what children think nowadays and empower them to make their own decisions/choices.

I purposely don't work long hours but if I did and my wife said she wanted to spend more time with me then I would do something about it. Why should it be any different with children? Like anyone else that has an emotional connection, it is normal to want to spend time with you and if anything children are more sensitive to this.

Feminists often talk about how gender is a social construct and how society conditions us into perpetuating the status quo. I don't know about anyone else but to me the revolution starts at home. Society isn't something external to us. We are society and one of the ways of changing it is to develop the population of the future with the right values/morals and ability to question convention. I don't see how this can be done effectively if you pass the responsibility to a nursery for 8 hours a day. A nursery isn't going to care whether your child plays with blue/pink toys, reads books that perpetuate the wrong messages or discourages free thinking. The only way to influence these things in a meaningful way is to do it yourself.

Wealthy people may well send their kids to boarding school but IMHO this is even worse as you're effectively placing the responsibility on everyone else to shape your child's character.

DrRanj Mon 04-Mar-13 12:37:37

Just skimmed through and realised that dazzler is not a sahd, why not? So would the mother of your children have the choice to work full time? I'm guessing not. Sorry, how is this fair? Sorry I'm guessing many have already pointed this out but I am astounded as to how you can have such string views about childcare but yet not be at home yourself. All your quoting other posters and "eloquent" semantics doesn't get round the blatant hypocrisy of that.

DrRanj Mon 04-Mar-13 12:39:52

And if you want a cookie medal for simply moderating your hours to suit family life, well, ALL women already do that, even the ones that work full time.

Schooldidi Mon 04-Mar-13 12:41:12

Dazzler I don't think many people ahd a chance to plan their families before reliable contraception became available. Certainly the majority got married before they had their first child, but not all (my great aunt was cut off by the rest of the family for years because she had a child out of weldock, funnily enough the father of that child had no negative effects). I really don't think many people would plan the number of children they had, especially when the next baby would push them over the edge of being able to feed the whole family. I know my great grandparents had very little in the way of planning involved as they had 8 or 9 children, their children were seen as the unavoidable consequence of having marital relations.

Of course "we are society" and we can change our own immediate society most easily but that shouldn't mean we don't challenge wider society. My own children are wonderful and are growing up with the right morals/values, despite not having a parent at home with them.

We want more representation for women in positions of power, so at least some women need to be able to fight within a wider society and be seen to be succeeding. The attitude that women don't really want those positions, or that women will find it more difficult because they ahve to worry about childcare, etc needs to be challenged. There are women out there who do want to do those jobs but are not being selected as political candidates, or are not successful in interviews for promotion, purely based on their gender and the assumptions that are made about women rather than men. That is what needs to change.

Dazzler159 Mon 04-Mar-13 13:18:02

Woah, steady on there DrRanj. As you've only 'skimmed' then I suggest you read all my posts before jumping wildly in and doing yourself a disservice.

It really does amaze me how so many take issue with something when they really do stand from a position of poor foundation and then assume things that hold no water. But never mind, you carry on.


If that's the case then it's no wonder the world has ended up in a mess. If sexual gratification between two consenting adults took greater precedence over unplanned childbirth then what are we to expect from society?

But who is influencing the morals of your children? I'm not knocking your choices or criticising you personally but it really does seem quite simple to me. Unless childcare is well vetted and you know the values these people are imparting on your kids then how do you know what characteristics your kids are forming? If a boy is not conditioned to see women as equals then how is society going to change? My guess is that 99% of nurseries are not feminist in any way, given feminism is a minority thing.

You're talking about what's happening today but the boy being taught (potentially incorrect) values by nursery staff is going to be the adult of tomorrow. If you think the short time a working parent spends with their child is enough to influence them, then what about the majority time that is spent in a nursery? There is already a thread on this board where a child has picked up misogynistic tendencies and it was attributed to the time spent at a nursery. If you are not there to correct (and the staff do not do this either) then we have lost control over the development of our children.

I'm all for challenging things today but this is simply an elastoplast for what went wrong yesterday. If it is agreed that social conditioning is part of the problem for the current status quo then part of the solution is to alter the social conditioning of our kids.

BTW I'm not advocating that women stay at home. I'm advocating that at least one parent stay at home, whether that's a man or woman.

Schooldidi Mon 04-Mar-13 13:37:43

It wasn't always two consenting adults that took precedence over unplanned childbirth, don't forget how recently rape was legal as long as you were married to your victim. Of course some couples planned their children as much as they were able to without access to reliable contraception (do you know how reliable the rhythm method or withdrawal are, not very), but I would suspect that a significant number of children weren't planned or recieved very happily.

Who is influencing the morals of my children? That would be me, my dp, their grandparents, the fantastic cm that we looked for carefully, then pre-school, school, friends, tv, internet, wider society in general. The only way parents can have sole influence on their children's morals and values is if they choose to home ed and isolate their children from wider society, not many people choose to do that.

Why do you assume nurseries aren't feminist? Quite possibly the nursery workers won't identify themselves as feminists but I would hope that they would defend a child's right to play with any of the toys available, and they will ensure that the children are treated as equally as they can be taking into account their different personalities.

We need to challenge things today in order to change things for tomorrow. We wouldn't have made the progress we have made in recent decades if people hadn't challenged expectations of wider society. It's all very well saying that we need to change the social conditioning of our children but we actually need to change the social conditioning of all children, not just our own. It does my dd no good to have the expectation of equal treatment if the rest of society has the expectation that she will not want or be able to do the job she wants to do. If I raise my dd to believe that she can indeed be an MP, the PM, or the CEO of a major company that's great but it doesn't help her actually achieve that unless wider society also believes that she can do those things. Currently that wider society doesn't believe women can do those things as well as men, for various reasons, so I believe it's my job as a mother to challenge the expectations of today in order to make society a more equal place for my dd and others of her generation.

Dazzler159 Mon 04-Mar-13 14:13:13


But that's my point. Of course we cannot have sole influence on our children but we can have the majority. The sad thing about work is that we spend more time with our colleagues than we do with our families. The easiest way to see this in a meaningful way is to break it down into hours. Start with 7 x 24 hours and then break it down into sleep, work, commuting and all the other things you do in a day. Then look at the 'real' amount of time we spend with our children. It's quite startling to see just how much time we don't spend with our kids and how much influence is exerted by external means.

I'm not saying all this to make you feel bad (so no offence meant at all) but is something I did many moons ago as part of a course. It was to hit home just how important time was to the people I care about.

I'm with you on the challenging of things today (so no debate there) although I think we differ on what is expected of women. As bad as it is at the moment I don't think it is so bad that women can't get on. It just depends on how much you want it. We could do with more but fortunately we have a fair amount of high profile, female role models in all walks of life. Many successful businesswomen are in the public eye and Margaret Thatcher was proof that it is possible for a woman to become an MP. It's not enough but is a start and an improvement to when I was the same age as my kids.

Schooldidi Mon 04-Mar-13 14:34:11

I don't feel bad in the slightest. I fully believe that dp and I are the main influence over my children, even though we both work full time. I know that time is important to them and I do my best to provide that time, but honestly I do not believe that me being out at work is damaging them in any way. Our cm has a great deal of influence over dd2's behaviour, but that's why we chose her carefully and I assume that the majority of working parents do the same.

I agree that our expectations of women are very different. I do think it is bad that women can't get on. Why should women have to want it more than men to get to the same place? Yes we have female MPs but nowhere near as many as men, that was in the article int the OP. Yes there are successful busineswomen, but nowhere near as many as men. It's better than it was but that doesn't mean we should be satisfied with that, it's still not equal and we need to challenge the assumption that because it's better than it used to be then that's ok. Your example of Margaret Thatcher is great (not that I agree with all of her policies, but the fact she was a female Prime Minister), but she is the only female Prime Minister the country has ever had and we don't seem likely to have another one soon, women are woefully underrepresented in parliament. We, as a society, need to figure out how we can get more representation for women in public positions.

exoticfruits Mon 04-Mar-13 17:32:34

Margaret Thatcher sacrificed a relationship with her DCs for her job- not many women would want to do that.

FloraFox Mon 04-Mar-13 17:38:49

Dazzler I'm still struggling to see your feminist perspective on what you've posted. When I asked you about this earlier, you said you assumed it was a given that sexism was a factor but I can't figure out what you mean by that given your other posts. Now you're saying things are not so bad that women can't get on and we have a "fair amount" of high profile, female role models in all walks of life. Really? Do you consider yourself to be a feminist?

Earlier you said you expect to say pay parity in five years from now - how will that come about?

I must say I find your overall position quite muddled.

Dazzler159 Mon 04-Mar-13 21:51:06


I don't know if I'm a feminist. I understand what feminists describe as the patriarchy and the concepts of male privilege. I don't necessarily agree with 100% of it but IMHO that's not as important as actually treating people as equals and challenging what I perceive to be wrong with society. But I digress.

The op posted a link to an article about female representation (or lack thereof) and this thread has questioned the possible reasons. When I say that sexism is a given it is because it is most definitely a contributor to the shortfall. How much is unknown given we only have stats. Since joining in the discussion I have given my possible reasons which counter the argument that the shortfall is 100% due to sexism. Again I believe there are a number of factors as this is a hugely complex issue.

I'm not saying we don't have a problem but it is true to say that we have a fair number of high profile female successes that should help to inspire women. Sure there are still not enough but this is a more positive scenario than 50 years ago.


When I say things aren't so bad I mean relatively.

With regard to the pay gap this is based upon ONS statistics over the past two surveys (2007 and 2012) and assuming a similar trend over the next 5 years. Sadly the Fawcett Society paint quite a bleak picture but this is because they used ONS data for their 2007 manifesto and not for their recent press release (where they conducted an independent survey). I don't know why they chose to do this but it led to them claiming that the gap was worsening when the ONS found it to the contrary. Whatever is being implemented is obviously working and I have read no convincing reason why the trend will not continue, which is a good thing.

FloraFox Mon 04-Mar-13 22:48:50

Did you read the link from the OP? You've come on this thread to tell us that things aren't so bad though as it's better than 50 years ago. Ok.

As far as the "hugely complex" issue is concerned, if I distill your posts, it seems to be a combination of nature, evolution, history and women not wanting it enough.

You don't know what measures are being implemented to improve the pay gap but you feel it will be resolved in five years based on trends. I guess in that case women will be earning more than men in another five years.

I think I get you now.

Dazzler159 Tue 05-Mar-13 09:55:11


Maybe I'm reading too much into your post but it seems like, true to form, someone (me in this instance) is getting the, "oh, you've come on this thread to tell us.......". I've not come here to tell you anything. I've come here to post my opinion. Do you understand that there is a difference between the two? You're making it sound like it's a cheek for me to even have an opinion, let alone one that may conflict with your system of beliefs. Maybe it's eluded you but:

Forum (noun): A meeting or medium where ideas and views on a particular issue can be exchanged.

You're roughly right about my posts except that you've simply distilled it to highlight your own skewed preconceptions. You really need to throw a healthy dose of sexism in there too. Then you've pretty much got it, oh and also women feeling they cannot fit everything in because they chose to marry and have kids with a sexist fool. The responsibility for this needs to be shouldered by both parties.

Yes I read the link and the related article and it mainly alleges that women are being queezed out. Where is the evidence for this? The article states that there were many more women MP's when labour were in power but not so many now the Conservatives are in. Maybe it's because women don't like the tories? Of course I'm being facetious but to paint this phenomena with such a broad brush is foolhardy. To be so selective as to only look at FTSE100 companies is foolhardy. Why? Amongst a multitude of reasons it could be because:

a) it neglects the diversity and myriad of successful companies out there, some of which have been incorporated by women, who may not prejudice female employees in the same way.

b) it neglects the senior female managers who have a good level of control over how their female team members are treated, supported and trained to succeed.

c) companies who actively look to meet quotas and treat women fairly but do not have a pool of potential females to choose from.

Anyone who wants to attribute 100% of the shortfall to one reason is a fool. Sexism/oppression may well account for a high proportion but will not be the sole reason. It cannot be. Exoticfruits and I have given examples of this and there are articles like this that prove it. It's just that some are holding their hands over their ears (like children) and refusing to listen.


You may not like it but you cannot deny that some women just don't want it. Have you asked yourself why you don't want to be the next female PM, CEO, head teacher etc. etc. if you're not at the top already?

I know of some measures like laws to prohibit gender discrimination and equal pay policies. You assume again but I have colleagues/friends that work in HR and employment law. These measures are something that many companies have been implementing for years (obviously). Naturally I don't know of all the measures (I doubt any of us do) but given none of us are experts then all we can go on is statistical data. I've already said that I don't like statistics but at least the ONS provide some background information with theirs. And there's no need to wait a further 5 years because the ONS has already found that women have exceeded men when it comes to part time employment.

Anyway, if you have the time then do some research and you'll find the current gap to be less than 10% and falling. Of course the Fawcett Society chose not to use ONS data for their last press release as it's too positive for the spin they want to apply. I hate inconsistency (being an analyst) and they have given no rationale as to why they opted for an independent survey last year but felt that the ONS was perfectly valid for their 2008 manifesto. Maybe it's because the ONS found the gap almost halved in 5 years it just looked too good for their campaign? I have no idea but anyone with any hint of balance/impartiality would be sceptical of a survey that cherry picked a selection of companies to paint a picture. The same could be said of the ONS but at least they use HMRC pay figures from a cross section of the UK's employees.

But ultimately I guess we need to agree to dissagree as I don't want to be tedious for sticking to my belief that the situation is complex and down to many, as opposed to one reason.

skrumle Tue 05-Mar-13 11:59:27

I don't want to be tedious for sticking to my belief that the situation is complex and down to many, as opposed to one reason

it is indeed a complex situation - i don't think anyone would view it as tedious if you wanted to discuss the many related issues from a feminist perspective in the feminism section...

Dazzler159 Tue 05-Mar-13 12:38:48

"from a feminist perspective" hmm

FloraFox Tue 05-Mar-13 18:15:59


- "true to form" - hmm

- "It's just that some are holding their hands over their ears (like children) and refusing to listen." - hmm

And yes, this is Feminism / womens rights chat so it's not too much to expect a discussion from a feminist perspective. It's not AIBU, Chat or In the News.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now