As it’s my very first post (ever, anywhere!), I thought it would be apt to come at it from a woman’s angle.
I have read two articles recently, both in the Times (and thus you need to pay for them – but I attach the links at the bottom of this post anyway.
The first is a piece about Generation Y Mothers (Sarah Harris, July 10). There isn’t much in the way of hard facts, but the content rings true – that Generation Y women are less career-orientated and approaching motherhood at an earlier age than the Gen X’ers and late Boomers before them.
Tom Savigar, strategy and insight director for the Future Laboratory says “Generation Y has decided to do things differently. Younger women have rejected the city-slicker aspirations of the previous decade and are now seeing the value of becoming a housewife as a career.”
The second piece is by Sarah Vine (July 12,) and focusses on the dilemma 35-45 year old (Cusper/Gen X) working women are now facing, with young children and careers that are taking off. This really struck home with me as I am one of these women and have just left my full-time career, which has been 20 years in making, to find a more flexible way of working and devote more time to my family. Frankly, the juggling just became too much and clearly I am far from being alone.
I have been pondering the possible implications of these two articles, and assuming the trends they describe are real (and certainly the You Gov research contained within Cristina Odone’s paper “What Women Want” for the CCPC is clear that a whopping 31% of mothers would rather not work at all – then they could be far reaching and many.
My generation of women was raised to have a career. This was something previous generations had fought hard for and we were the first fortunate generation to see as our ‘right’. It never occurred to me or any of my contemporaries to do anything than go out and get a job. So we have progressed through our adult lives with a strong degree of financial independence and, by and large, a relationship ‘of equals’ with our partners.
Many of us have now found we have to adjust to a reduced income and greater reliance on our partners. I am fortunate in that ‘family income’ is seen as just that and I don’t expect my relationship with my husband to change markedly, although I have seen it happen. We Gen X’ers should, on the whole, be able to preserve our ‘equal’ status, although, one could argue that the sacrifices to home life and fertility have been great.
The Gen Ys have seen all this and the Gen Zs are living through it now. Our young women and daughters take their equality for granted and we bring them up to do just that. But what if they never work? How will this impact on the relationships between the genders in the next 50 years? How will women preserve their equality if they do not ever have financial independence? And how will this impact the economy?
Sarah Vine describes research by Gosta Esping-Andersen, a Danish academic, which calculates that 15 new jobs are created for every 100 women that works. These tend to be in childcare, cleaning and other support services, so, jobs for other women. If this is correct, then the ability for an economy to grow with women coming out of the workforce is surely hampered.