Today, a somewhat different blog but while reading the newspaper this morning, I saw an article that struck me. The latest Belgian research around the use of time indicated that we are still stuck in the traditional gender patterns.
Although an increasing percentage of the female population works outside the house (up to 70%), the participation of men in the daily household has not grown accordingly. The professor that led the study believes one of the main causes of this unwavering pattern is maternity leave. It would unconsciously convince women that childcare is their responsibility.
FEMMA, a women’s rights organization, may have found the solution: it should be mandatory for men to take 4 weeks of parental leave at the birth of a child. It would give the signal that childcare is the responsibility of both men and women.
Aren’t we pushing gender correctness a little bit too far?
With Ingenium Executive Search having a focus on diversity, I spend a lot of time talking to successful women throughout Europe. Some of them have made the choice not to have children, be it deliberate or not. Others have large, sometimes newly established families.
Being curious by nature (one can always learn), I tend to ask them how they make it work. In some countries this is an inappropriate question but most women don’t mind sharing.
I learned that there are many solutions and work-arounds ranging from a stay-at-home husband to a nanny, from working from home to learning to live with ‘good enough’. Never ever have I heard the remark that their husband felt less responsible for the well-being of the children.
Admitted, it never crossed my mind to ask the same question to a male candidate. Maybe I should…
Although I am a strong believer in sharing the burden, our family follows the ‘traditional pattern’. My husband has a heavy travel schedule, so it is only normal that I carry the bulk of the family management. And yes, I am capable of combining it with running a company. It requires a lot of outsourcing, some patience of candidates and clients when our daughter has a burning question during a call and the willingness to learn to let things be…
But does this automatically have to mean that my husband would feel less responsible as he did not stay home for four weeks when Margot was born?
The question remains: aren’t we pushing it too far.
Academics and women’s rights organisations seem to be convinced that they should assist us in changing our mentality towards work-life balance and the combination of a dual career and a family by setting rules. But would those rules serve their purpose?
Too often, eyebrows are frowned when a woman admits that she does not want to have children for career reasons. Employers are not likely to put men in senior management positions that have expressed the desire to work part-time.
Can rules and regulations really solve that?
Wouldn’t it be more effective to change our mentality towards allowing people to make their own choices when it comes to career and family? What do you think?
I look forward to hearing from you,
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