Work, childcare, ending gender

Zoe Williams writes here about recent statistics on fathers’ participation in childcare and workplace strategies for enabling this – they indicate relatively low participation (1 in 20 refusing payrise, 1 in 10 going part time – though it is not clear whether the data concerns all men, or all men who are fathers). Her take, similarly to Okin’s (1989), seems to be that until we ‘end gender’ – in particular, the assumptions about who does what, family-structure-wise – problems of equal participation in the work place and the family will remain.

She recommends that men should sacrifice the potential to earn more in the short term, in order to take advantage of, and normalise, the working structures that permit more equal participation in childcare. Interesting that this is expressed all in terms of ‘sacrifice’, rather than emphasising the surely many good things for men who have more participation in the family…

One thought on “Work, childcare, ending gender

  1. Interesting article. She also insists (as does Okin) that flexibility must be offered to both men and women on equal terms, which is a very good point. And she puts forward the “follow the money” theory. She claims that as the pay gap has narrowed, childcare has become closer to equal and suggests that if the pay gap is closed childcare will be equal. Reading her, it looks like she thinks that the pay differential causes the childcare differential, but it could equally well work the other way around. Of course, either story is far to simplistic. Still, her hypothesis is interesting. Maybe one could study families in which women get large pay rises or men get large pay drops (both while working the same hours) and see what happens to childcare divisions?

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