Friday, March 16, 2007

Women's Troubles

"I'm angry today" I told my colleague. "Is it women's troubles?" he asked, trying to be sympathetic. "Nooo, IT IS NOT" I screeched.

But actually it was women's troubles - of the less fluctuating kind. It had hit me. The workforce isn't fair for women. Amongst most of my friends, the women are in lower paid, lower status positions than their male counterparts. I am slightly apprehensive about this because I will be needing to find work when I get back to Australia. Well-meaning men suggest that I think about "flexible" work choices in case I become a mother in the next five years, but why should I do something I'm not passionate about just because I'm a woman? Even my female friends who are doctors or lawyers are encouraged to think about "mother-friendly" options when they do further training.

And now that some of my friends have babies, I've realised that the workforce really doesn't cater adequately for mothers. Those on contracts, and working for private corporations, are provided with little or no maternity/paternity leave, thus perpetuating the idea that mothers (or active parents in general) aren't valued members of the workforce. In an act of solidarity, my colleague found an article in the Guardian that confirms my deepest fears (http://www.guardian.co.uk/gender/story/0,,2023776,00.html). It reveals the findings of a UK Government report - that women with children are the most discriminated group in the workplace, forced to choose in many subtle and not-so-subtle ways between baby and work.

I realise I don't speak for all women. Some are happy to focus fully on baby and others are happy to focus fully on career. Some have the means to do both. But for the majority, policy and public opinion need to improve. So, let's not get mad, let's get even...I mean equal.

1 comment:

Jane said...

Hi Aletia, I hate that 'is it women's troubles' line!! I agree - I was just reading in the Syd.Morning Herald the other day that Norway (or Sweden?) gives 16 months paid maternity leave to all mothers regardless of work arrangements (casual, contract, permanent), and also gives a couple of months paid paternity leave too. That's pretty amazing considering how only some women in some work get paid maternity leave in Aus. Seems like workplace culture is slowly changing in Government (and Uni's) re flexible work options..but slowly, and unfortunately it doesn't seem to be happening so much outside these areas. Yep, it's certainly not an easy one! Jane