real life

What women need: a wife!

Here’s an idea: the answer to the need for more women on boards and at senior level positions? A quota for more men to become ‘wives’ by 2015.

Yes, this is a stereo-typed portrayal of a house husband. But how cute is that baby? [‘Breakfast with Fred’ image by plinky
Annabel Crabba column for The Drum

Annabel Crabb

“For all of our agonising about workplace culture, professional pathways, mentoring, partnerships for success and whatnot, it’s as plain as dog’s bollocks that the main reason women are under-represented in the senior echelons of just about any professional field is that they hardly ever have wives.

Gender-inclusive language and women-only fun runs are perfectly fine, but show me a female executive who wouldn’t trade them for someone who makes the kids’ lunches, is capable of composing a believable robot costume using tissue boxes and toilet rolls, and changes the sheets a couple of times a week to boot, and I’ll show you a very unusual lady.

Wives are the reason men can work long hours as executives, succeed in politics, edit newspapers, run their own small businesses, work in mines or other shift work, and still manage to have families.

And the bad news for chicks who are in the market for wives?

There’s a definite skill shortage.

Why? Not because the job of running a home and raising children isn’t a lot like other jobs, aside from the pay issue; brilliant some days, infuriating on others.

The problem is that it’s still just as hard for men to get out of paid work as it has been – historically – for women to get into it.

After a long hard slog, paid parental leave for women is starting to become accepted.

Paid parental leave for men – hell, any sort of leave beyond the routine two weeks of patting and burping that most working new Dads in this country take – is still something of an exotic event.

[image by Plinky]

[You can read her whole column here at The Drum]

She goes on to note that in the decade she’s worked in federal Parliament, she has witnessed a procession of female politicians struggling to balance the demands of their jobs with the needs of their young families. So in many cases, they choose not to seek out cabinet ministerial positions. Similarly, many of the women who DO rise through the ranks don’t have children – Julia Gillard, Julie Bishop, Amanda Vanstone – or have kids who are grown up.

She also notes that Joe Hockey is the first male MP to have taken formal paternity leave. His wife is a senior banker and they have three small kids.

This isn’t just an issue of politics though. Do you think it’s possible for women with families to reach those high level jobs and positions without a ‘wife’ or decent support on the homefront? Not to knock blokes. There are plenty who pull their weight around the house and with their kids.

But the majority of that stuff is still done by women, regardless of what paid work they’re doing outside the home.

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