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Parenthood and Paid Work: Conflict, Compromise and Compatibility

Joshi, H; (2020) Parenthood and Paid Work: Conflict, Compromise and Compatibility. In: Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Gender Research. ACPI: Virtual conference. Green open access

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The paper opens with an illustration of how successive generations of women in my own family have combined motherhood and paid employment since the end of the Nineteenth Century in Britain: an exceptionally well-qualified line of women, fitting in to the dominant male breadwinner norm, enshrined in Beveridge’s National Insurance system. I then turn to the general idea that the employment of women came to be viewed as relevant to population studies, in particular. Improvements in women’s economic opportunities were seen as helping to bring down the number of births, both in high fertility and low fertility societies. A key idea was that better prospects in the female labour market would raise the opportunity cost of motherhood. This story does not quite fit the experience of post war Britain, where women’s employment has been rising, sometimes at the same time as fertility. The latter has fluctuated but is still relatively high by international standards. Motherhood was increasingly combined with employment, though paid work was often part-time, secondary to that of the male breadwinner. This compromise contributed to maintaining the gap in pay between men and women, especially given the a-symmetric pay differentials of fathers and mothers. Paradoxically the future of fertility in industrial countries is no longer seen by demographers as necessarily depending on sustaining female subordination. An alternative would be improving the terms on which both men and women can combine paid work with parenthood. Just as paid work need not be a sphere where women occupy a secondary place, the role of men as giving care within the family could be developed. Parenthood is taking increasingly diverse forms in the 21st century, and egalitarian childrearing has the potential to provide better prospects for the next generation.

Type: Proceedings paper
Title: Parenthood and Paid Work: Conflict, Compromise and Compatibility
Event: 3rd International Conference on Gender Research
Location: Virtual conference
Dates: 16 July 2020 - 18 July 2020
ISBN-13: 9781912764563
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.34190/igr.20.500
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.34190/igr.20.500
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Motherhood; women’s earnings; fertility transition; opportunity cost; egalitarian parenthood; breadwinner
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10101685
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