Linda Purrington (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thu, 10 Dec 1998 09:57:16 -0800
The following article makes an interesting--and mistaken--assumption
about women's education and men's domination of the rewards of
education: work. It invites comment.
The Times, London
December 9 1998
Men of future will do chores and childcare,
reports Alexandra Frean
And how was your day, dear?
WOMEN will become the main earners in at
least half of all households by 2020,
according to a report that shows female
workers already earning more than their
partners in nearly a fifth of all couples.
The Family Futures report, commissioned by
the banking group Barclays, also predicts
that the 20 per cent pay gap between men
and women will have disappeared by 2020,
when women will make up half of the
Graeme Leach, the report's author, believes
that the continued "feminisation" of the
workplace will force companies to create a
"mother track" career structure for their
female employees, ensuring that women who
return to work after childbirth do not
compromise their chances of promotion
because they have had children.
He said: "What sense will it make for the
female to give up work, following children,
if her earning power is substantially
higher than her partner's? Post-2020 women
may earn more than men as their flexibility
and organisational skills prove more
attractive to employers."
According to the latest figures from the
Office for National Statistics women earn
80 per cent of the average hourly earnings
of men and only 73 per cent of men's
average weekly earnings. Just 16 per cent
of women earn over 10 per cent more than
their partners, 2 per cent earn between 5
per cent and 10 per cent more and 7 per
cent have equal earnings. Mr Leach, a
futurologist and chief economist at the
Institute of Directors, predicts an
increasing demand from employers for the
He points out that women are already
getting better qualifications than men.
"Since 1990 there has been a 66 per cent
increase in women full-time undergraduates,
compared with a 50 per cent rise for men.
In 1997, 48 per cent of women achieved an
upper second class degree, compared with 40
per cent for men," he said.
One predicted outcome is that men will have
to take on more domestic chores. Despite
the rapid growth in female employment,
women continue to shoulder most household
tasks, including care for the young and old
- a situation that will simply become
untenable as the labour market grows
increasingly competitive.Mr Leach said: "We
will see the end of the late 20th-century
situation whereby women have gone out to
work whilst still retaining the lion's
share of domestic chores as well."
As a way of formalising the new division of
domestic labour, Mr Leach predicts the rise
of "parenting contracts" - signed
agreements between couples stating that
they will remain together until their
children have grown up. The agreements
might also specify how much time each
parent will spend with their children and
which caring tasks they will do.
An increase in home working, particularly
among men, will reinforce the domestication
of fathers. By 2020, Mr Leach predicts that
20 per cent of fathers could be working
from home. The trend is likely to start in
professional families then spread through
These changes may also in part be a
response to a deep-felt malaise among many
of today's fathers. Two thirds of men today
say they want to spend more time with their
children, yet only one in 20 has actually
cut his working week to make this possible.
At least 17 per cent do not see their
children every day.
Family structures will also change
dramatically. There will be fewer children,
as couples become more dependent on two
incomes and the cost in lost career
opportunities grows for women taking time
off to give birth. Women will also choose
to have fewer children and to give birth
later, as they concentrate more on their
Mr Leach also predicts that teenage
children with computer skills may find
part-time work as companies discover the
benefits in using the skills of an
IT-literate generation of youngsters.
One side-effect could be a threat to
parental authority: it would be harder to
discipline a teenager who is helping to
maintain the parents' lifestyle.
Also predicted is the rise of the "Walton
effect" whereby extended families will live
under one roof. The rising cost of caring
for the young and the elderly will make it
sensible for two or three generations of a
family to move in together.
And how was your day, dear?
The changing attitudes to family life
highlighted in Family Futures is
illustrated by the following quotes from
"Be a little gay and a little more
interesting for him. His boring day may
need a lift and one of your duties is to
provide it. Let him talk first - remember,
his topics of conversation are more
important than yours. Remember, he is the
master of the house . . . you have no right
to question him. A good wife always knows
The Good Wife's Guide, a home economics
book from the 1950s
"Remember that there is only one difference
between you. You can bear children. In
every other respect you are equals. The
distribution of responsibilities at home
will inversely reflect responsibilities in
the workplace. If you both work equally
outside the home, then you both should work
equally inside it."
The Good Partner's Guide, a 2020 lifestyle
textbook by Graeme Leach
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