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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

Gender Pay Gap due to women's choices

62 replies

notjustapotforsoup · 19/12/2010 23:22

it seems. Hmmm.....

I'll give an advisory note on the comments section, as usual.

OP posts:
ISNT · 20/12/2010 20:37

Yes radioBB it's bizarre how the same statement can be interpreted to mean polar opposite things depending on your POV.

msrisotto · 21/12/2010 08:32

Generally though, men do not get criticised for having a family and a successful career. I say generally, like the media. My DP criticises his dad for having had a successful career and never seeing his kids.

SantasSackura · 21/12/2010 08:49

LOL "bog standard sexist denier"

Why do they have such ENORMOUS platforms to shout from??

Soupspoon · 21/12/2010 09:02

This sort of article must surely discourage lots of women, even if only subliminally, from trying to get on in their careers, by implying that success is not what they really want; "child-free, nominal families, long hours, total commitment, most women want other things".

As someone in a senior role, I would say that it's probably easier for me to juggle my day (more latitude with hours etc) than it would have been for the more junior me 10 years ago, or for someone lower down in the organisation now.

Yes, there's more reponsibility and buck-stops-here type of stuff, but there can also be more personal flexibility and also more money for childcare etc.

This is never mentioned by these sorts of articles.

tribpot · 21/12/2010 09:14

Are these "women's choices"? I had assumed that as parents couples sit down and plan what is the best combination of work and childcare for their circumstances and within the current constraints of workplace practice. In my old department we had five people working a 4 day week for childcare reasons - four of them were men. I assume each one of them sat down with their partner and agreed this choice as a joint one.

Until we can break down the notion that juggling a family and career is a woman's problem alone we have a very, very long way to go until the battle for equality is won.

msrisotto · 21/12/2010 09:24

"Until we can break down the notion that juggling a family and career is a woman's problem alone we have a very, very long way to go until the battle for equality is won."

Exactly. It's actually not a hard concept to grasp so lord knows why the article misses it so wildly.

ISNT · 21/12/2010 09:43

Well she's obviously just a terrible sexist. If this article had been written by a bloke we would have reacted less strongly - as the message she propogates is a widely held one in society.

I still can't get over the fact that she said that women have no desire to be financially independent. That's basically saying they're completely stupid, isn't it? I mean who doesn't want free access to money??? Confused

Woman 1: I inherited a lot of money, I am independently wealthy.
Woman 2: Oh dear how awful for you. I am completely reliant on others for money. If DH was to die or leave me and the children would be fucked. I far prefer it that way. Have you thought about giving all of your money away so that you can feel the joy of dependency too?

ISNT · 21/12/2010 09:44

I mean if a bloke had written it we would have said it was nonsense, but the fact it's by a woman generates a sort of double whammy.

comixminx · 21/12/2010 09:44

Hah tribpot, yes, you might think so and in your world and mine it does, but I bet in a lot of households it doesn't happen like that.

At my workplace there are quite a lot of people working four days a week for family reason but almost without exception they are women. It means that my return from mat leave next year will be fairly straightforward but it does mean that even in my reasonably enlightened workplace the visible signs we see of childcare arrangements are with the woman giving up working time, not the man.

soupspoon, very good point about increasing seniority meaning increasing flexibility - as you say this is never mentioned it these sorts of articles and yet it's quite an important factor in my planning!

tribpot · 21/12/2010 14:21

comixminx, it may be unspoken but it does 'happen' like that, even if the couple's opening assumption is "the guy will work full time and then the remaining question is what the woman will do in terms of what can be afforded or desired". It's all part of the choice. A family's choice, not a woman's choice. This is one of those areas where language is so important - I got told off by a colleague a few weeks ago for asking if his wife used the free nursery hours for their ds: "no *we" use them" he huffed (quite correctly)!

radioblahblah · 21/12/2010 16:20

i think that point about work / life balance being a choice that should be made and implemented by both parents is spot on. i would love my DP to cut down his hours so i could increase mine and be better placed to progress in my career (so would he), but his workplace would not look at this sympathetically. So is this back to the big picture of society's views on gendered roles, or can legislation play a part in creating more flexibility for both parents?

tribpot · 21/12/2010 17:01

radio, what's happened in Sweden, along with maternity/paternity leave being a a joint 'pot' of time shared between the parents, it's now mandatory for 3 months of it to be taken by the dad, in order to start to force a flex in attitudes like the one at your DP's company. Effectively it is much easier for families to make choices that overall impact more on the woman's ability to earn and the man's ability to parent. (I should stress I don't think WOHP are not parents, I work outside the home f-t myself but it's the best term I could come up with).

I don't believe that the gender pay gap is down to family lifestyle choices alone, but that must play a part. In which case allowing men more flexibility of employment will surely only help to harmonise pay faster?

radioblahblah · 21/12/2010 18:28

sweden ahead of the game as usual.

juuule · 21/12/2010 18:40

I'm curious. What would happen if the dad didn't want the 3m leave? What would happen if the mum wanted more than her allotted 3m?

tribpot · 21/12/2010 19:16

The total amount of leave is about 18 months to two years, the mum's not being forced back to work at 3 months to give the dad his chance :) They share the leave between them, with this 3m minimum period for the dad. From what I recall, my friends tended to take over at about the six month mark, when the exclusive breastfeeding was either done or expressing was well established.

I'm not sure the idea of the dad not wanting to do it really factors in - I assume there must be provisions for exceptions like "I'm on the international space station" or "I am the only heart transplant surgeon in Sweden".

snowflake69 · 21/12/2010 19:22

I think if a man is in a senior position it is very unklikely he will have a very close relationship with his kids or spend enough time with them. The same goes for women. Something has got to give.

Soupspoon · 21/12/2010 19:35

snowflake, I don't see what seniority has to do with it; surely it is about the hours worked, rather then seniority; plenty of people have to work long hours, whether senior or not.

I take DD into the nursery for 9am, and am home from work by 6.30pm on 90% of week days, and work in the evening after DD is in bed if necessary. I seldom have to work at the weekend. I worked much longer and more unsociable hours as a junior, and I am not unusual in this.

Truckulent · 21/12/2010 19:38

I think it's a great idea, and I'd have taken off as long as possible.
Surely this is the way to beat the pay inequality and the glass-ceiling?

snowflake69 · 21/12/2010 19:43

As a nursery nurse, who has seen 100s of children go through nursery, I think being full time in nursery is too much for most children.

I do think from what you hear of most children that they would prefer it if one parent was with them at home for some of that time.

tribpot · 21/12/2010 19:47

Sure, but as has been noted, conversely with seniority can come more flexibility over individual hours, for example. If I get my work done no-one cares if some of them are first thing, last thing and at the weekend (extreme example).

It is a balance, I don't think anyone questions that. But it should be a better balance. To stereotype: it should be far easier for two working parents to do 4 days a week each than it is. I know virtually no-one who achieves this. And it mostly is cultural barriers about part-time work, its value and the level of commitment of those who do it, which is simply stupid.

There still seem to be some battles to be won. Imagine my surprise ...

tribpot · 21/12/2010 20:00

Truckulent, what were you saying the good idea was? Just to be clear.

Truckulent · 21/12/2010 20:10

The Swedish example of sharing maternity/paternity leave. Therefore making it less gendered so employers less able to discriminate solely on gender.

tribpot · 21/12/2010 20:33

Truckluent, I'm glad, I thought that's what you meant.

To me it's a no-brainer, except for wondering quite how it would flex in my case, where DH is not well enough to work - I assume there are provisions for that of course!

Right, Mumsnetters, we do something next, whether it's a letter to the appropriate minister or whatever. The thread is about the pay gap: is that our theme?

ISNT · 21/12/2010 21:24

DH would have given his right arm for 3 months at home with each of the girls when they were babies. As it is he does quite nice shifts so is here most days either in the morning or the afternoon - so has had a lot of time with them in their teeny stage - more time than most. It is a real shame that men who would really like to have this opportunity are denied it, basically because our society can't get it's head around any arrangement other than the "usual" one (as tribpot says).

In our personal situation the 4 days each thing or something like it would be great - he would love more time with the children and I would love less to be honest! I love working and he is great with the kids but whichever way we cut it, it was me who was going to take the time out, even though I earned substantially more when I got pg with DD1. To be honest maybe we made some bad choices - but there didn't actually seem to be that much choice in reality, IYSWIM.

I think her point in the article - women can have a career or have kids - is a fair one - but it goes to prove the opposite of what she is saying.

CommanderDrool · 21/12/2010 21:30

Oh when did we get to choose a lifestyle? Maybe I was sick that day , or perhaps couldn't get childcare. Hmm

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