September 21, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
I’ve written a fair amount about how, despite the hectoring of gender feminists for almost five decades now, men and women still tend to take on roles within male/female relationships that have a distinctly traditional tint to them. When little Andy or Jenny comes into the world, Mom tends to decrease her paid work to do childcare and Dad tends to up his hours to compensate. That goes some way to explain not only women’s lower earnings, but also their lower savings rates, slower advancement in the workplace, etc.
The data on that and a wide variety of studies bear out my conclusions. This analysis of similar information out of Canada and its statistical agency, Statistics Canada, shows much the same thing. Indeed, a simple review of many of the section headings tells the story.
The association of marriage with reduced employment among women has weakened
It’s weakened, but it’s still very much present. I suspect that the reason why that association isn’t what it was in the mid-70s is that marriage is no longer a proxy for having children. As long as that was the case, as it tended strongly to be 40 years ago, married women could be counted on to work less than other women because they had kids and the others tended not to. Now, divorce rates have skyrocketed and out of wedlock childbearing is nearer the norm than the exception.
Employment rate of mothers increases with age of the youngest child
That’s only to be expected. The older the child, the less supervision it requires. Once the child is in school, its primary parent is freed of a lot of hands-on parenting for something like eight hours out of the day. So Mom can start again to work and earn.
Lone female parents have a lower employment rate than both lone male parents and mothers in couples
As I’ve said many times, primary or sole parenting duties make working for a living hard. There are only 24 hours in a day and adults have only so much energy to expend. It’s one of the strongest arguments in favor of shared parenting. When Dad and Mom share parenting time equally, each can establish a work schedule that pays the bills. Absent the other parent’s substantial help, a primary or sole parent finds herself strapped for time. Tellingly, both single mothers and single fathers work and earn less than their married counterparts.
Women perform fewer hours of paid per week on average than men
They do so in significant part because they’re caring for children. The Stats Canada writer admits as much, saying “Women generally perform fewer paid hours than men, as they tend to spend more time on housework and childcare.” The same reason explains women’s increased part-time work.
Women are more likely than men to work part‑time, and the reason most cited by women for working part‑time was caring for children
Some 19% of Canadian women work part-time compared with just 5.5% of men. In the U.S., about 10.1% of women and about 5.4% of men 20 years old and over work part-time. Here as in Canada, more women work part-time due mostly to tending children.
Women’s careers are interrupted more frequently than men’s careers, for longer total durations
Women still tend to have greater responsibility for children and other family members as well as for the smooth functioning of the home. As a result, they are more likely than men to experience work absences and interruptions—both long‑term, scheduled absences related to childbearing and rearing and short‑term, sporadic absences related to a child’s illness or a major household appliance in need of repair.
Again, being the primary caregiver to children means more time off work – sometimes for years – and more short-term absences. As I’ve said many times, that means less earning, less saving and fewer promotions for women who opt for motherhood over paid work.
Women are concentrated in industries that parallel their traditional gender roles at more than double the rate of men
Although breadwinning has become a central and enduring role for most women, their employment often parallels their traditional gender roles of homemaking and caregiving. In other words, what is typically designated as "women’s work" in the private sphere tends to be designated as such in the public sphere as well. Consequently, in 2015, the three industries with the greatest share of women (relative to men) were health care and social assistance (82.4%), educational services (69.3%), and accommodation and food services (58.5%).
Unfortunately, the person writing the Stats Canada publication has clearly been steeped in the lore of gender feminist victimization. That’s why she uses the terminology “what is typically designated ‘women’s work.” I hate to tell her, but no one “designates” any work as either men’s or women’s. Women designate certain work as “women’s” by opting for those jobs; men designate certain work as “men’s” by opting for jobs typically held by men. Certain jobs may be referred to as “women’s” or “men’s” because, overwhelmingly one sex performs them and the other doesn’t. Indeed, patterns of work in Scandinavian countries that allow women the greatest possible freedoms, show greater concentration of women into traditional jobs than we see in more restrictive cultures. When women are free to choose, they tend strongly to choose traditional work. It’s not sinister; it’s just the way things are.
All this is simply to say that, where it’s possible, men and women alike tend to resist the exhortations of feminists and pop culture to cast off their traditional gender roles. My guess is that they’d do it even more if work paid more or prices were lower. That’s another way of saying that much of women’s workplace involvement is due to necessity rather than choice.
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