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What do women really want?

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Mark Easton | 12:21 UK time, Friday, 9 October 2009

British women, we are told today, are rejecting the materialistic model. The overwhelming majority would like to give up their careers and dedicate themselves to motherhood and, one suspects, the occasional budget apple pie.

Putting clothes in Washing Machine, Housewife, 1990This is the conclusion from Cristina Odone's report What women want ...and how they can get it [230Kb PDF] published by the Centre for Policy Studies (and linked to at its blog).

But reading the document, I do wonder whether this is polemic dressed up as research. The evidence for Ms Odone's argument is a YouGov poll which asked people whether they would work full-time if they didn't need the money.

She interprets the findings as proof that women "regard masculine materialist values as ultimately dissatisfying and reject a system fuelled by consumption".

Is that right?

The conclusion from the poll data could be quite the reverse: that women are working more than ever before because they absolutely buy into the materialistic model.

Far from rejecting it, millions are choosing to hand over some responsibility for the care of their children so they can earn enough money to participate fully in consumerist Britain.

The pollsters asked:

If it is/were not essential for you to work for financial reasons would you work full-time, part-time or not at all?

Seven out of 10 women said that even if they didn't need the money, they would want to work at least part-time. 15% said they'd want a full-time job while 25% said they would stop working entirely.

But the key to understanding the response is what people took to mean by the word "essential".

Does essential mean only what is required to put food in bellies and roofs over heads?

Or is it essential to have two incomes in order to pay a big mortgage? Or to afford that new car? Or a foreign holiday?

As a nation, we are almost three times richer now than when today's pensioners were starting a family. That affluence has transformed our way of life.

So the real question for most women may not be whether they want to give up work and look after the kids, but whether they would be prepared to forego some of the trappings of 21st Century lifestyle in order to be a full-time mum.

What would be really interesting would be to get an idea of priorities and sacrifice, but the question was never asked.

We cannot tell whether the 71% of women who say they'd continue working would do so because they love their job or because they enjoy the extra spending power.

The poll also poses a hypothetical question:

Imagine a family with a mother, working father and two children under five. Assuming it is not absolutely essential for financial reasons for both parents to work do you think it is best for the mother to...

Two little children, you don't need the money, should Mummy go out to work full-time?

Virtually no-one thought she should, but 50% of women still thought it would be best for her to get a part-time job.

This is cited as proof of the "rejection of work-centred culture".

The report argues that the poll findings "call into question government initiatives such as wrap-around schools and day care centres that have cost £21bn since Labour came to power". Ms Odone also cites an "income tax system that penalises single-earner couples with children".

All these policies are symptomatic of an attitude found right across the political spectrum: that paid work is regarded as the most important activity that we, as a society, engage in.

To challenge this attitude is regarded as highly subversive - a female heresy whose proponents must be condemned and punished.

The establishment should stop forcing women into a mould, and allow them instead to realise their ambitions.

It is a shame that the poll questions almost appear to have been framed to fit the argument rather than in the spirit of open-minded inquiry.

The central statement - "What Women Want" - is arresting but the survey never asks women what they do want.

Ms Odone might be right. Women may effectively be forced labourers, bullied and pushed to the coal-face by a government and a society that doesn't understand their domestic, maternal and caring instincts.

But it could be that they have made a free choice: to work full- or part-time in order, as they see it, to improve the standard of living for themselves and their children. Maybe some women prefer to have a life beyond toddler club and the changing mat.

Perhaps government and society are adjusting to a generation of women who demand more than a straight choice between children and a career.

I fear we shall have to wait for another report before we get the answer.

Update 1623: Thanks to commenter nottoonear for pointing out a slight inaccuracy - now corrected.


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  • 1. At 1:06pm on 09 Oct 2009, nottoonear wrote:

    Why this incessant confusion between women and mothers?

    Are all men considered to be fathers?

    There are fathers who work part-time or are stay at home fathers - why do these ridiculous reports ignore them?

    So now ALL men are materialistic and ALL women want to bake apple pie - absolute rubbish!

    People are individuals who make choices for themselves and are responsible for those decisions. I don't want to choose for anyone else, just for myself. Please stop equating women with mothers and men with not-a-care-in-the-world materialists.

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  • 2. At 1:07pm on 09 Oct 2009, grumpyoldman58 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 3. At 1:38pm on 09 Oct 2009, Ernie wrote:

    What does anyone want?

    Enough money not to have to work and be able to dedicate all of their time to family, friends, creative endeavours and hobbies.

    Women are privileged in that they are even being asked about this. I notice that men are presumed to love work and love material gain.

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  • 4. At 1:51pm on 09 Oct 2009, LippyLippo wrote:

    It'a real case of 'be careful what you wish for'. Women's groups have fought for equality in the jobs market, equality with sexual relationships, equality in behaving just as badly as some men. Now they've (mostly) got it, they are discovering that it's not all it's cracked up to be! I'm sure if they could afford it, gave up work and looked after the children full-time, many would get fed up with that too. It's a daft question really, as yoou can never come up with an answer that everyone culd accept. Some like work, some hate it, some just do it because they have to... exactly the same as us men.

    In the context of today's society, I think 'essential' means something different to its literal meaning. You can of course live without a mobile phone, a car, expensive clothes and food, holidays, a house etc., but it's natural to compare oneself with those around you and with what you see and hear. As we are drenched the whole time with images of monied consumption, that is what people (not just women) will vie for.

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  • 5. At 1:57pm on 09 Oct 2009, Doctor Bob wrote:

    No matter what the findings, if Cameron's wish to mend "broken Britain" is to be realised then family must take centre stage with one parent being available to bring up children. I doubt many parents even begin to know their children and vice versa so how they can cohesively be part of a community is anyone's guess.

    Besides, "materialist Britian" is risible - the lives of people who subscribe to it are spent shifting as much of the contents of the local mall to their homes then, when space runs out, moving stuff to the rubbish tip. All for what? You can't take the stuff with you when your number comes up.

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  • 6. At 2:08pm on 09 Oct 2009, Carlotaallen wrote:

    I believe it is an error to assume that all women are compelled to work by materialist values. I am sure many are driven by ambition, a desire to achieve, to create, to improve, to leave a mark on the world.... I have a wine-estate here in Spain which I run single-handedly and a 15 month old son. Juggling the two as any mother will understand is difficult and tiring, but workable. Whilst I love my son above anything else, I see no incompatibility between being a mother and a business owner and I would never give up my dream of making wine and of one day passing on to my son a successful enterprise. What makes me get out of bed is the desire to do something well and I´m sure many women feel the same way.

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  • 7. At 2:36pm on 09 Oct 2009, DisgustedOfMitcham2 wrote:

    An excellent and thoughtful blog, Mark.

    This is a splendid demonstration of one of the big dangers of research based on questionnaires: the entire interpretation of the results hinges on the way the questions are asked, with very subtle changes in the question potentially making a big difference.

    It's also a good illustration of why, if questionnaires are to be used for serious scientific research, it is important that they be carefully validated to ensure they give the answers you think they give. I'm sure that wasn't done here.

    Of course, it's not just the questions asked at individual points in the questionnaire, but the whole context of the questionnaire. I suspect the definition of "essential to work for financial reasons" had been subtly moulded by the time respondents got to the first question you mentioned. I find it surprising that more people didn't say they wouldn't work at all. I would certainly not be at work if I didn't need to.

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  • 8. At 2:48pm on 09 Oct 2009, nottoonear wrote:

    "Seven out of 10 women said that even if they didn't need the money, they would want to work at least part-time. A quarter said they'd want a full-time job while 27% said they would stop working entirely."

    Shouldn't that read MEN not women?

    Or does M and F stand for mothers and fathers? And if it does, why say women rather than mothers?

    All in all the only really difference seems to be that there are 10% more males OR mothers who would prefer to work fulltime than the corresponding 10% of females or fathers who would prefer to work partime.

    I'd say it contained "proof" that roughly a quarter of the adult population would prefer not to work.

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  • 9. At 2:49pm on 09 Oct 2009, WolfiePeters wrote:

    At least some women have learnt a lot and now want to make intelligent choices. Pure Blairite/Thatcherite materialism has wiped out too many of the good things in our society. In exchange, we had a house price bubble that made us believe ourselves to be rich for a couple of years. And now we have nothing but financial problems, personal and national.

    Wise are those who learn from experience. Fortunate are those who are still young enough to do something about it.

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  • 10. At 3:44pm on 09 Oct 2009, Mincepie Murderer wrote:

    Repeat the survey asking the same sample of men and then it might be worth discussing. Granted - women have to be pregnant and give birth. But as far as I know, there isn't a gene on the Y-chromosome preventing a man from giving up work/going part-time to care for his children.

    People (women, men, mothers and fathers) want choice. They want enough money to allow them to work/not work as they see fit. That's why so many people buy lottery tickets week after week, with a 1 in 14 million chance of winning the jackpot.

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  • 11. At 3:48pm on 09 Oct 2009, Reaper_of_Souls wrote:

    I do so love these "insightful" reports based on statistical analysis of surveys.

    Ask a series of obvious questions then decide that because of correlation in the results there's a causal effect and make sweeping generalisations.

    And remember, survey respondents often tend to give the answers they believe the person asking the question wants, a trend often prompted by the structure of questions. Taking survey results as an absolute indicator of anything except what people will say in response to a survey tends to be something of a leap of faith.

    People wanting to work even without financial necessity is pretty easily explained by any of a number of factors e.g.;
    - additional material luxuries
    - sense of purpose
    - life structure (e.g. used to working and its all part of the routine)
    - social contact

    But of course they may just be portraying an image as a willing worker because they think that creates a more positive image of themselves and is a "good" response to the survey questions.

    People are individuals with their own priorities and motivations. Reports such as this do little good and can indeed undermine the position of those in a similar demographic but with different priorities.

    The summaries I've seen (I really don't think its worth reading the detail) make this seem like a particularly lazy statement of the obvious lacking challenging questions packaged as "research".

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  • 12. At 4:28pm on 09 Oct 2009, renpax wrote:

    I think this whole debate centres around the role of " Child-carer " in 21st Century Britain.It is the changing nature of that particular role that has caused the confusion in womens identity.Individualist life-styles offer a more successful route to self contentment and that elusive state of "happiness". It is a tragedy that evolution has brought us to this epoch we are.With the planet in such a depleted,shagged out condition regarding resources and environment,maybe Darwins big boss demands Homo Sapiens lose the will to procreate and just disappear altogether.Successive post 80's authoritarian capitalist countries have policied to do just that!!

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  • 13. At 4:46pm on 09 Oct 2009, clamdip lobster claws wrote:

    I think getting women to work was a capitalist invention so you could flood the workplace with cheaper labor (some places 1/3 less than men) and in the same effect pull down men's wages. I think whether women want to work or not has more a lot to do with the fact that many men resent their wives staying home because men wish they could. If being a mother was actually appreciated and revered as a veritable profession then maybe more women would want to do it. There's also the population of women who, like myself, enjoy taking care of children, doing fun activities, cooking, cleaning, gardening, pottering but then who would pay me to do that? That's really the sad part of it all. Women who aren't the best care takers are watching their children and doing a half a** job and women who are really good at it and really love it have to work outside the home. Not all women are good caretakers.
    The other issue why women may want to only work part time is that they feel that if they aren't connected to the outside world in some form that their husbands may stray because looking after children all day isn't the sexiest occupation in the world. I suppose that's why I like the father in "18 Kids and Counting" because even after 18 kids he's still ravenous for his wife. These are some of the dilemmas women face. If society wants emotionally healthy children then they should have better policies to help and protect families such as a stipend for children until 14. At that age, most kids have already made a connection to a group of friends and don't want their mothers around. These issues are always just BLAH, BLAH, BLAH because governments will not improve the lives of families and working adults. Get rid of political vested interests so that average citizens can have lives that make realistic sense. Governments work against their citizens. When this issue is solved, our lives will improve.

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  • 14. At 5:23pm on 09 Oct 2009, zygote wrote:

    (1) Both men and women work for a mixture of money - whether for essentials or luxuries - and "job satisfaction". (2) Full-time motherhood would drive some women to distraction; caring for small children all day can be both stressful and boring. (3) Many women, very understandably, resent asking their partner for spending money and so prefer to have some cash of their own.

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  • 15. At 7:26pm on 09 Oct 2009, Kombucha wrote:

    Oh, surprise surprise. People saying they would rather work less if they had the option. Who is that not true for?

    And why does everything have to be somehow blamed on men? Women don't want to work because they reject the "masculine materialism"? I could understand if the results were analysed and the eventual decision was it showed women were lazy for not wanting to work (and no, I do not believe it shows that, I don't want to work either) but to somehow suggest there is some principle or crusade behind wanting to work less is ridiculous. Besides that, in my experience females are the more materialistic, overall (and yes, I know not ALL women are materialistic).

    It is the same with the recent article on the safety of female cyclists (in the BBC Magazine). It claims women are less safe when they cycle, but somehow manages to slip in that it's only because males are "aggressive" when they cycle. So it's not a fault that women aren't as safe, it's actually a fault men have, apparently.

    Perhaps families should work out what is best for their individual needs and desires. Or is that a bit radical?

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  • 16. At 7:35pm on 09 Oct 2009, CComment wrote:

    The traditionalist approach would at least have the advantage of the likes of Yvette Cooper - or is it Yvette Balls - staying at home instead of talking puerile nonsense. Caledonian Comment

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  • 17. At 7:50pm on 09 Oct 2009, MacScroggie wrote:

    A really catchy title to your blog, Mark. It brought out a glowing respect for you from within my masculine bosom.

    Here's Mr Easton ! He's found out what women really want.

    I'm still wrestling with the problem of what ONE woman wants, and I've been intensively researching this subject for almost 40 years !

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  • 18. At 9:02pm on 09 Oct 2009, Flexiworkingmother wrote:

    I agree with the comments that point out the confusion between women and mothers.
    But these articles and these sorts of research are rarely gender neutral or without a woman-bashing agenda. Mark has inadvertently (I hope) fallen into the trap of thinking that women work either through greed or enjoyment, "We cannot tell whether 71% of women who say they'd continue working would do so because they love their job or because they enjoy the extra spending power". I think you only need to change the gender of this sentence to highlight its ridiculous assumptions: "We cannot tell whether 71% of men who say they'd continue working would do so because they love their job or because they enjoy the extra spending power?". The sexes are really not all that different. Why do men work? Is it for enjoyment or for greed, or more likely neither of these primarily but because they have financial commitments and a sense of responsibility. Or Mark, perhaps you'd care to tell us if you work for greed or love? There is a silly assumption in the article that women's/mothers' motivation for working is driven by consumerism - i.e. that women work to buy the consumerist non-essential but men one assumes work to shoulder the responsibility of paying the family bills. What a load of tosh! Couples both work, and single mothers work, to pay the bills and yes, on top, to have the sort of lifestyle they'd like to provide for themselves and for their children. A father who works is no more or less a virtuous than a mother who works.
    Or take another sentence and change the gender, "Two little children, you don't need the money, should Daddy go out to work full-time?" And I already know that the working men reading this blog think I'm some feminist nightmare - but men if you want to be proper fathers to your children, economically empowered and able to work flexibly then working mothers are your greatest ally.
    Turn another sentence around, "Would the overwhelming majority of men like to give up their careers and dedicate themselves to fatherhood?" Don't we hear men saying that they are dedicated fathers BECAUSE they work to provide for the family? I'm a dedicated single mother who works to provide for mine. What's the alternative? I'm not going to get any money out of my now re-married ex husband with his new wife and family to support. State benefits are for those not able to get back into the workplace. I got back into the workplace - not through consumerist greed or love of my job either. Men can have a macho whinge about their jobs but shoulder the responsibility of working. Let a woman whinge about her job (as normal people aka men do) and she's told if she doesn't like work why not give up.
    "Maybe men are working more than ever before because they absolutely buy into the materialistic mode". Maybe women are working more than ever because of financial and social pressures, high divorce rates, good education and better opportunities. It's about time that the positive role model a working parent demonstrates to their children was applauded - whether male or female, and about time that the positive role model an involved caring parent, whether working or not, has for the children too. This war of the sexes rubbish over parenting has gone on far too long and every adult needs to take more responsibility, not less.

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  • 19. At 9:24pm on 09 Oct 2009, clamdip lobster claws wrote:

    This discussion is always ressurected when jobs become scarce. They said the same thing to women after WW2 after so many women had put their heart and souls into building airplanes for the war effort.

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  • 20. At 9:38pm on 09 Oct 2009, clamdip lobster claws wrote:

    The answer is very simple. Women want and need appreciation. When your wife is complaining and finds fault in you it means that your not satisfying her physical, emotional, sexual monetary or other means. When did your wife last show you appreciation? Did you just fix the squeaky door, four years later? When you do the little things that make her feel you appreciate her you'll score. You may think the new Mercedes you bought her is worth two years worth of brownie points but its not. A new car has the same value as a bouquet of daisies. In order to keep your wife happy , keep the scorecard even and surprise her now and again.

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  • 21. At 02:23am on 10 Oct 2009, Graphis wrote:

    There's work and there's jobs: the report makes no distinction between doing what may be hard work for no pay, and relatively easier work for pay. Many people work really hard for little reward, musicians, artists etc, they do it for love. Mothers (or stay-at-home dads) also work extremely hard for no pay.
    There's also a huge difference between 'loving your job' and 'doing something you love'. The simple fact is, there's hardly anyone in the world, male or female, who has a job BECAUSE they love it, they do it to get paid. Unless they're already working in a field they love, most would give up their jobs like a shot if they could afford to, and spend their time doing whatever else they preferred.

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  • 22. At 05:47am on 10 Oct 2009, tarquin wrote:

    agreed - I see someone's opinion dressed up with a virtually useless questionnaire, this group have an agenda and as Mark says they may be right, but they have no evidence here

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  • 23. At 08:43am on 10 Oct 2009, shesaidthat wrote:

    The other thing that doesn't seem to have been addressed here, and something which is often overlooked in many general comments made about women and working, is circumstances. In terms of working mothers, for example, what about the woman who has married and started a family then later found herself on her own due to marriage breakdown? Perhaps she worked before starting a family then chose to stay at home for their first years. What does she do now that she is on her own again? Does she play stay at home Mum and collect benefits or try to improve the living standards for herself and her children? It could also be said that this sets a great example to her children of the benefit of working. I've noted in many debates there sometimes seems to be a presumption that a woman on her own with children has always been a 'single mother'.

    Personally, I'm over all feminist rationale, studies, women's movement groups (or whatever) with regards to women. I think we are very fortunate in most cases, excepting the example above, to actually have a choice - something that men most often don't.

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  • 24. At 09:26am on 10 Oct 2009, baldrych wrote:

    What do women really want? Simple! The central heating turned up a notch.

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  • 25. At 11:47am on 10 Oct 2009, sunflowerinrain wrote:

    Please could we have the Out of the Doll's House programmes re-run? Or at least available somehow. Watching that series was eye-opening and formative, and seems particularly relevant now, as it seems that we are once more subjected to propaganda.

    I'm not saying that mothers should feel pressured, as they have been, to go out to work or to work full-time, because raising the next generation is in itself one of the most important jobs possible. However, not all women are, can be, or want to be mothers. Additionally, full-time motherhood doesn't last the whole of a working life even for those women who do (or can) take the maternal option. We're talking about maybe 18 years. What happens to a full-time mother when the children grow up? Scrap-heap?

    Finally, although raising and educating children is centrally important to the future of our society and ourselves, it is not and should not be a task solely placed on mothers. A father can also be the primary care-giving parent; grandparents traditionally took the role and in many ways can be much better placed for it. In the end, the care of children is the responsibility of the community and everyone in it. As a childless (male) friend of mine says, "I take a keen interest in education policies because in the future those children will be managing the country and providing my pension!".

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  • 26. At 7:19pm on 10 Oct 2009, thtone wrote:

    Has the time arrived when children would be better off starting weekly boarding school at the earliest possible age?

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  • 27. At 7:52pm on 10 Oct 2009, Maham_Farhat wrote:

    Ms Odone should do some introductory econometrics.

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  • 28. At 01:15am on 11 Oct 2009, clamdip lobster claws wrote:

    I think boarding school isn't a good placement for really young children.
    Maybe 12-17, maybe later depending on the emotional needs of the child. I think it would help if people would just understand what is most important in their lives. Having children requires sacrifice. Is having two cars and a new house more important than your child's succesful future? These seem to be the issues that people don't want to compromise on.

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  • 29. At 5:09pm on 11 Oct 2009, yellowsandydog wrote:

    This article has been very informative, thank you. The questions in the survey have been so weighted as to make the conclusions meaningless. What is most annoying is that the report was titled "What Women Want" when it mainly dealt with mothers of small children. I think this is a shame because the rights of full-time mothers (and fathers) is an important issue, both in regard to National Insurance and pensions, and in the way society considers people whose work is unpaid.

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  • 30. At 6:11pm on 11 Oct 2009, lmwaungulu wrote:

    I think we have to be careful here.Saying more or less backing away from consumeristic and materialistic attitudes is not true.I think men are immaterialistic but are pushed to be by women.

    the researcher should also have specified the income ranges of the women interviewed or that of their families. Because its not like if you nan not afford something yuo do not want it.

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  • 31. At 6:13pm on 11 Oct 2009, lmwaungulu wrote:

    Ms Odone should tell us what she thinks or feels women want?

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  • 32. At 8:31pm on 11 Oct 2009, nottoonear wrote:

    Having read this report and the 4 case studies, I would say they (the 4 couples) are fairly immature. Not one appears capable of actually conducting a relationship based on respect and responsibility and making mutual decisions.

    Yet they are given as examples as to why "real women" want to stay at home and the 15% of women who want to work full-time are "macho". She has no comment to make on the 25% of men who want to work full time. May we infer they are real "macho" men and the other 75% are ....?

    Why not use case studies of responsible couples who actually communicate and are quite happy with whatever they've worked out between themselves?

    As you say, Mark, "polemic dressed up as research" and an insult to adult intelligence.

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  • 33. At 00:06am on 12 Oct 2009, hack-round wrote:

    Simple answer to your question Mark is everything, where did they get this idea from – men.

    The fuller answer will be contained in a volume four times the length of War and Peace and that will not guarantee to have found the complete answer just a few clues

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  • 34. At 00:56am on 12 Oct 2009, Morgaine_ADO wrote:

    What do I want?... Not hard: I want a life, and a job that supports having a life. I don't want to "live for my job", which is what most of us do right now. I don't have (and don't want) children and am not much into the 50s housewife thing. But I DO want a decent quality of life (i.e. enough time and energy left at days end to play some music, read a book, see friends and perhaps take in some cultural event without it being a chore to squeeze them in around work). I want the things I do buy to be well made and well designed for an affordable price. Is this too much to ask?... That's what assembly line production was supposed to ensure, but what we have is rubbish priced as if it exemplified quality craftsmanship. And we have to devote every waking minute to get it! Please! No wonder people don't place a high value on life anymore.

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  • 35. At 11:12am on 12 Oct 2009, Lazarus wrote:

    Mark, I can sum up what women want in just two words - "something else".

    As I've stated repeatedly on many of your blogs, drawing any kind of conclusion based on a statistical survey is pointless, and this one is no exception.

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  • 36. At 3:12pm on 12 Oct 2009, chriss-w wrote:

    There are two irritating things about this research. First, the question which assumes that there is some absolute value to which everyone (all women) aspire. This is nonsense. Unless you are so remarkably lucky/wealthy that your every whim is catered for most life choices involve trade-offs and individuals trade according to individual wants.

    Second, there is the assumption that the current state of affairs has been imposed on people against their will; and/or that it can be resolved by external action - ie that "they ought to do something about it", whoever "they" are. So far as I know no-one is stopping people giving up work if they want to: they just have to take the consequences in terms of reduced income. To ask someone, usually the Government (ie everyone else who is still in work), to pick up the tab doesn't seem to be a step towards a fairer society.

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  • 37. At 4:59pm on 12 Oct 2009, Trebor wrote:

    I have always thought it a bit odd that in the search for equality women are not allowed by the feminists to have female tendencies. 30 years of battles and still a woman who says she is in love, wants a family and to look after it at home is sneered at by the militants who would rather do a thousand pressups before lunch to show they are "as good as" the boys.

    For goodness sake lighten up. If one woman wants to bake apple pie and another wants to "do" media studies, let them. It should not be a contest.

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  • 38. At 6:27pm on 12 Oct 2009, elfrieda wrote:

    I would have liked to stay at home with my two sons with no money worries , but i worked in the evening 6 to 10 shift at a very tiring and boring job , it was fun sometimes to be with other adults, but my husband was at home looking after the boys, we managed ok we have never had a great deal of cash ( did not run a car or holiday abroad ) but we where there when needed by our sons one or the other of us !! I went to work in the daytime .. when the lads were older and at senior school . I still was home before school was out . they were never latch key kids. I know not everyone can work around the children but it all depends on which is more important to you the children or your career .

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  • 39. At 06:01am on 13 Oct 2009, Angel_in_Transit wrote:

    Isn't it human to review your choices as you move along the corridor of life?

    Isn't the current "nightmare" faced by many parents a product of a "feminism" that tried to nurture the "top end" and ended up creating thousands of low paid jobs for part time parents that "feminism" never considered?

    Isn't it possible that in some regards society was better off with the "older" model? Isn't it true that if you create a bias to oppose another bias you just get stalemate?

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  • 40. At 09:47am on 13 Oct 2009, Brian Berlin wrote:

    It is not irrelevant to note that Odone is a right-wing, Catholic commentator writing a "report" for a right-wing think-tank. But you don't tell us this...
    Had the report been written by a militant leftist and published by a left-wing think-tank, you would have. And they constantly moan of BBC left-wing bias! I don't think so.

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  • 41. At 11:41am on 13 Oct 2009, professionalidentity wrote:

    To me the overwhelming conclusion of the report is that we need to focus on making part time work work, so that there is a real choice and chance for parents (and anyone else in society that wants to pursue interests outside of work) to be truly fulfilled in all aspects of their life.

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  • 42. At 2:13pm on 13 Oct 2009, berliegirlie wrote:

    brinberlin, you're spot on in your observation about Odone's worldview.
    And yes absolutely to the other comments about women/mothers.
    This isn't research it's right-wing fundamentalist propaganda. How can you tell?
    1. Look at the emotive language she uses, "institutionalised childcare", note she doesn't say "institutionalised education" but "school". She says "real women" engage in a "feminine" lifestyle, and the Government subsidises "bad mothering".
    2. The question purported to show that women really want to stay at home, is asking what people think is best for others. In other words "what OUGHT a woman in that scenario do?". A classic preach!
    3.She portrays women as victims needing protection who must be made aware of their "perilous legal status" if they cohabit.
    As other comments have said the question is loaded. If it was about being able to make a choice then the the vast majority would say yes. Surely this is what women and women's supporters have been fighting for, and won. Women today in the UK are fortunate to have the choice. Many in other countries do not. We choose whether to get married or not, to have a child or not, or to work or not. Women in other countris do not have any of these choices. And I don't forget that men don't have the gift of choosing to have a child either, let alone the choice of work or not.
    Odone almost also asserts that women should be paid to stay at home with the children. Get over the 'who's going to pay' bit and my response is, OK, Ofsted will assess your home and you on your suitability to be a mother in the first place, you'll have regular assessments and have goals set for you to attain, and if you don't reach the required standard of work you'll be fired.
    On marriage, it's about time the propagation of the fairytale of one marriage to one person and 'happy ever after' was put an end to. If divorce is to be made harder to obtain then it must be made much, much harder to get married in the first place. It's way too easy and totally unchecked. And don't let me get started on women's "dependancy needs", dependancy is unhealthy.
    Finally, we women need to stop slagging each other off because we choose a different lifestyle (working vs stay at home). It's borne out of guilt. We feel guilty whichever option we take. If men had the all the choices we do I doubt they would continue to keep berating each other about the choices each have made.

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  • 43. At 3:45pm on 13 Oct 2009, Woolfbane wrote:

    As I believe Chaucer established some time ago in The Wife of Bath, what women want is "mastery over men".

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  • 44. At 1:44pm on 14 Oct 2009, Rowan wrote:

    Renidrag, the point is that "surveys" like this are part of the usual reactionary agenda during a recession that tries to social engineer women back into the home. There is usually a "your kids will grow up criminals unless you stay home" theme in there somewhere and its always directed at the mother.

    Everyone (of either gender) should see it as feasible to work, stay at home, bake apple pies and bring up kids or any of the above, providing they can work out how to fund these activities. If mothers want to stay at home and bring up kids good for them, providing this does not become "the norm" and reduce the opportunities available for working women - remember "well I won't give you the job because you'll just go off and have children in a few years"?

    These surveys are of no worth, since they illogically assume a common set of characteristics based on gender. They are then used to "prove" that "women want this" and "men want that". Individuals want a variety of things, but it doesn't make such good copy does it?

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  • 45. At 7:51pm on 14 Oct 2009, stevejohnson72 wrote:

    Is this wishful thinking by someone of a certain religeous persuasion?
    By that I mean someone who believes in "Go forth and Multiply"...indefinitely!

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  • 46. At 01:28am on 16 Oct 2009, sduranjaya wrote:

    What I can't really grok about this entire thing is why it's assumed that /any/ human being would choose differently. Men who have no need to work fulltime, I would assume, would also choose not to because it is human nature to take the easy way of things.

    This survey seems to assume, without making it clear, that the 'lack of a need to work full time' is because they have another provider, assumedly (again) a husband in this case. In my opinion, if /any/ person, single, married, mother, male, or female came into enough money to not have to ever work again, why would they, save for having something to do and a schedule?

    It's biased nonsense and should be completely disregarded.

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