Sunday, 9 January 2011

It's (still) a man's world

Blame it on the popularity of Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs. The heady stew of crinoline and corsets has got people regressing back to the good old days, when men were men, and women had to leave the room to blow their nose. 

Whilst millions of people peered through their fingers at the depiction of a world where the 'help' had to ask permission to swoon in front of their employer, the editorial team at the Daily Mail was hanging out the celebratory bunting at the fond memories it brought back.  So perhaps we shouldn't be too surprised that this nostalgia for the way things used to be, has inspired them to ramp up their campaign for a return to old-fashioned values. 

Take women in the workplace for example. In the Mail's eyes, women serve two purposes - scribbling poisonously homophobic columns, or cleaning the offices once the journalists have gone to the bar. So they're delighted to discover that women don't really want to be working anyway. According to a new survey, they'd rather be raising kids, so that Mr Big can go out and earn the big bucks. 

Across the country Champagne corks are popping, as beleaguered bosses are realising that they can finally throw out all those diversity training handbooks. No need to worry about how many women hold a place on the board; they're happier cleaning up yellow shit. 

Let's all raise a glass to Dr Catherine Hakim, who's produced incontrovertible evidence that ladies have no business in the workplace. Her research on behalf of the Centre for Policy Studies shows that "men dominate the top positions because women simply do not want careers in business". Glad someone cleared that up. 

Instead, the majority of women prefer to "marry up", finding a husband who brings home a bigger pay packet. Rather shockingly, more women feel this way than in the 1940s. Although I'm not sure how many women would have dared to imagine that they might earn more than their partners 70 years ago. 

Dr Hakim states that "Research evidence consistently shows that most husbands are the main bread winners in their family and that most mothers would prefer not to have competing demands of family work and paid jobs." She would have said more, but she had to get home to put the dishwasher on. 

Political implications aside, this is yet another academic study designed to confirm what everybody already knows. Given the choice, I'm sure most people would be happy to keep the whisky decanter topped up, leaving the hard graft to their significant other. 

It's interesting that no-one seems to have conducted a similar study, asking how the husbands of major female breadwinners feel. I'm prepared to bet the keys to the executive washroom that they're perfectly happy hitting the golf course, leaving the Mrs to bring home the bacon. Hasn't anyone seen Mr Mom?

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