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Women exercise conscious choice when not aiming for the top jobs and are happier for it

(102 Posts)
BonsoirAnna Wed 09-Sep-09 19:58:34


WidowWadman Wed 09-Sep-09 20:02:13

Yeah, right. hmm

pasturesnew Wed 09-Sep-09 20:02:31

It's still rather "women know their place" isn't it? Why shouldn't people in the top jobs have good relationships with their colleagues etc.?

BonsoirAnna Wed 09-Sep-09 20:16:12

I don't agree it's "women know their place" at all - quite the opposite!

weaselbudge Thu 10-Sep-09 09:31:03

All the women in my city office in top positions have house-husbands or at least husbands who work regular 9-5 hours so they can get home for the children. Unless the men are willing to take over the bulk of the childcare and sacrifice their own careers, women will continue not to aim for the top positions. I do think it remains true that women want to be there for their familes more than men at the expense of their careers but whether this is a natural difference between the sexes or whether this has just come about from generations of defined gender roles I'm not sure.

ABetaDad Thu 10-Sep-09 09:44:26

This is nonsense.

Some women do not want a high flying career and are happy to be SAHM, work at a lower trajectory career path, etc. However, some women want a high flying career and their path is definitley block - I am married to one such woman. She did not limit herself at all and she is the mst driven ambitious person I know. Did not make any difference, the ceiling was not glass it was made of granite.

weaselbudge - I worked in the City and was prepared to give up my career, be SAHD, follow a lower trajectory but more interesting part time career so that DW coudl carry on with hers but that plan was scuppered by what happened to her.

TheDMshouldbeRivened Thu 10-Sep-09 09:45:49

'Last month a report in Economic Journal showed that women look lower down the career ladder in order to find jobs that allow them to spend time with their families, and as many as a third of female managers take lower-skilled jobs after having a child.'

well yeah. Because they still have to do the bulk of the child rearing, care and cleaning!
But I do think more women than men prefer to be at home with the children if they had a real choice. Not all, but most.

edam Thu 10-Sep-09 09:48:50

Women are making these 'choices' in the context of an economy and society that expects them to sacrifice their careers and makes it extremely difficult to pursue top jobs while looking after a family. Although some people manage it, it's quite rare.

Men in senior roles are only able to be there if they have kids because (largely) there is a woman who has sacrificed her career.

Am not sure if they had a real choice, women would opt for being poorer than men and having less choice than men. We certainly aren't more stupid than men and are perfectly capable of holding down very senior roles. But the economy is not set up to enable both parents to reach the top and it's usually the woman who suffers.

edam Thu 10-Sep-09 09:51:28

And as Abetadad says, women are not necessarily making 'choices' at all - even when they can commit to a senior role, discrimination means they stand less chance of being appointed than a man, even where equally qualified. Partly because of the tendency to recruit in your own image - if the person at the top is white and male they will generally prefer white male candidates.

OrmIrian Thu 10-Sep-09 10:02:20

Because women are much better carers of course.


I started a stillborn thread about this article Which to my mind contains a distillation of the all the attitudes that stifle men as parents and explain why women feel obliged to be the main carers. All that blood-connection stuff. Mothers know your place!

edam Thu 10-Sep-09 10:06:47

ah, but don't forget when a couple gets divorced, the child lives mostly with the mother because of discrimination, nothing to do with that parent happening to be the primary carer in most cases... hmm

BonsoirAnna Thu 10-Sep-09 10:15:15

"But the economy is not set up to enable both parents to reach the top and it's usually the woman who suffers."

This is precisely the point that the article (book) disagrees with - that it is not due to extrinsic factors but rather to instrinsic factors that women scale back their career ambitions.

Actually, I completely agree with this. I have never felt any work place discrimination or societal pressure that would prevent me from working - on the contrary, I feel much more discriminated against for choosing to not work full guns blazing!

BonsoirAnna Thu 10-Sep-09 10:17:11

I know plenty of mothers with very demanding careers. Nothing is stopping them from succeeding in the work place.

However, they are stressed and see very little of their children. They choose to put up with that because they like working (or the money).

shophappy Thu 10-Sep-09 13:10:54

I agree with this article - before having children we both had very demanding careers - but I actively sought to scale back my career after my first child (i.e part time for 4 days and then 3 days per week) , and after the second, we went abroad for my husband's work and I did not return to work - firstly because I want to be able to spend quality time with my children, and as we move countries every few years, I think it is important that the children have my presence as a form of stability in their lives. At the point of moving abroad, my husband and I had a discussion as to what was the best option for us as a family - if I had insisted on continuing in my career, given that my earning capacity in a full time role was equal to, if not higher, than my husband's, we would have not taken up the option of moving abroad (effectively limiting his career instead of mine) As it was, I was happy to take a step back - and I agree with Weasel budge - when I was in the city all the high fling women were usually the major breadwinners in the family - it was very rare to find two highflyers (with children) - one usually made the choice to 'limit' their career.

Finally, and this might make me the feminist anti-christ, but I quite like not having the pressure of being the family breadwinner, I enjoy being a parent and I think my children benefit from me being around rather than them being 'out-sourced' so I could continue in a demanding career. I am able to do some work while they are at school ,but again, that is a choice to keep my brain engaged, and I have no intention of turning it into a full time career again.

ABetaDad Thu 10-Sep-09 13:21:32

shophappy that is fine.You made good choices for you. There are woen like my wife who were forced into their 'choices'.

VERY interesting and pertinent article this morning from Lucy Kellaway in the FT on this issue answering a female reader's question.

Should I ask my husband to look after the baby?

She says SAHM are happiest of all the people who she knows as long as they made a free choice. The second happiest group are the career women who have a supportive DP/DH who takes the strain. The unhappiest are those that have a career and still do most of the childcare too.

AtheneNoctua Thu 10-Sep-09 13:39:46

I have several friends who have scaled back their careers (usually reluctantly) on the basis that their DH makes more money and it is therefore the woman's job to pick up the childcare. I do not subscribe to this philosophy, and normally reveal my shock and horror through my facial expression to them. These same friends now complain that they get the bulk of the childcare/house work lobbed on them while their DH plays/watches football/rugby/some other passtime. They are not happy, and they have not chose this path because they prefer it. They have reluctantly accepted this path because they didn't feel they made enough money to say "no, you do it".

Bleh Thu 10-Sep-09 13:41:11

The senior women I have known in my organisation generally have house husbands (and one has a full-time nanny who is essentially part of the family). For the first one, she and her husband ended up out of work when their children were born, she found a job (when they were a few months old), took it out of desperation and took it from there and is now incredibly senior and well-respected in her field. Her husband does the majority of the childcare, but works out of home doing what he loves. It does work for both of them, but I don't think she sees her children as much as she'd like. For the second one, after her parents died (they did a lot of the childcare), her husband sold his business and took over and is now essentially retired. For both cases, I don't think either would have gotten to where they are if their husbands were also in full-on careers.
I do remember a women's network meeting a couple of months ago where they were discussing working and family, and one woman said "well, of course women's careers are damaged. Men can just carry on working as if nothing has happened after a child is born, but women have to look after it". My jaw was on the floor: what kind of men does she know if she thinks they can essentially forget that they have offspring! (bankers mostly).

Bleh Thu 10-Sep-09 13:43:35

One thing I was wondering about is if you turn it around: do men feel like they have the right to become SAHD's after their children are born, if they so wish? I see a lot of comments under articles about this sort of thing, normally along the lines of: at least women have a choice. We have to carry on working.
ABD you made this choice: how difficult was it?

CountessDracula Thu 10-Sep-09 13:48:12

I scaled my career back years ago as I really couldn't see the point of working all the time when dh had a good job too and we didn't need the money

I was a young director of a software house, I loved it (mostly) and worked hard and reaped the benefits. Then one day I though oh f**k this I want children at some point, I want some of my life. I enjoy doing my job but not all the management stuff. So I resigned and got a job doing what I like doing with none of the managment stuff. Then a few years ago I got bored with the corporate bollocks and went self-employed. I now have a job i love where I don't have to worry about all that stuff. I work pretty much when I want to. I have just had 8 months off for eg and going back next week. I am planning to work til next summer then take that off. I work on avg 3 or 4 days a week and get paid very well for it (as well as dh still, often more). We have a good balance of work and life between us I feel.

I don't think it's just because I am a woman though. I think it's because I am me. DH has taken similar decisions in his career (ie not to go for partnership in a city law firm as this = no life IME)

CountessDracula Thu 10-Sep-09 13:50:49

and yes I am happier as I am in control of my work life broadly

And yes I do want to have fun

stepaway Thu 10-Sep-09 13:56:48

I did this. Before I had children, but knowing that I did want to have children in future, I consciously chose a career path that was suited to part-time/freelance work. If I hadn't wanted to have children in future, I wouldn't have made the career choices I did. I would certainly have a more high-powered/responsible job.

My DH's choice of career path, by contrast, has not been affected by a desire to have children.

dittany Thu 10-Sep-09 13:59:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ABetaDad Thu 10-Sep-09 13:59:16

Bleh - not dificult at all to make the choice. I had done everythng in my career I wanted to do by the time I was in my early 30s. I wanted to start an academic career and DW wanted to still be in her high powered job jumping on planes to every corner of the globe at a moment's notice. She had the potential to be a very high earner too.

It as obvious that if we wanted children one of us had ot be in a more flexible role. I offered to develop a low powered low pay academic career but on the explicit understanding that it would always be me that had to put my career behind my SAHD responsibilities. If DW had to be in Tokyo by tomorrow night there would never be any reason for her to say no or me to stop her. Pretty much as others have said, it is impossible for both to have a high powered career.

Sadly, things did not work out that way so we are now both SAHM/SAHD and work at home together. That was something we were forced into. DW still finds it very hard to come to terms with and so do I as I gave up my academic career too.

OrmIrian Thu 10-Sep-09 14:00:41

I like 'pinker wanker' dittany. Do you think it could be introduced as a character on INTG? The PinkWanka wink

BethNoire Thu 10-Sep-09 14:11:29

No Orm because we'd get confused in our house with MaccaWanka as he is already named chez us.

Pinkatossa do?

I guess I see this from two sides; In one way I applaud anyone who realises that once the bills have been paid you have to factor in a life, and it's something DH and I have actively decided to do when he has been offered the opportunity of promotions in the past when they wuld affect the things he really enjoys. OTOH I wouldn't want it to distract from reality on how woemn are at a real disadvantage still- just my own case, good degree, plenty of experience, studying MA inn the evenings.... yet becuase of lack of availability of suitable childcare every job I have applied for 9and never even had a reply) since I decided to start looking has had a requirement of between - 4 GCSE's tops.
No carers here after , before 8, at weekends or for children with additional needs. Almost all mums SAHM, and on three occasions I have had to turn down the chance to stand politically (local basis only!!!) becuase there is no way to work it around dh's career, and whilst he is damned good at being 50% of everything, his skills aren't very transferable.

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