Parenthood and Paid Work: conflict, compromise and compatibility
Heather Joshi, UCL Institute of Education
Improvements in women’s economic opportunities have tended to be seen as reducing fertility, both in high fertility and low fertility societies, through raising the opportunity cost of having children . This story does not quite fit the experience of post war Britain, where women’s employment has been rising, sometimes at the same time as fertility, which still relatively high by international standards. Motherhood became increasingly combined with employment, though the latter was often secondary to that of the male breadwinner and part-time. This compromise contributed to maintaining the gap in pay between men and women in paid work, especially given the a-symmetric pay differentials of fathers and mothers. Paradoxically the future of fertility in industrial countries is no longer seen as depending on sustaining female economic disadvantage but rather as improving the terms on which both men and women can combine paid work with parenthood.
What do we do about male violence?
Every girl and woman on the planet has either feared experienced men's violence, including rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, forced marriage, prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation, and murder. Yet we tie ourselves up in knots asking 'what we can do to end rape?', without, in the main, admitting that all that needs to happen is that men stop choosing to rape women and girls. Why is it so difficult for many to comprehend that men have no right to abuse women, and that women and girls have every right to resist such violence? Has it always been normalised? Are boys really born with a desire to harm their female counterparts? Or is this to do with that brilliantly old-fashioned concept, 'patriarchy'?