The long night of modern feminism might be about to end. A glimmer of light is flickering in the encircling gloom.
A study published this week by Dr Catherine Hakim of the London School of Economics has found that men do slightly more work than the women they live with when employment and domestic work are measured together.
Equal opportunity policies, in regards to women’s access to the labour market in the UK, have been successful. Despite this, many politicians and feminists appear disappointed with the slow pace of change in women’s attainment of top jobs. Sex differences are treated as self- evident proof of widespread sex discrimination and sex-role stereotyping rather than the result of personal choices and preferences. Thus, calls to smash the glass ceiling, to eliminate the pay gap and to end sex differentials are regularly heard in Parliament and from supranational organisations, academia and the media. But these demands for further change rest on faulty assumptions and outdated or partial evidence. For the latest academic research and cross-national comparative studies show that most of the theories and ideas built up around gender equality in the last few decades are wrong. Despite feminist claims, the truth is that most men and women have different career aspirations and priorities. Men and women often have different life-goals and policy makers should therefore not expect the same job outcomes.
Women grappling with the overwhelming pressure for perfection that can wreak havoc in their lives need to realise that the notion of "having it all" is largely a myth, women's movement icon Gloria Steinem told eating disorder clinicians at an annual meeting in the US. Women have made huge strides in the workplace over the past several decades, but with no reduction in their amount of responsibility for child-rearing and household duties, she said. Steinem told the group of several hundred attendees, many of them psychologists, physicians and nutritionists, that women cannot "have it all" unless and until men have an equal role in rearing children.
The claim came after an ombudsman's report found bureaucrats guilty of "unreasonable and wrong administrative action" after failing to correct false and misleading information that promoted the idea men were overwhelmingly responsible for domestic violence.
Feminists are wrong to claim that men should do a larger share of the housework and childcare because on average, men and women already do the same number of hours of productive work. In fact, if we consider the hours spent doing both paid work and unpaid household, care and voluntary work together, men already do more than their fair share, argues LSE sociologist Catherine Hakim in a special issue of Renewal: a journal of social democracy. Until recently, unpaid work such as childcare and domestic work has been hard to quantify and so mostly ignored by social scientists and policy makers. The development of Time Use Surveys across the European Union, however, has provided data on exactly how much time we spend carrying out both paid and unpaid productive activities. The findings show that on average women and men across Europe do the same total number of productive work hours once paid jobs and unpaid household duties are added together - roughly eight hours a day. Catherine Hakim said: ‘We now have a much more specific and accurate portrait of how families and individuals divide their “work” and this data overturns the well-entrenched theory that women work disproportional long hours in jobs and at home in juggling family and work. Feminists constantly complain that men are not doing their fair share of domestic work. The reality is that most men already do more than their fair share.’