Advanced search

Is this another way women are inadvertently disadvantaging themselves at work?

(113 Posts)
LooseMooseHoose Sat 16-Jan-21 10:35:45

I keep reading on various threads on MN that an OP's partner cannot possibly help out because they are more senior at work, are paid more and therefore their job is more important and the family must do anything (ie OP pick up all the slack) to avoid him potentially loosing his job. But is this just yet another way women are being conditioned to continue as primary carer and housekeeper?

Sheryl Sandberg's quote of "don't leave before you leave" really resonates with me, part of the idea being that as you move further up the career ladder, you have more flexibility. People will reschedule meetings for the most senior invitee, they will accept a senior person starting an hour later because of unforseen circumstances. Or indeed accept a short-term dip in performance and availability due to a global pandemic affecting childcare..!

But both the previous paragraphs cannot be true. I accept some men (and women!) will have jobs where this simply does not apply. But I can't help thinking that the average manager-bloke in the office, has much more flexibility than either they believe, or allow their wives to believe?

OP’s posts: |
ShirleyPhallus Sat 16-Jan-21 10:38:22

But I can't help thinking that the average manager-bloke in the office, has much more flexibility than either they believe, or allow their wives to believe?

There was a massive thread about this recently and the crux was that yes, men likely could be more flexible. I’ll see if I can find it

SomewhatBored Sat 16-Jan-21 10:39:03

While woman choose to enjoy the lifestyle offered by a husband's higher salary rather than focusing on building their own careers, nothing will ever change.

OnlyToWin Sat 16-Jan-21 10:39:05

Please can you explain the “don’t leave before you leave” quote. I have not heard that before and would be interested in how it is interpreted. Thanks

SomewhatBored Sat 16-Jan-21 10:39:17

Women, not woman.

WingBingo Sat 16-Jan-21 10:41:58

Probably, however I am a senior manager and DH picks up most of the slack during the week.

Although he is currently enjoying a lie in and breakfast in bed after I got up with the 2 DC this morning.

There is a lot of pressure on me at work and to have it lifted at home enables me to focus on work during the week.

DH is the sahp so not so usual but the same scenario occurs, albeit the other way round.

Doffodils Sat 16-Jan-21 10:42:26

Yes, it is odd. I manage a lot of women in lowish paid (but well above min wage) jobs and they absolutely prioritise their DH's job before their own. I think we're a very supportive employer and especially during Covid have given a lot of slack for childcare difficulties, but it would be appreciated if they were shared with the father.

In a previous life, I had a senior role in a "man's world" and I know for a fact that in these kinds of jobs, where you manage your own diary, it's easy to be available for sports day etc, if you want to be and yet the men I worked with would mostly leave this to their wives, with the woman's employer being inconvieinced everytime.

I have taken to reminding my staff that their children have two parents and that it's because they don't share responsibilities that women tend to be less well paid. It gets a mixed response grin

Bluntness100 Sat 16-Jan-21 10:43:45


While woman choose to enjoy the lifestyle offered by a husband's higher salary rather than focusing on building their own careers, nothing will ever change.


LooseMooseHoose Sat 16-Jan-21 10:46:22

@OnlyToWin it's something she talks about in her Lean In book (which I haven't read) and also her Ted Talk. The YouTube link below is a short clip from her Ted Talk about it.

OP’s posts: |
OnlyToWin Sat 16-Jan-21 10:46:53

@LooseMooseHoose thank you 😊

LooseMooseHoose Sat 16-Jan-21 10:51:41

@WingBingo I appreciate what you are saying, but you are also kind of making my point. And it works for your household because your DH is a SAHD. And I would expect a SAHM to also be taking on the bulk of the child/home care, including home school. But what if your DH went back to work full-time? Would you still expect your more senior job to take priority all of the time?

I also understand the pressure when you are senior at work, both from the individual and the workplace. I don't think all men actually appreciate the flexibility they could actually have, they are also conditioned by society to put work first. (Slightly off topic, but it's one of the reasons I think men should take more parental leave)

OP’s posts: |
LooseMooseHoose Sat 16-Jan-21 10:53:11

@Doffodils Hopefully you'll make a few women think about whether it's a life balance they actually want!

OP’s posts: |
LooseMooseHoose Sat 16-Jan-21 10:54:17

Thanks @ShirleyPhallus and sorry if this thread is covering old ground!

OP’s posts: |
1lov3comps Sat 16-Jan-21 10:54:44

A previous boss of mine was married with 3 children, his wife had a good job but as far as I can work out, he was the higher earner. Whilst I don't know what went on behind closed doors, he seemed to handle very little childcare responsibility, worked late a lot, never had any late starts/early finishes.
Couple of years on and they divorced and the change was very noticeable. He was leaving work bang on time a couple of times a week, would leave early for PT meetings, wfh the odd day and mention that one of the kids was sick etc.
Very much appeared to be a situation of him simply never having to take on any responsibility because they/he/she defaulted to her being the primary caregiver even though she had a FT job.

Ritasueandbobtoo9 Sat 16-Jan-21 10:55:27

My DH earns 2-5 times more than me per year (own business & flexible) he does school runs so I can work as I work in healthcare. I see loads of men when I do the occasional pick up from school - most of the mums do similar jobs to me - most of the dads are working (turn up in work clothes) but have some flexibility. Depends on area, professions, jobs and possibly age of people. 20 Years ago he wouldn’t have been able to do this as worked for a company with a long working hours, do not leave early culture.

confuseddotcom090 Sat 16-Jan-21 11:02:27

I think I can shed some light.

I have been a SAHM and part time worker. But in the past 5 years my career has taken off, and overtaken my husband.

I used to be the default parent, and would be the one to WFH when the children were off sick, managed the childcare, and he undoubtedly benefited from my flexibility.

5 years ago I took another role that meant I was away from home 5 nights a week. I left him to do all the default parenting. And I could have picked up more slack but I didn't because it's bloody difficult and I felt like it was his turn. And so yes, I do think men can be more flexible a lot of the time but when you are earning more you kind of use it as an excuse not to.

Things are more even currently as I am WFH during the pandemic and he is away. And before the latest lockdown he would use the excuse I was at home to sweet FA or stay in London and go out socialising. But things will likely change again at some point, so I am not too bothered.

RJnomore1 Sat 16-Jan-21 11:03:57

I think there’s a sweet spot in seniority where you can handle your diary and be flexible and then there’s even more senior posts where it gets hard to do again for things like illness (possibly less so with planned events) because you need to be at certain meetings to get things done. This is based on my own observations in local government.

However there can’t be that many posts at that level to equate with the number of women doing all the running around

Crakeandoryx Sat 16-Jan-21 11:15:43

It's easier for me to just do it! DH is exec lever, ASD and cannot multi task well. He a fab employe and great dad, but he can't do both together.

I am lower wage, have had to learn to adapt and I'm far more patient. If any job should be at risk it should be mine for the sake of the whole family.

DH takes over at weekends. Baths and puts the DC to bed if he's home in time. He does the laundry, changes beds and cleans out the animals and can cook or gets takeout for everyone usually at weekends.

Lockdown has actually levelled up our work load. He's been at home working more so the commute has gone and once his day his over he focuses on home life.

RedskyBynight Sat 16-Jan-21 11:23:31

I find it interesting that so many women are married to men who are much higher earners and do wonder if this is something they've chosen, or whether it's as a result of the woman taking a back seat career wise to the man earlier on.

cheesebubble Sat 16-Jan-21 11:48:06

Not in my world, I earn more aka a good £1500 more take home pay but we acknowledge when one of us is busy and has to work longer, everything is split 50/50.

We're a team and in this together, always have been, always will. I would never pull the "I earn more card or am more senior because what's the point and it's a lie that someone who is more senior cannot prioritise something at home and work after the kids have gone to sleep which happens a lot in this house. I do know a few very senior managers but they're on 250k+ and their wives or husbands often don't work which is a different dynamic I would say.

Every family has to work that out between them and if both are happy with how it works, go for it. I would absolutely hate it.

BumbleBiscuit Sat 16-Jan-21 11:54:18

@SomewhatBored While woman choose to enjoy the lifestyle offered by a husband's higher salary rather than focusing on building their own careers, nothing will ever change

THIS! Women are themselves to blame for their position in life!

WalrusWife Sat 16-Jan-21 11:56:48

DH is a middle ranking military officer. His work does comes first. If he is moved to the other end of the county, I have to leave my job and go with him. I’m civil service so I can easily apply for internal jobs. He earns around twice what I earn.

Throwntothewolves Sat 16-Jan-21 11:58:01

I had a conversation about this recently with a man I have worked with for years. Both of us are fairly senior, similar job roles and responsibilities etc. I feel the pressure to keep working as the main earner in my home, but find work are reasonable about things to do with childcare responsibilities. He thinks it's harder for men to get time off for child caring responsibilities, and that duty is expected to fall to their wife/partner. I know a couple of the male employees had to real fight to get time off at all in the first lockdown to look after their kids, whereas the women with children, myself included, were offered some flexibility without even having to ask. While that's great for me, I do think it leaves women more vulnerable in the workplace. The idea that we will drop everything at a moment's notice for our kids but men can't, shouldn't or won't is outdated and needs to change.

RedskyBynight Sat 16-Jan-21 12:04:26


While woman choose to enjoy the lifestyle offered by a husband's higher salary rather than focusing on building their own careers, nothing will ever change.

It's not necessarily even to enjoy lifestyle. I dipped in (and out again) of the SAHM thread. Totally understand that some familes think it's important to have a parent at home, particularly when their children are young, but why is this (nearly) always the woman? Why do families not split the parent at home more 50/50? Whenever a woman (and it is always a woman) says "we thought it was important to have a parent at home" I always mentally rephrase this as "we thought it was important to have a parent at home and I was happy to give up my career and let my husband pay for everything". Why is this still viewed as an ideal? My SIL has academic qualifications coming out of her ears, could have done incredibly well in the workplace, but instead got pregnant a year after starting her first job and hasn't worked since (youngest child now 12). She says "I was never really career minded so happy just to stay at home with the children". I can't imagine a man ever saying that.

WingBingo Sat 16-Jan-21 12:10:11

@LooseMooseHoose yeah you are right.

When members of my team have had to apply for flexible working due to childcare, it was always the women who needed it, never the men.

Join the discussion

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Join Mumsnet

Already have a Mumsnet account? Log in