Women's Role Between Work and Family
Search for the Right Balance Goes On
NEW YORK, MARCH 13, 2006 (Zenit) - Wednesday's celebration of International Women's Day brought with it the customary pleas for greater equality. The anniversary also provided the occasion for the publication of a number of studies on women's issues.
During a meeting held Feb. 27 at the U.N. headquarters in New York the Inter-Parliamentary Union presented the results of a study on the participation of women in politics. The Geneva-based organization noted that there are now 20 parliaments where the proportion of women exceeds 30%.
Of these 20 countries, 10 are in Europe and five in Africa. The remaining five comprise Iraq and several countries in Latin America. In a message released Wednesday, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan noted that there are now 11 women as heads of state or government.
Regarding women's role in the economy, the European Commission on Feb. 24 released a study showing that women in the European Union earn 15% less than men. The report also drew attention to the difficulty that many women face in achieving a satisfactory balance between work and family life. Women in Europe account for 32% of managers, and comprise just 10% of members of the boards. Only 3% of chief executive officers of larger enterprises are women.
Norway's response to this situation is a law recently approved that requires women to occupy 40% of board positions within the next two years. In a Jan. 12 article on the new law, the New York Times noted that while women have achieved a certain prominence in European political life, they are very under-represented at the top business levels. Of the top 30 companies of the German stock exchange, for example, only one board member is a woman.
Call of motherhood
But while discrimination no doubt still exists, the lack of women at the top also reflects deliberate decisions to dedicate time to another important role, namely, motherhood. On Jan. 6 the London-based Times newspaper reported on the decision of Phoebe Philo to resign her position as creative director of the French fashion house Chloé, in order to spend more time with her 1-year-old daughter, Maya. Philo, 32, was named British Designer of the Year in 2004.
Sunday Times commentator India Knight, in a piece written two days later, observed that a number studies on child care reveal problems with leaving youngsters in institutions while their mothers go off to work.
Knight also suggested that instead of "mumbling about patriarchy," women should ask themselves some tough questions about whether it is possible to have a career (as opposed to just a job) and to raise small children at the same time.
She also commented that women "need to feel pleased and proud of themselves for choosing, if that is what they want, to stay at home looking after their babies." Other women, she added, should stop making those who choose to dedicate themselves to motherhood feel as if they were "pathetic or boring."
In fact, women's participation in the U.S. labor force has declined slightly in recent years, the New York Times reported March 2. The peak was hit in 2000, when 77% of women aged 25 to 54 were in the work force. The figure today is around 75%.
Suzanne Bianchi, a sociologist at the University of Maryland, noted that in addition to using child care, women who worked outside the home slept less than those who were not employed, and in general faced serious time-management problems. "Perhaps time has been compressed as far as it will go," Bianchi suggested.
Attitudes also might be changing among younger women. An increasing number of women studying in the nation's most prestigious colleges say that they are willing to put aside their careers in favor of raising children, the New York Times reported Sept. 20. The opinions came out in interviews with Ivy League students.
The newspaper observed that data from a number of other surveys on work-force participation by college graduates showed in past years many women expected to have top-flight careers, but reduced their expectations after having children. By contrast, women in the current generation of students already expect their careers to take second place to child rearing.
The change in expectations may lead, in fact, to greater contentment, reported the Australian newspaper last Sept. 29. The paper summarized the findings of a research paper, "Does Part-Time Work Make the Family Happy," authored by Jan van Ours and Alison Booth.
"Australian couples are happiest when men are working full time," van Ours said. She commented that when a man works full time, a woman has a choice about whether to go to work, especially if she has children. For their part, women were happiest with their working lives when working 21 to 34 hours a week.
These findings were confirmed by a recently published survey titled, "What's Love Got to Do With It? Equality, Equity, Commitment and Women's Marital Quality." The study, written by Bradford Wilcox and Steven Nock, from the University of Virginia, was published in the March issue of the journal Social Forces.
They started by noting how many family scholars argue that "egalitarian marriages" make for high-quality, stable unions. The egalitarian model, with husband and wife sharing responsibilities and both having careers, contrasts with the older model of marriage in which women tended to remain at home.
Recent research, however, on the link between marital equality and marital quality is mixed, they note. In fact, a number of studies found that more women in the older, more traditional type of marriages are happier.
Looking at the reasons behind these results, Wilcox and Nock observe that today one crucial factor behind a successful marriage is achieving emotional support between the spouses.
Men who are committed to the more traditional form of marriage may "feel a greater moral responsibility than other men to signal their belief in the sanctity of marriage by investing emotionally in their marriages."
Happiness in marriage, and a greater responsibility, is also greater when the couples are involved in the community, have extended-family relationships, and are active in organized religion.
And, in contrast to the frequent pleas for men to share more equally with women in household tasks, the study argued that "objective inequality in the division of household labor does not always lead to perceptions of inequity, and consequently feelings of marital unhappiness, on the part of women."
"Women are not happier in marriages marked by egalitarian practices and beliefs," the study concluded. In fact, they noted that departing from the model of a male-breadwinning/female-homemaking model may well account for declines in marital quality.
The findings chime in with points raised in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. Nos. 145-147 insist on the importance of equality and of guaranteeing for women equal dignity. They also observe that men and women complement each other and that in the union between a man and a woman "love and solidarity" is needed, not the "logic of self-centeredness and self-affirmation."
In Nos. 248-51 the Compendium insists on a broader approach to the theme of family and work. Rather than talking about individual careers, it dwells on the importance of a family wage, which will enable the whole family to live decently. Instead of focusing on individual rights, the key to lasting fulfillment might be in a well-balanced family life.
https://www.catholic.org CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000
woman, Family, Work
More Catholic PRWire
Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718
A Recession Antidote
Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell
Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell
Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Franchising to Evangelize
Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Three words to a deeper faith
Relections for Lent 2009
Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell
World Food Program Director on Lent
Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Glimpse of Me
The 3 stages of life
Sex and the Married Woman
A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Modernity & Morality
Just a Minute
Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Edging God Out
Burying a St. Joseph Statue
George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell
Easter... A Way of Life
Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
by Catholic Online
- Daily Reading for Wednesday, March 21st, 2018 HD Video
- Stem cell study provides new hope for MS patients
- 'Living Lent': Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent - Day 35
- International study shows stem cells can stop MS and relieve symptoms ...
- Daily Readings for Tuesday, March 20, 2018
- Pope Francis explains a crucifix is not just for decoration
- Bl. John of Parma: Saint of the Day for Tuesday, March 20, 2018
- Daily Reading for Tuesday, March 20th, 2018 HD
- Daily Reading for Monday, March 19th, 2018 HD
- Daily Reading for Sunday, March 18th, 2018 HD
- The Earth is Dying: Human impact continues to shape the future of the planet HD
Learn about Catholic world
Inform - Inspire - Ignite
Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained
Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need
Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online
Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye
Today's bible reading
Products and services we offer
Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books
The California Network
Inspiring streaming service
Learn the Catholic way
Teacher lesson plans & resources
Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education