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Sexist policies - lack of childcare currently meaning mothers can't return to work

(88 Posts)
midclegs Fri 24-Jul-20 21:57:34

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jul/24/sexist-policies-mothers-struggle-return-work-uk-childcare

I'm lucky - I can work from home.
I really feel for those Mums who can't go back until they have childcare, it's something the Govt have totally overlooked.

But even I'm struggling - as a single parent this week has been more difficult with the kid not having any schoolwork and daily structure. Like many I'm working 10 hr days whilst still trying to give my kid some sort of quality of life.

On a plus note, it's good to see the words women and mother used in a Guardian article.

OP’s posts: |
PumbaasCucumbas Fri 24-Jul-20 22:37:35

DH is a keyworker and has been extremely busy so not much help with homeschool etc at all. I was called back from furlough in June but had no wrap around care so can only work a fraction of my usual hours (usually shifts until 7pm). I’m working every Saturday and using holiday to make up the shortfall, so we will have no time off at all this year apart from what we take separately for childcare.

I accept it is what it is, we all have sacrifices to make, and I am fortunate to have dh around, but it does fall hard on parents... I feel a bit miffed that i was called back early so couldn’t qualify for flexible furlough which would have picked up some of my shortfall instead of me scraping around to cover them on weekends and wasting all of my annual leave. But at least my job is secure which I know is not true for many others.

You do feel a bit forgotten when the government are on about pubs, cinemas, air bridges and “new normal” - it’s like they’ve moved on and left us behind.

Alienin Sat 25-Jul-20 10:34:34

As an unemployed single Mum, I would love to go out to work. I apply for jobs in the hope that they would allow me to put back the start date to when school starts. There used to be summer clubs here, but I doubt that will happen this year.

Kit19 Sat 25-Jul-20 10:42:59

Yes the guardian know women and mothers when they talk about childcare don’t they?

The complete lack of thought about childcare and how that squares with wanting women to go back to work has been depressing but not surprising.

WhenSheWasBad Sat 25-Jul-20 11:55:59

It’s awful. We are really lucky that after school club is back on in September. For lots of families that option has disappeared and they are a bit screwed.

Often the woman is the lower earner so it makes financial sense for her to quit her job. Bloody awful.

Singasonga Sat 25-Jul-20 14:48:29

It's outrageous, and yet another sign of how this government is formed of people who have no idea how ordinary families make ends meet. Childcare is infrastructure.

Bitchinkitchen Sat 25-Jul-20 14:55:38

I disagree with these policies being sexist - the issue isn't with the policies, it is with the way individuals choose to structure their families. If you had babies with a dick who won't do his share, you're disadvantaged. If you had babies with a decent man who takes responsibility for his family, then he shoulders some of the burden and no one is more disadvantaged than the other.

PumbaasCucumbas Sat 25-Jul-20 16:21:07

I’m sorry I didn’t structure my family with a global pandemic in mind... we had our working lives working like a (mainly) well oiled machine, working around rotas, bank holidays, school hours, out of school clubs, nursery for youngest and quite intense jobs with no option of home working/flexitime/clocking off at 5. The lack of childcare (which we carefully plan and budget for together) has thrown a massive spanner in the works, and family living miles away/shielding can’t help us. I’m the part-time/lower paid one, so it falls mainly to me. DH isn’t the problem here.

I would agree that government policy isn’t overtly sexist, but definitely given little thought/protection to families and has definitely left parents behind. As in our country it is women who do more parenting/unpaid caring, it hits us harder and will leave far more of us unemployed by the end of this.

BumblebeeBum Sat 25-Jul-20 16:45:19

Bitchinkitchen

I disagree with these policies being sexist - the issue isn't with the policies, it is with the way individuals choose to structure their families. If you had babies with a dick who won't do his share, you're disadvantaged. If you had babies with a decent man who takes responsibility for his family, then he shoulders some of the burden and no one is more disadvantaged than the other.

I hate when women are blamed for their choice of man rather than the man who is not doing his share.

Bitchinkitchen Sat 25-Jul-20 16:47:17

@BumblebeeBum choice being the operative word here.

SerendipityJane Sat 25-Jul-20 16:53:48

The whole situation seemed a bit Alice in Wonderland to me anyway.

In order to enforce a patrician morality of class: that only naice middle class mummies can stay at home to look after their children on Daddies wages; the UK has evolved into a country where women find themselves going out to work to pay someone else to look after their children with many of them finding they are paying more than they are earning.

It's almost as if successive governments have been sneaking in policies and measures intended to teach women that want to work they they shouldn't. Another force driving the modest gains since the 60s backwards.

In any other country, at any other time, the present development of events would have been the prompt for a root-and-branch rethink of how society can support families of all shapes and sizes.

But, as we are being told daily by the men in charge, this isn't any other country, so if you can't whistle, this is probably a good time to learn.

SueEllenMishke Sat 25-Jul-20 16:54:53

Bitchinkitchen

I disagree with these policies being sexist - the issue isn't with the policies, it is with the way individuals choose to structure their families. If you had babies with a dick who won't do his share, you're disadvantaged. If you had babies with a decent man who takes responsibility for his family, then he shoulders some of the burden and no one is more disadvantaged than the other.


Ah if only it was this simple.

This pandemic will be catastrophic for many women's career.

Me and DH are very lucky in that we can both continue to WFH and have understanding employers BUT if we didn't it would be a completely different story. We're a partnership and DH more than pulls his weight but he earns double my salary and if push came to shove I would have to be the one to give up work. Financially it just wouldn't work any other way.

It's all very depressing.

BumblebeeBum Sat 25-Jul-20 16:55:59

Who do you think has more responsibility for a (in your words) ‘poorly structured family’ where the man does not do his fair share @Bitchinkitchen? The man or the woman?

Because all of your scorn has been towards the woman so far. Part of the ingrained misogyny that is part of the issue.

IloveJKRowling Sat 25-Jul-20 16:58:26

The fact is that the bad men often only show their dickishness when children come along - read any one of a million threads on this in relationships. Often when it's just a couple and housework is minimal, they do their fair share and talk about feminism and how they're into equality. Suddenly that evaporates when a child comes into the mix and they realise the sheer volume of work and that if they do their fair share they will have significantly less leisure time. It's almost as if they know that behaviour like that when no child is present would result in their walking orders but when the child is there they know the Mum will do anything to avoid disadvantaging the child - even if it means doing most of the housework and childcare.

(to try and avoid a derail I'm going to specify that lots of men are proper adults and share parenting equally)

SerendipityJane Sat 25-Jul-20 17:15:33

The fact is that the bad men often only show their dickishness when children come along - read any one of a million threads on this in relationships.

Or die (usually the wrong ones though).

That said, we'll see a return to the idea that a woman should remarry to ease the burden on the state (that's the rest of society) in about 4 or 5 years.

wellbehavedwomen Sat 25-Jul-20 17:32:52

IloveJKRowling

The fact is that the bad men often only show their dickishness when children come along - read any one of a million threads on this in relationships. Often when it's just a couple and housework is minimal, they do their fair share and talk about feminism and how they're into equality. Suddenly that evaporates when a child comes into the mix and they realise the sheer volume of work and that if they do their fair share they will have significantly less leisure time. It's almost as if they know that behaviour like that when no child is present would result in their walking orders but when the child is there they know the Mum will do anything to avoid disadvantaging the child - even if it means doing most of the housework and childcare.

(to try and avoid a derail I'm going to specify that lots of men are proper adults and share parenting equally)

I'm afraid that's been my experience amongst most friends, yes. Dual careers and more or less equal division of the (minimal) household labour. Then babies arrive, the woman takes maternity leave, it all becomes her job over that period, and then remains as such even when she returns to work. The mental load massively increases, as she has to negotiate all the admin around the child's life in every area, and the housework side is also hugely greater. Lots of men seem to carry on as they did before having kids. Not all - but many. I really don't know if it's falling into childhood patterns, or a subconscious belief that the woman can't leave as easily, or just laziness mentally, as well as practically. But it's not in the least unusual.

PlanDeRaccordement Sat 25-Jul-20 17:36:41

Bitchinkitchen

I disagree with these policies being sexist - the issue isn't with the policies, it is with the way individuals choose to structure their families. If you had babies with a dick who won't do his share, you're disadvantaged. If you had babies with a decent man who takes responsibility for his family, then he shoulders some of the burden and no one is more disadvantaged than the other.

I agree with you.
The policy discriminates only against single parents.
Where you have hetero couples, the lack of childcare means that one must stay home and not return to work or both must split the childcare with modified work schedule.
Women with a male partner don’t have to do the childcare while he goes back to work. They have choices and other options like he does childcare while they go back to work. ,

whatnow41 Sat 25-Jul-20 21:55:48

Just from an economic perspective, here is my real life example. A close male friend of mine at work got promoted to the same job as me about a month after I did. We shared a similar journey, same level of education and same status universities and similar prior work experience. I had 2 yrs more experience than him. Pay awards each year based on performance we're well structured (standard 3% raise) and exactly the same for us. Then I chose to have a baby.

I took mat leave in the November and didn't qualify for any bonus or pay award for that financial year. I returned FT after 12 months and didn't qualify for a bonus or pay award the following year either. The next year I got the standard pay award of 3%, but my salary was by then 2 years of pay awards behind my male colleague. And I was out of pocket by 2 bonus payments. Total 8k.

A promotion opportunity came up but I was told I could not apply as I didn't have a full 3yrs of achieving my objectives. My male friend got the job. The pay increase was over 10k (and well deserved).

My child was 18 months old by this point, you can guess the impact on my career and earning potential of a second child, can't you?

So this is a simple illustration of how and why women often become the lower earner within a couple, even when returning to work FT within an established career.

Not having childcare in place absolutely punishes women and devalues our work, someone has to take the hit and our government consider women's careers and our financial independence to be collateral damage.

user1487194234 Sat 25-Jul-20 22:09:50

I am becoming increasingly irritated about the idea that women inevitably will have to pick up the childcare slack etc
Is it still 1950
Absolutely no way I would do that or would my DH expect it

PlanDeRaccordement Sat 25-Jul-20 23:40:46

@whatnow41
The economic consequences you describe are real, but not because you had a child. They are because you took 12 months off work for maternity.

I’ve had 4 DCs and was off 12weeks with all of them in total (pre and post childbirth). No more than many men who get injured, cancer or need major surgery. I experienced no falling behind because I didn’t disappear for a year per child. I also during the year I had a baby, ensured I accomplished as much work in the 3/4 of the year as my peers got done in the whole year (measured by #projects completed adjusted for size and complexity as tracked by my senior management). I was even promoted right before baby #3 and they just set the start date for after my maternity leave.

And to my mind, it is perfectly fair to fall behind a peer who has stayed in work and gotten that much more experience.

nepeta Sat 25-Jul-20 23:57:06

whatnow41

Just from an economic perspective, here is my real life example. A close male friend of mine at work got promoted to the same job as me about a month after I did. We shared a similar journey, same level of education and same status universities and similar prior work experience. I had 2 yrs more experience than him. Pay awards each year based on performance we're well structured (standard 3% raise) and exactly the same for us. Then I chose to have a baby.

I took mat leave in the November and didn't qualify for any bonus or pay award for that financial year. I returned FT after 12 months and didn't qualify for a bonus or pay award the following year either. The next year I got the standard pay award of 3%, but my salary was by then 2 years of pay awards behind my male colleague. And I was out of pocket by 2 bonus payments. Total 8k.

A promotion opportunity came up but I was told I could not apply as I didn't have a full 3yrs of achieving my objectives. My male friend got the job. The pay increase was over 10k (and well deserved).

My child was 18 months old by this point, you can guess the impact on my career and earning potential of a second child, can't you?

So this is a simple illustration of how and why women often become the lower earner within a couple, even when returning to work FT within an established career.

Not having childcare in place absolutely punishes women and devalues our work, someone has to take the hit and our government consider women's careers and our financial independence to be collateral damage.

Your personal story is also a good example of the way these different parts interact women's working lives. Once a woman has dropped behind in earnings, she is then also going to be the choice whenever one partner has to cut back on labor market work for a while, because the loss of earnings for the family (in the short run though not necessarily in the long run) will be less than if her husband did the cutting back.

The ratchet effect in this will then affect almost all division of labor within the household, possibly over the entire working lives of the couple.

PlanDeRaccordement Sun 26-Jul-20 00:01:36

To be fair though, most women marry men who have higher earnings to begin with. They don’t fall behind their partner after a baby, because they already made less to begin with. There is a cultural pressure for women to marry up, and not consider as partners men who earn less than they do.

slipperywhensparticus Sun 26-Jul-20 00:11:09

Bitchinkitchen

*@BumblebeeBum* choice being the operative word here.

Not at all my ex husband was a fantastic father and provider then we got married he turned into an abusive rapist now we are divorced he is virtually absent and disrupted my last job to the degree that I no longer have a job

I didnt choose this life

whatnow41 Sun 26-Jul-20 09:36:31

@PlanDeRaccordement yours is a very unusual story. I agree it's because I took 12 months off, but in all my 20+ years in the workplace I have never known a woman take only 3 months. And I've managed department's office 500+ people in more junior roles that are more female dominated/family friendly. I was also the high earner between DH and I, by twice as much. Not any more though, he earns marginally more than me and we are both FT. I've always worked FT except when on mat leave. We try to keep the impact of childcare even, but now we don't have wraparound care, it is me shouldering the majority of it.

The ratcheting affect is very real. If one of us has to cut our hours in September to facilitate schools going back, it will have to be me. My chances of career development and promotion are then harmed by my inability to work FT compared with counterparts, and the perception of me that I'm not career oriented if I work less than FT.

I have a DB but 100% of caring for our elderly sick mother falls to me. He's gone non contact rather than step up. When the time comes, she will move in with me rather than go in to care. Ratcheting affect yet again.

Tanith Sun 26-Jul-20 10:09:04

It doesn't make sense.

I'm seeing childminders closing permanently because they can't get clients. One has recently lost all her existing clients.
The council recently sent round a survey asking us how many unfilled places we will have in September: I will have two full time places unfilled when I am usually full with a waiting list.

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