PREJUDICE AGAINST STAY AT HOME MUMS
Stay-at-home mothers are increasingly facing a damaging but unspoken prejudice that assumes they are stupid, lazy and unattractive, a leading child development expert has warned.
Dr Aric Sigman, a biologist and psychologist, said that what he called “motherism” should be tackled as much as other prejudices such as racism.
He told a conference that the rise of derogatory attitudes towards stay-at-home mothers had helped make it socially unacceptable in some circles to argue that children benefit from “full-time” parenting.
Dr Sigman, a fellow of the Society of Biology and associate fellow of the British Psychological Society, has argued in the past that evidence about the long-term effects of sending very young children to full-time day care is being ignored because of a political and economic agenda.
Dr Sigman told the conference:
“The implication is that by being a full-time mother you are ‘subjugated and servile’ and even sexually unattractive once you are a mother – a quality only associated with women who return to work with their high heels and clipboards.”
He added: “I have heard how full-time mothers are described. The tone seems to be that they are not as interesting, that they have taken a step down both socially and intellectually but also in terms of esteem.
“If you applied any other kind of minority group tag to that there would be an outcry.”
Dr Sigman, who has four children, said that the derogatory attitudes towards stay-at-home mothers appeared to be the result of a mix of political and economic agendas.
“I suppose the older feminism, liberal-Left feminism, has ended up a strange bedfellow with Right-wing capitalism.”
Children of working mothers do better, says Harvard Business School study
Working mums have daughters who are better educated and higher earning while their sons do more housework and childcare, according to analysis of gender divisions in 25 developed countries including Australia.
The research, which included Australian figures, revealed that the sons of working mothers spend more time on child care and domestic chores.
Researchers found the division of paid and unpaid work among the children of working parents was likely to lead to more stable marriages.
It included the experiences of more than 50,000 adults from 25 developed counties.
Researchers discovered that the daughters of working mothers completed more years of formal education and were more likely to be employed in senior roles with higher incomes.
Having a working mother did not affect the careers of their sons but they spent more time looking after children and doing housework, according to the analysis.
Across the 25 countries included in the research, 69 per cent of women with a working mother were employed and 22 per cent were supervisors, compared with 66 per cent and 18 per cent for women raised by stay-at-home mums. The daughters of working mothers earned 6 per cent more than those whose mothers did not work outside the home.
Sons of working mothers spent an extra hour caring for children each week than sons of stay-at-home mothers and they devoted an additional 17 minutes per week to housework.
Researchers concluded that male support at home encourages a women’s workforce participation and might lead to more stable marriages.
Australia was ranked in the middle on attitudes to gender, with Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden among the most egalitarian and Chile, Mexico, the Philippines and Russia the most conservative.
Lifting female workforce participation is a key aim of the Abbott government which has promised to make childcare more affordable and accessible for families.
Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that mothers were employed in 66 per cent of couple families with dependent children, although the proportion has increased over the past decade.
Statistics show Australian women are concentrated in casual or part time roles, constituting 25.4 per cent of full time employees.
Pregnancy and birthing are definitely competitive among women and professionals but nothing beats the competitive business of parenting.
Sarah who is a stay at home Mum of a 3yr old gorgeous little boy says other women make extraordinary judgements about why she is staying at home and the negative impact this will ultimately have on her as a person. They then describe in great detail, why they do not stay at home – almost as a way of justification, perhaps to ease the guilt that all parents feel, whether you stay at home or go to work. Even her female architect – a working mother herself – speaks down to her. It makes you wonder what women are doing to each other?
Whilst the above 2 studies are interesting, there is always going to be advantages and disadvantages for everyone – on both sides.
We have just had International Women’s Day and my hope is that all women who are mothers start to support each other. Each woman has made a decision about what she thinks is best for her and her family. This should be acknowledged and most of all respected, by all women.