jueves, 12 de octubre de 2017

Please quit calling the workforce gender gap the ‘motherhood penalty’ | MercatorNet |October 12, 2017| MercatorNet |

Please quit calling the workforce gender gap the ‘motherhood penalty’

MercatorNet  |October 12, 2017| MercatorNet  |

Please quit calling the workforce gender gap the ‘motherhood penalty’

Let mum and dad work out their own fair share of home work.
Veronika Winkels | Oct 12 2017 | comment 

Photo by Daniela Rey on Unsplash

Want to talk about the roles of husbands in the home, or wives at work? It’s a thorny issue. And not just for feminists. Women who do not strongly identify with that philosophy wrestle with what a fair share of domestic responsibilities should look like as well.
A recent article in The Economist argues that an uneven distribution in housework and parental responsibilities still exists in Western homes, with the larger load falling on the woman. It claims this inequity is the reason for the fact “women greatly outnumber men in lower-level jobs, such as clerical and administrative positions, whereas managerial and senior jobs are mostly held by men.”
Describing it as the “motherhood penalty,” the article notes that women’s careers suffer more than their husbands’ after children are added to the family. Interestingly though, it suggests that embarking on parenthood doesn’t account for those stats entirely. It highlights the importance of spouses’ need to adapt to a heavier workload in the home when children come along. The article suggests the husband’s failure to adapt to home work is partly the reason women are held back.
This all too familiar trope of feminist and economic theory is designed to push couples towards a 50-50 share of household work, including child care, so that the woman can pursue paid work on the same basis as her husband – an impractical goal when children are very young and, in fact, not what most women want. It is aimed at changing the attitudes of men, but is just as likely to change women’s attitude to motherhood – negatively. 
To describe the woman’s career as “suffering” because of a “motherhood penalty” can cause cognitive dissonance when it comes to desiring both children and career. It can even make women feel guilty or second-rate if they should so much as desire raising a family instead of continuing in their career path.
It is, understandably, difficult for women who do desire both career and family to resist the feeling that men seem to be able to achieve both more easily– not having to choose one at the expense of the other. Yet the gender difference, which makes pregnancy and breastfeeding impossible for a man (and evokes a preposterous image) is too often neglected.
By stopping short at the gender-gap tantrum, feminist theory disenables serious progress on how a woman can meet the challenge of integrating domestic, career and maternal roles in a creative way.
It’s a deep rabbit hole. But perhaps more practically, it’s a problem without a textbook solution. While this might be seen as unhelpful, perhaps it is liberating in one sense. If there’s no prototype for equal tasking when it comes to careers, housework and child rearing, then couples can invent their own pattern for it.
Perhaps she picks up the kids from school Monday-Wednesday, he does it Thursday-Friday. The laundry might be fully her domain while he is the resident vaccuumer. He might be cooking a family meal while she’s out doing the weekly grocery shop. Doing housework at the same time can give couples a strong sense of teamwork too.
A little innovation, much communication–and probably much compromise as well–a balance which both couples feel mutually happy about can be achieved. But that ideal will remain pie in the sky unless domestic standards are flexible and families forgo homemade pie more often.
Although modern marriages are edging further away from the traditional dynamic of man as breadwinner and woman as homemaker, the adage (from Homer, I believe – and no, not Homer Simpson) still holds good:
“There is nothing nobler or more admirable than when two people who see eye to eye keep house as man and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends.”
Any marriage able to overcome the 21st century gender role crisis is a noble and admirable thing indeed.
Veronika Winkels is a freelance writer who lives in Melbourne and is married with two young children. She recently completed a thesis on the philosophy of science


October 12, 2017

All warfare is terrible, but the commemorations of the First World War bring sobering reminders of just how dreadful and futile some of it can be. For a small country like New Zealand, which sent 42 percent of men of military age to fight with Britain against the Kaiser, these occasions touch many families in a personal way.

One hundred years ago today (October 12) the New Zealand Division of the 2nd Anzac Corps took its turn to attack the German line near the town of Ypres in Belgium. It was raining heavily, as it had been for most of the week, turning the battle front, Passchendaele,  to a quagmire, and the artillery could not be properly positioned. But the high command believed the Kiwis, who had done well in previous battles, could achieve the breakthrough that would cut off Belgium’s channel ports, bases for U-boats that were taking a heavy toll of merchant ships supplying Britain.

The division’s commander urged a delay for a break in the weather, but the Corp commander and Field Marshall Douglas Haig were determined to attack that day. “At dawn the soldiers went forward as best they could, wading in the mud under machine gun fire. Any who made it as far as the barbed wire were doomed to die on it. Within hours, New Zealand had suffered its largest death toll in a single day. The division was virtually destroyed.”

There were 2,735 casualties, 845 of whom were dead or stranded in the mud that sucked them down so they could not be rescued. Another 120 men would die of their injuries. All for a miserable 500 yards of ground gained.

No doubt there are many battles in history that were as bad or worse in their own way, but the horrific images Passchendaele leaves in the mind serve to remind Kiwis that a great price has been paid at different times for our peace and security – and not to squander our moral capital on petty, self-serving ambitions.

The above account draws heavily on an editorial in today’s New Zealand Herald print edition. A fuller account is here.

Carolyn Moynihan 
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Please quit calling the workforce gender gap the ‘motherhood penalty’

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