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Why is it usually the woman who gives up work?

(498 Posts)
Firedoll Wed 30-Nov-16 10:11:36

I'm on mat leave and have been asked 30+ times if I'll be going back to work and, when I say yes, if I'll be part time.

My DH has never once been asked about his working hours since our DS was born.

And if I say yes I am going back to work I get "oh, will your DS go to nursery/will you get a nanny?" The idea that my DH could look after DS for some of the time while I'm at work just doesn't even enters people's heads.

I don't blame people for asking because they're just making conversation. And it seems they are making a reasonable assumption as if one of the couple is going to give up work/reduce their hours, most of the time it will be the woman. In my experience at least.

But why is this? I see so often on here people saying that their OH couldn't go part time or is the higher earner. But all the latest reports suggest women in their twenties are now out earning men so that can't be true for the majority.

Is it just a cultural thing?

Duckyneedsaclean Wed 30-Nov-16 10:13:35

It's a natural thing. Maternal instinct is a real thing. Just not particularly fashionable.

WorraLiberty Wed 30-Nov-16 10:16:13

How much paternity leave did your DH take?

Somerville Wed 30-Nov-16 10:17:44

Yes it's cultural but yes it does seem to be changing for 20-somethings. I know several young couples who have both gone to 80% contracts and then the child just needs a few days of nursery.

pinkyredrose Wed 30-Nov-16 10:18:19

Ingrained societal sexism. It's needs to be challenged or it'll never change. Tiring but necessary.

Babyroobs Wed 30-Nov-16 10:18:23

We have 4 kids and because of childcare costs it has always been that we work around each other. So dh works 9-5 ish and I work evenings/ weekend/ nights. Therefore one does the childcare whilst the other works, although being a higer earner he has always done more hours than me.

Blueskyrain Wed 30-Nov-16 10:21:03

Because we've got a long way to go with equality yet, and because frustratingly, most people still seem to see mothers as the primary parent.

Wifflewaffles Wed 30-Nov-16 10:21:48

We both work part time and split child care 50/50 now.

But at first dh worked full time whilst I took 9 months maternity leave for each child. I was breastfeeding. It just made sense. Women just seem to be naturally better equipped to nurture a baby.

WorraLiberty Wed 30-Nov-16 10:24:55

Since the changes last April, shared Parental Leave allows couples to share up to 50 weeks parental leave and 37 weeks pay with their partner.

If more couples choose to share it, I guess the question will also be asked more to those fathers.

But of the mothers I know personally, none of them have chosen to share with their DPs, even when their DPs have wanted to.

Sparlklesilverglitter Wed 30-Nov-16 10:25:07

I wouldn't want to not be home with my baby, I waited years to have her and I want to look after her myself.

I am lucky with my employer I get 18 months maternity leave on a good pay package, I will return to work after that and hopefully DD will get a spot in the onsite nursery at work.

Crispbutty Wed 30-Nov-16 10:25:17

It makes sense because men don't actually get pregnant, give birth, breastfeed and need maternity leave for their body to recover.

What would happen when the couple have a second or more child if the father was part time or a sahd? The household income would drop unless he went back to work or upped his hours, which would be more difficult to do.

Chchchchangeabout Wed 30-Nov-16 10:25:18

Yes this happens to us too. Both work part-time. Apparently the male is 'amazingly brave' to do this. WTF?

Agree with Pinkyredrose also.

MrsMcAvoy Wed 30-Nov-16 10:26:25

I agree with wiffle - aspects such as BF are the main contributing factor to women staying at home while the children are young. It's nature for the female to look after the babies isn't it? I don't see it as sexist at all. Nothing wrong with stay at home dads but I just think women are biologically made for this role

BroomstickOfLove Wed 30-Nov-16 10:29:07

Women often have older partners, so while a woman in her late twenties or early thirties might be out-earning her peers, she might well be having a baby with a man who out-earns her.

In situations where both partners are in low-paid work, and there are no relatives able to provide childcare for free, the cost of childcare tends to make it easier for one partner to stop working, or to do evening and weekend work to fit in around the other partner's job. And if the mother takes maternity leave, and has been breastfeeding, she is more likely to have become the default primary carer at that time.

There's also a fair amount of discrimination at work. I'm one of many women who were made redundant while pregnant, and it can be very hard to find work when you are heavily pregnant, or have a young baby. It's virtually impossible to find good childcare for a baby at short notice, so parents are faced with the choice of putting a baby in a nursery with no guarantee of a job for the mother, or of waiting a while.

And if a mother takes 9 months to a year of maternity leave to breastfeed, her partner might well overtake her in earnings during that time, especially if the woman has had a difficult pregnancy which has affected her performance at work for the months before maternity leave, too.

It's also a cultural thing.

And typically, as a cultural thing, women tend to have partners who out-earn them.

HeadDreamer Wed 30-Nov-16 10:29:09

It's cultural. Most women I know working full time are foreigners. It's very rare for british women to work full time. Also, women tend to pick lower pay careers, so it became natural for them to choose to give up work when there's a baby. Then there's the mummy group for a SAH parent. A man will find it much harder because most other carers of children are female.

Butterpuff Wed 30-Nov-16 10:29:16

In our case because I breast fed. The hassle of expressing at work so that dh could feed at home would have been too much. Makes sense for me to do the childcare. Also I think personally my desire to be at home with my babies ALL the time is stronger than my husbands. Because of our situation I would assume others were like me. Until they said otherwise. No judging, just people often make assumption from viewing other lives through their own eyes.

HeadDreamer Wed 30-Nov-16 10:30:44

There's also a fair amount of discrimination at work. I'm one of many women who were made redundant while pregnant,

This too. I was made redundant very soon after I return from my first maternity leave. Most who were let go were mothers, (and men considered dead wood).

Pinkheart5915 Wed 30-Nov-16 10:31:59

I stay at home wth my babies because I am there Mum and want the experience of taking care of them. I wouldn't want to be away from them

I own my own business but since I had my DC I haven't really had a lot to do with the business apart from looking over accounts and hiring. I have a great replacement for me and all is fine.

DH took 4 months off his job after each child and then went part time for 2 months before returning full time.

wheresmycake Wed 30-Nov-16 10:32:16

Re assuming the DM will be the one to change working paterns/ be a SAHP, I think for some people, it depends on their own experiences as children and how they feel it affected things. My DM stopped work when my DSis was born and didn't go back until I was about 11/12. Her experience of trying to get back into work in her 40s/50s meant I didn't want to be a SAHM but neither did I want to work full time cos I didn't feel comfortable not being around in some way for my DC after school / holidays like she was so I work part-time. People are more used to DMs being at home. It takes a long time for attitudes on this stuff to change, maybe in a few years, kids raised by SAHD's / parents both working part time will choose something similar for their own children

HeadDreamer Wed 30-Nov-16 10:32:17

I breast fed but I stayed a year at home for my maternity leave. The urge to stay at home with babies I would argue is cultural. Men don't have it because they were brought up to be the provider of the family. (I never considered SAH because I don't like it).

MaudlinNamechange Wed 30-Nov-16 10:32:48

Now that you are on mat leave you are "in position" to stay as primary carer. It is now legal for men to take (some of) that initial caring time, so perhaps if they do then they will be asked more?

Of course there are long historical reasons for all this, but we have options, we can decide not to live as we have always done. When our children were small now-ex-P worked less than me (after the initial maternity leave) but he didn't pick up anything at home and it was very hard on me indeed to be out working so much and then breastfeeding at home and doing nights and all meals and cleaning. If you had asked me then why women tend to give up WOH I might have bitterly said that getting the man out to work was the only way to get him to do anything at all. (I didn't plan or mean for it to be that way - I trusted that when he was at home he would work as hard as I did when on mat leave. Actually no, no way did I think he would actually work that hard, but I thought he would at least do some)

Now we are separated, I thank my lucky stars I have my job and my independence

lilyb84 Wed 30-Nov-16 10:33:05

I'm the higher earner in our relationship and if it comes to it, it'll be DH staying home to look after our ds as we couldn't live on his salary. He's just been let go from his job so it's a very real possibility right now. When I talk to people about our situation they get quite upset on our behalf until I explain that we could actually survive on my salary alone - definitely an assumption that the man is the breadwinner!

HeadDreamer Wed 30-Nov-16 10:33:54

My mum worked full time and I had a great time with my nanny. We had the same one all through childhood. So I agree with posters that how you were brought up will affect how you make your decisions.

MrsMandS Wed 30-Nov-16 10:36:00

I think it depends on where you live and what your jobs are.

My DH earns 3x what I do and works away from home for weeks at a time. I couldn't do his job as it is based in an eastern country and there are no women in his workplace. He was only entitled to 2 weeks paternity leave.

If we both worked in my profession, where women/men are treated equally, it could easily have worked out very differently.

I'm on maternity leave now (DC3) and I never get asked 'if', always 'when'. The assumption that I'm going back annoys me!

londonrach Wed 30-Nov-16 10:37:06

Because my dh earns more than me. My dh brother is a sahd as his wife earns more. What works for each family

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