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Stay at home or go to work? Lock Rss

I found this article really interesting. Just thought I'd share it.

'New wives' opt for home life

Is the ideal of the superwoman dead? Since the 1960s, women have been told that they can have it all - high-powered career, husband and happy family.
But after watching their mothers juggle these roles with varying degrees of success, Australian women at the top end of the job pool are deserting the corporate jungle and returning to the kitchen and nursery in droves.

Census data shows the number of university-educated women with partners and children who have dumped paid work more than doubled in WA in the decade to 2001.
The WA figures mirror a national trend, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. In 1991, just over 35,000 university-educated women with partners and children described themselves as outside the paid workforce. In 2001, that figure had skyrocketed to almost 70,000, reflecting a new social trend as well as the increasing number of women with degrees. And it is not just a case of women spending a few months at home after baby is born - about half will not return to paid work until their children are at school and a minority will become so comfortable in domestic bliss that they will never return.

So, does this mean that after decades of trying to compete with men in the corporate jungle, women have put up the white flag, retreating from the workplace in the flick of an apron and a whiff of muffin mix?

Not likely, says social researcher Hugh Mackay, who believes that the new age home mum has little in common with the 1950s gingham-frocked, floury-handed housewife.

According to Mr Mackay, the trend is a reaction among young women who do not want to go down the same path as their own mothers. They had grown up with two working parents and realised they did not want to become the frazzled person their mother was.

While women in their 40s and 50s saw earning their own money as the key to independence, younger women believed independence was all about having choice - whether that was working, staying home or a bit of both, Mr Mackay said.

"Their mothers saw themselves as revolutionaries and pioneers who made these choices possible for their daughters, but their daughters are not at all grateful," he said. "They are critical of their mothers for leading absurdly stressful lives and they do not see that as liberation."

A story aired on 60 Minutes last month told the same tale - that many young women valued a balanced life above corporate success.

Susan Shapiro Barash, a professor of gender studies in New York, said women who had grown up with the idea that they could do it all were the most disenchanted women she interviewed. They were disappointed in their marriages, themselves, the glass ceiling at work and the time they had missed with their children.

She had coined the term "new wife" to describe modern stay-at- home women who were liberated but did not want to work to the point of exhaustion at an office and then face a second shift at home.

Edith Cowan University academic Elizabeth Reid Boyd said there had been a change of thinking in the past decade, with more people recognising the value of having a parent at home in a child's early years.

This had been reflected in popular culture, from an abundant number of cooking shows celebrating the domestic goddess to Hollywood movies like The Stepford Wives.
However, this idealisation was misleading, Dr Reid Boyd, a former director of the WA Centre for Research for Women, said.
Apart from feeling cut off from the adult world, women out of the workforce for four or five years could find it very difficult to re-enter it because their skills were out of date and they did not understand new technology.

Also, it was not an option for all - women who took several years off work were likely to be married to a man on an above-average salary.

"It is a choice being made by people who can afford to make that choice - it is not necessarily the same for everybody," Dr Reid Boyd said.

"It has become more acceptable as an idea to stay at home but the reality is that there are a lot of women still working. The superwoman was a myth but the lady of leisure is also a myth. They are both ideas that disguise the reality of the hard work women do. It is hard being at home as well - ask any woman who is doing it."

Why less is more and how babes beat bosses

With a university degree and a stint working in London under her belt, Angeline Gavranic has good professional credentials for a woman in her twenties.

But instead of using her skills to climb the corporate ladder, the 27-year-old former financial adviser is much happier knee-deep in nappies and watching daytime cartoons at her Palmyra home.

Mrs Gavranic gave up paid work just before her daughter Gabriella was born six months ago and does not plan to set foot in an office for the next five years, especially if she and her husband, Jason, have more children.

Her friend Natalie Nicolaou, a mother of two toddlers, also has no desire to return to work for several years. After giving up a job as a secretary, the 29-year-old said she would consider returning to work part-time when her boys went to school.

The Perth women are part of the new generation of stay-at-home mums - women with good job prospects who would rather go without a second income than miss a minute of their children's early development.

"I feel I can always go back to work but I can't go back to their first years because they grow so quickly," Mrs Nicolaou said.

Mrs Gavranic said she was lucky that her husband had a good job as a civil engineer, although they had to make some sacrifices to live on a single income, cutting luxuries such as expensive dinners out.

Another downside was a reduced social life, particularly because many friends were working during the day.

However, both women felt the positives outweighed the negatives.

"Because I am at home, I do things like the housework and the shopping during the week so when it comes to the weekend, I am not rushing around and we spend more time as a family," Mrs Gavranic said.

"I end up spending more quality time with my husband."

July 22, 2004

© 2004 West Australian Newspapers Limited
All Rights Reserved.
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mum of 3

Another nice LONG post that some may wish to read. It was written a few years ago...

Whataheart - Girls16/1/00, 28/4/05 & 04/09/08

The Perth women are part of the new generation of stay-at-home mums - women with good job prospects who would rather go without a second income than miss a minute of their children's early development.

thats me in a nutshell

well apart from the perth bit smile

Steph VIC Mummy to one gorgeous boy

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