The Future For Women?
This year is the 100th celebration of International Women's Day - a chance to look back on women's achievements and to consider how far we have come. And we have come far.
We've got the vote, more and more women are working and have their own independent income and voice outside the home. An increasing number are in positions of real power, even if their voyage to the top has not exactly been rapid.
Obviously, there's still a long way to go to achieve things like equal pay and equal representation and we have had to endure backlash after backlash. But here we are in 2010 with women potentially in a command position for the future.
Not only are today's graduates more likely to be women, but technological changes mean that the way we work is changing which favors everyone, but particularly women who are trying to balance caring responsibilities with work. As more people work flexibly, those caring responsibilities should shift more equally onto men too.
It all seems to signal a glorious future, but...Just as we are getting used to the idea that men should and want to share the household chores and childcare more equally, changing demographics and straitened economic times mean that there is a looming new frontier on the care horizon.
As women leave it later and later to have children, so they risk ending up having caring responsibilities for both their children and their elderly parents. This dual responsibility is often the straw that breaks the camel's back. Indeed, Working Mother magazine says that elder care is now the main reason women drop out of the workforce.
It's not that men don't take any responsibility for looking after their elderly parents, but the expectation is still that women assume the major caring role. And it is the expectations on women which weigh so heavily and which make it difficult to know what to do in their own best interests rather than in the interests of everyone else.Continued on the next page