Motherhood or career?
Word Count: 2623
This report explores societies underlying issues in response to working women, especially those with children.
Western society has long been adapting to accommodate females in a typically patriarchal society and by probing both professional and family attitudes we can conclude that gender stereotypes are hindering female’s progress both emotionally and professionally. This issues cannot be resolved through one method of change alone but require threefold intervention with changes in social norms and values through better education of equality, changes within professional settings to diminish the promotion of the long hours culture and finally policy makers need to admit the faults with our current laws surrounding pregnancy in the workplace to accommodate men as well as women who wish to spend time with their child.
I am concerned with how women’s choices based on work/life balance are scrutinised and advertised as public property. As paid work is now a central theme in most individual’s lives giving advice on how to achieve the perfect balance between work/home life and passing judgment on those that deviate from these guidelines has become a fixation of societies through mediums such as the media and legal policies.
The discussion centres on the idea that a person is defined by their job role, with many women’s magazines giving column space to weekly rehashes of how to succeed in the work place or how to dress the part. Glamour magazine recently posted (Florsheim, 2014), ‘8 Essential Tips for Getting Ahead in Your First Job’, they leave out all mention of how to attack the issue of child care or the fact that women may be treated differently to their male counterparts.
In particular there’s three groups of women I wish to identify, those that have children and engage in paid employment, those which have children and do not take part in paid employment and lastly those that do not have any children.
Women are now at an all time high involvement with employment, with the female employment rate reaching 67.2 per cent in 2013, this is the highest record the Office for National Statistics began collecting this data. (DWP, 2014) With just 2.04 million women classed as being a homemaker, a reduction of almost 1 million since records began 20 years ago.
One obvious difference from the past might be the shift from locating women in the domestic sphere to one that now emphasizes a career in the world of paid employment-although. (Devereux, 2007) Overall, the ONS1 figures show 2.2million mothers with dependent children under the age of 19 have a full-time job, equivalent to around 30 per cent of all mothers. This means there are more mothers working full-time than the number staying at home, who total only two million.
But while it’s not unusual for a mother to be working it does appear unusual for a father to be taking a backseat at work and being the main child carer, for example one woman left her job after being subjected to guilt when picking her child up from nursery and the nursery worker said, ‘it’s usually daddy these days’. (Blackie, 2013)The role wouldn’t be reversed, it’s seen as unusual for a man to sacrifice his work while is still expected of a woman that her child should come first.
Theoretical and policy directions
Women are almost always assumed to either have children or are expected to have them in the future. With women who do not have children being asked why by society. Within the media framework there are no stories about women do chose to be mothers but there are millions about why women chose not to have children. A Google search of ‘why women chose to have children’, brings up about 780,000,000 results in 0.40 seconds all titled ‘why women chose not to have children’, this unashamedly shows that it is only a subject of