Getting tired of saying it

Getting tired of saying it

It's more likely that, in the case of a young family deciding that one parent should work shorter hours, it will be the woman who reduces her workload

Rachel Haynes

Friday, 10 March 2023, 01:00


It gets a bit repetitive to say the same thing every year on 8 March. Feminism, equality, glass ceilings, power....

Last weekend this newspaper carried a report on how much less women earn than men. This was probably a similar figure to last year's and the one before that. And the detail is the same: it's not a question of employers just paying women less; it's a question of women doing worse paid jobs. Why? Because a woman's climb up the executive ladder is still limited by assumptions (among men and women) that the woman will be the one to take a step back from work when children come along. Perhaps no one says it out loud - Spain has come along in leaps and bounds in the last few years, equating paternity and maternity leave - however if you do a quick count up in your workplace or your neighbourhood, it's more likely that, in the case of a young family deciding that one parent should work shorter hours, it will be the woman who reduces her workload. A father reducing his working hours to look after children is a possibility, so why don't we see more of it? Because he earns more than his wife, perhaps, and the vicious circle goes round again. Add to that - again not admitted but all the same existent - attitudes in some workplaces when a male worker asks to go part time to look after his children, or to leave work to fetch a poorly child from school one day. “Why can't your wife do it?”

Equality measures are in place but until that question no longer slips into the minds of employers and colleagues, the equality is more theory than practice.

The Spanish government is bringing in more gender quotas, not just to governments, but also to large companies. Shouldn't it be that with equal opportunities, the best will get to the top, regardless of their gender?

If women can do high powered jobs as well as (or even better than) men, then they ought to be in top roles now, of their own merit. But it's not happening. Women still need a leg up, a reassurance from their family and friends and society in general that it's all right to follow their ambitions, that they don't need to worry that they're abandoning their homes any more than their male partners do. In the same way society should support and not criticise a father who chooses to stay at home with the kids.

I expect we'll be repeating the same arguments next year, fighting against ingrained attitudes in a society that still says: “A woman shouldn't be walking home late by herself as it's not safe”, rather than, “It should be safe for a woman to walk home late by herself.” But that's another battle to bring up again next year.


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