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Live webchat with Cristina Odone (Friday 23 Oct), 1-2pm

(126 Posts)
HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 22-Oct-09 13:10:07

We're delighted to announce that Cristina Odone is joining us for a webchat tomorrow lunchtime (Friday 23 Oct, 1-2pm).

Cristina has just written a paper for the Centre for Policy Studies (Tory thinktank) called What Women Want.. And How They Can Get It. In it, she argues that the Government needs to stop encouraging women/mothers back to full-time work because most of us don't want to commit to a full-time job.

In her conclusion, she says: "... we need to break the stranglehold that a small coterie of women who work fulltime and buy into the macho way of life, enjoy on our public life. They have, for years, misrepresented real women who reject the masculine value system for one that rates caring above a career, and inter-dependence above independence."

Some of you have already been discussing her views on this thread and you can download the full paper here.

Cristina is a writer, broadcaster and journalist - she was editor of the Catholic Herald and deputy editor of the New Statesman - and a mother.

If you can't join us tomorrow for the chat, please post your advance questions here.

CristinaOdone Fri 23-Oct-09 12:47:20



CristinaOdone Fri 23-Oct-09 12:50:59


GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 23-Oct-09 12:56:39

Cristina's going to be on the thread shortly. She's been reading through your questions and has some answers she's already prepared, so she'll post those first and then be ready for new questions.

Thanks for coming on Cristina

VulpusinaWilfsuit Fri 23-Oct-09 13:00:43

Wish I could be around for this but briefly,

When you say 'what women want' presumably you mean everyone else other than you, and the Tory women who perhaps consulted you and perhaps all the women in the Centre for Policy Studies...?

You mean it's only working class women you'd rather have barefoot and pregnant again then?


CristinaOdone Fri 23-Oct-09 13:01:02

Hi there, this is Cristina... please bear with me, I have no voice (thank god we're only posting today) and no kitchen floor (just moved home,,,,, argh....) soam a bit frazzzled... but i love the questions and comments including the one from the original webt chat last week saying I was a fossil...
but first things first. Got the qustionnaire from mnhq: Favourite biscuit? Digestive
Banksy or Vermeer? Vermeer -- I once went to a Banksy "event" and by
the time I came away i wanted to slit my wrists
Favourite book? please can I have two? Little Women and Anna Karenina
Favourite film? Casablanca
What do you value most justice or mercy? mercy: I would never be able
to shop a friend or a family member even if they'd slaughtered
innocent babies
Urban or rural for living? city, please
Cosy and warm carpets or draughty floorboards? draughty floorboards
Ikea or junk shop? Ikea
Black or green wellies? green
Book that had the most profound effect on you as a child? Little women

TheMysticMasseuse Fri 23-Oct-09 13:03:29

hello Cristina.

1. what is the point of educating girls then?
2. doesn't it grate that a religion that is more or less founded on a woman (for me catholicism is the cult of Mary more than anything else) have such a disparaging and reductive view of women?

CristinaOdone Fri 23-Oct-09 13:03:53

To Northernlurker: when I write that most women "prefer" to opt out of a career, I am not just basing myself on our YouGov poll (though it was a representative sample of 2000 plus). There are numerous surveys and studies that came up with similiar statistics --including the six month long government consulation exercise (some people called it a road show) "Listening to Women" -- over 12000 women took part and again, they said that they would prefer not to live to work, but fit work into their life

CristinaOdone Fri 23-Oct-09 13:05:59

Dear Mysticmasseuse 1) have you read VS Naipaul's book of that name and isn't it one of the best ever 2) I never say that work is not important to women I just say that, listening to the women I have listened to, it is clear WORK IS NOT central to our sense of self or sense of satisfaction and achievement... contrary to what many say

Northernlurker Fri 23-Oct-09 13:08:33

Oh come on - not wanting to live to work and wanting to opt out of a career altogether are completely different things! Sorry - not persuaded by that one.

CristinaOdone Fri 23-Oct-09 13:09:43

VulpusinaWulfsuit, the women who participated in the research were from a representative sample, and the ones whose case studies I had access to through the tavistock centre for couples relationship were pretty representative, too. This pamphlet was not a party political broadside: I think the working macho culture is as much a conservative party construct as a new Labour one.... I think the Tories should listen to women on marriage for ex: women don't value marriage as much as a strong loving relationship...

InmyheadIminParis Fri 23-Oct-09 13:10:30

Don't you think you're being too black and white about this?

You're asking women about their views on careers in the current workplace.

I think if you'd looked a bit deeper you'd have found that women would like to keep their careers going - but in a more flexible workplace. Don't you think that if you gave women the option to work 3 days a week and progress their careers in the same way they would be able to if they worked full time most women would jump at the chance?

CristinaOdone Fri 23-Oct-09 13:11:33

northernlurker: opting out of a career does not mean opting out of a job... You can work even fulltime without having a career that is demanding, and requires your constant attention.

fruitspooksbatsintheeaves Fri 23-Oct-09 13:12:06

'WORK IS NOT central to our sense of self or sense of satisfaction and achievement... '

but it does become central when the majority of people look down their noses at SAHM's.
SAHM's are NOT valued by society OR the government, and therefore feel the presure to work.

InmyheadIminParis Fri 23-Oct-09 13:13:23

And many men, too, btw

CristinaOdone Fri 23-Oct-09 13:13:41

InmyheadIminParis (and in mine I'm in Rome, enjoying pasta vino and la dolce vita) a huge part of my pamphlet is about how women would like to do part time work, and are frustrated by the few opportun available in that sector. Why? because if you are running a small or even a large company, you thnk twice about creating part time jobs as they cost you more in terms of money time and paperwork. Govmt (right or left) should makle it easier for employers to create part time jobs!

CMOTdibbler Fri 23-Oct-09 13:13:50

Surely though, couples who were attending the Tavistock were there because of problems in their relationships ? Not the many families happily getting on with their lives.

I was a bit hmm that they read like Daily Mail stereotypes too.

The fact that 85% of KPMG employees have applied to work 4 days a week must show that everyone (just about) would like to work less without compromising their career

CristinaOdone Fri 23-Oct-09 13:15:37

fruitspooksbatsinthe YES YES you're right SAHMs I encountered through this research were lonely and felt incredibly under-valued. SAHMs don't get the respect they should from all quarters --including other women

Northernlurker Fri 23-Oct-09 13:15:39

Oh yes those case studies - glad you mentioned that. The case study of Ally and Karl - you seem to suggest that Karl's extra-marital affair is Ally's fault for being too powerful and neglecting the emotional side of her realtionship. Is that ^really what you think - or am I mistaken - and if that is what you think does the same hold true for couple where the man is working outside the home, focusing on that and neglecting his wife, is she too justified in having an affair?

TheMysticMasseuse Fri 23-Oct-09 13:16:54

Hi Cristina, my favourite Naipaul book is A House for Mr Biswas but that wasn't as snappy a screen name

ok so yes, work may not be central to our sense of self-worth but it is essential and I think while in many ways you are saying the unsayable and in that sense your honesty ought to be welcome, you are threading a very very fine line between asserting the uniqueness of women and a good old reactionary view that women should jsut shut up and stay home.

InmyheadIminParis Fri 23-Oct-09 13:17:54

Of course they should - but if you believe that, then you have to agree that a career is important to many women. Women want to be able to balance the care of their children and their interest in the workplace. They want to be valued for the work they do, even if its for fewer hours than women with out children. They want their careers to progress, not stall. The 'problem' is that many (most?) women are prepared to sacrifice their career progression to ensure they can spend time with their children. It's not that they want to do it, it's that they're prepared to make the sacrifice.

onebatmother Fri 23-Oct-09 13:18:16

Ahem. Finding it almost impossible to juggle the expectation that we will both work, and bring up children with care and thought is NOT the same thing as not wanting to work, I wouldn't say.

Where are the men?

It's pretty simple. When working men work as hard in the home as working women do, it's all.. doable.

CristinaOdone Fri 23-Oct-09 13:19:02

AitchTwoToTangOh you asked me about Lorenzo, my half brother who was diagnosed with adrenoleukodystrophy when he was six. My father and stepmother decided to find a curefor him, and discovered Lorenzo's Oil(they made a Hollywood film about their story), which didn't cure him (he died last year) but which did keep him with us until he was 33... a tragedy like that can bind the family closer but it can also shake up your beliefs -- in my case, I had a difficult time reconciling the kind God of my catholic upbringing with one who could allow this to happen to a little six year old boy... still do...

onebatmother Fri 23-Oct-09 13:20:40

Very sorry to hear that news CO.

TheMysticMasseuse Fri 23-Oct-09 13:21:28

btw i should add that i work p-t in a job i love so i consider to have the perfect work life balance and i appreciate how enormously lucky i am. still between not working at all and giving up my chance to contribute to society (and yes you do contribute as a mother but i know i can do a lot more than that) and working FT i'd go FT

Northernlurker Fri 23-Oct-09 13:21:29

The yougov survey asked about women working though and made no distinction between 'job' and 'career'. I work full time and have what I would describe as a 'career' but I can also manage to love and care for my family. What would imo be really stupid is to do a job below the level at which I can excel just to have more space in my head to think about my laundry and after school activities.

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