Women’s Jobs Are Always More Flexible Than Men’s

I have always been very interested in the dynamics of marriage, as someone who is unsure if she will ever marry, and even more interested in the dynamics of child-rearing, as someone who is positive that she will never have children (if this seems backward to you, just remember that as an early twenties female, I must constantly defend myself in choosing to be childfree–I must always have an argument on hand as to why I don’t want kids when everyone knows all a woman can possibly want is to be a mother).

This article in the New York Times on shared parenting is very interesting. It covers a lot of the general gender inequities that can be found in parenting and marriage–the way women, regardless of whether or not they work the same number of hours as men, will do twice as much house work and up to four or five times as much childcare–as well as some of the more subtle ingrained perceptions.

For example, when two working people choose to have a child, it is generally the woman who scales back her career involvement. This is partially, of course, because of the social expectation that the mother should be the main caregiver, but also because there is a perception that it is the women who have the more flexible career. However, the article observes that

the perception of flexibility is itself a matter of perception. In her study, she was struck by how often the wife’s job was seen by both spouses as being more flexible than the husband’s. By way of example she describes two actual couples, one in which he is a college professor and she is a physician and one in which she is a college professor and he is a physician. In either case, Deutsch says “both the husband and wife claimed the man’s job was less flexible.”

Two jobs. Flip which gender is working it, and the woman is still the more flexible one.
The article goes on to cover the misconceptions about the idea of “differing standards” between men and women in regards to childcare and housekeeping, the idea of conscientious division of labor, and more.

Over all, I highly recommend the article, as it is some very interesting food for thought on marriage, parenting, division of labor, and general social and personal dynamics. Well-written and thought-provoking. I would love to hear some other peoples’ thoughts on this!

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06/12/2008. Uncategorized.

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