March 23 2017
"Lean in"? How about lean on?
Australian columnist Sarrah Le Marquand offers this winning strategy for getting more women into the workforce: Make it illegal to be a stay-at-home mom.
Or actually, since she's Australian, make it illegal to be a stay-at-home mum.
Yes, that's the headline for Le Marquand's latest column for the Sydney Daily Telegraph: "It Should be Illegal to Be a Stay-at-Home Mum."
And she's bluntly upfront about what she wants, which is unconditional surrender in the mommy wars:
Rather than wail about the supposed liberation in a woman’s right to choose to shun paid employment, we should make it a legal requirement that all parents of children of school-age or older are gainfully employed.
And here's the reasoning:
Only when the female half of the population is expected to hold down a job and earn money to pay the bills in the same way that men are routinely expected to do will we see things change for the better for either gender.
Only when it becomes the norm for all families to have both parents in paid employment, and sharing the stress of the work-home juggle, will we finally have a serious conversation about how to achieve a more balanced modern workplace.
Only when the tiresome and completely unfounded claim that “feminism is about choice” is dead and buried (it’s not about choice, it’s about equality) will we consign restrictive gender stereotypes to history.
So long as we as a nation cling to the lie that only a stay-at-home mum is best placed to assume the responsibilities of caregiver then working fathers will continue to feel insecure about stepping off the corporate treadmill to spend more time with their children.
Take that, Sheryl Sandburg!
Le Marquand's demand to arrest and imprison any woman who dares to spend her time baking after-school cookies for Junior and Sophie instead of slaving in a cubicle could become part of U.S. policy as well. The international Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, whose 35 members include the U.S., recently issued a report stating that nations could solve their labor-shortage problems by putting mothers to work full-time. (Part-time jobs, the kind of employment that many women with growing children prefer, apparently don't count in OECD-land.)
The report singled out Australia as a particularly egregious offender in the stay-at-home-mom department. News.com.au reported:
Employment rates of women with children in Australia are 9 per cent lower than those of all prime-aged women, the report declared.
Urging Australia to help this “untapped potential” into the Australian workforce, the OECD recommends the government adopt “facilitation of a better work-life balance” and focus and the provision of affordable childcare.
"Work-life balance"! Whether you like it or not.