Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Motherhood Penalty

The Guardian has a great piece up today by Polly Toynbee, "Girlification is Destroying All the Hope We Felt in 1968." By "girlification," Toynbee means pink princessification. I love neologisms on a Tuesday morning.

The article comes on the heels of an announcement from the UK's Office for National Statistics yesterday, which reported that UK women in their 40s earn 20% less per hour than their male counterparts. Explains Toynbee, "This is the motherhood penalty - and the more children a woman has, the wider the gap. Young women start out earning almost the same, deluded by beating boys at exams. Motherhood knocks most out of the running."

The piece goes on to ask, "so, what's new?," noting that 2008 is a year for reflection for her generation of women (aka second wave): "What happened in 1968? What really changed? The year of riots saw feminism ignite too, a year hazed in an illusory miasma that nothing would be the same again - but of course it was."

Depressing. But just in case you aren't depressed enough, Toynbee reminds us too that only 24% of parliamentary seats in the EU are occupied by women, 20% in the UK; and that 90% of top EU company boards are men. Women dominate primary school teaching, men run universities. The UK has the largest pay gap.

On the upside, Spain's new cabinet is 50% female. GO SPAIN! And for more on the connection between pinkification and the mommy gap, read the rest here.


Anonymous said...

Really great article. I read alot of articles pointing out these issues, but where is the feminist ideas about new action for equality.

Deborah Siegel said...

I'm SO with you urbanartiste -- how do we get beyond naming the problem to solving it?

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