Mondays Column: Gender Issues 28.6.10

“Sweetie, get your own tea!  Mummy’s got to finish her report, then knee her ‘touchy feely’ boss in the groin.”

Recently an old friend was reminiscing about her first job as a secretary on a construction site back in the 1960’s.  Women in industry were a real rarity, and she wistfully recalled how the workers would wolf whistle at her as she struggled to get in and out of her Mini Moke whilst wearing a miniskirt.  Boy, those days are certainly over now!  I haven’t seen a Moke in years… 

Today there are more women in the workforce than at any other time in our country’s history, but working mums still do the lion’s share of domestic duties at home.  In effect, they are working two full-time jobs, but only get paid for one.   

On the way into work the other night, I passed a friend who had been working late, and as I glanced at my watch in surprise she gave me a harried look, “I know, I know! And my family haven’t stopped calling wanting to know where their tea is!”  As she rocketed past, her phone started ringing, and it occurred to me that her male co-workers wouldn’t be dashing home to cook tea.  Strolling through the gates I started crooning, “Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman…” 

The next day I chanced to see Elizabeth Broderick, the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, on tele talking about women in the workplace, and it was an education.  Women not only continue to earn less than their male counterparts, but lately the gap has been widening.  Approximately a quarter of women are sexually harassed at work.  Very few of them get promoted to upper level management positions, and nearly all of them are expected to sacrifice their careers and promotion prospects to have children, or to look after aging parents.  Many of our nation’s best workers are trapped at home mopping up drool, and risking brain damage from listening to Wiggles songs ad nauseum.

That night when Long Suffering Wife finally got home from work, I tried to tell her what I had learned, but couldn’t get a word in as she dumped the groceries on the counter, yelled at the kids to start their homework, put tea on, and herded the dogs outside whilst gathering up my empty coffee mugs and chip packets. 

As I toddled off to the beer fridge I decided that she’d just have to wait to learn about how unfair her working life is.

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