Home news Women at work: Family policy must change radically

Women at work: Family policy must change radically

The problem: Women too often take stereotypical rules of the game as given.
 The result: Equal rights are progressing only with difficulty.
 The solution: Politics must reward genuine partnership. And women have to rethink what's really possible.

       Essay by Henrike Roßbach



    On Facebook and Twitter lives a man who has everything: career, fatherhood, time for himself, fantastic looks – even though the women-dominated world around him does not make it easy for him. But even for this "man who has it all" still brings understanding: "Women and men are equal, but different," he says. "So men have a natural talent to take care of small children for a long time."


    Working fathers should finally learn to relax: "You are prettier if you are happy." Sometimes women also have their say. Sophie, Minister: "My husband works, but I can tell you, he's a great husband and a great father, we never had an au pair, he never asked for one."


    It all sounds pretty funny. Sooner or later, however, a giggle as a woman will get stuck in your throat. Because this satirical women's world reminds one of how unresisting the mirrored reality often takes.


    The present is full of well-practiced patterns of behavior and thought and unspoken rules of the game for women. However, uncorrected errors of judgment can lead to deformed behavior, both in men and women, and as a result to tangible disadvantages – in work, family and quality of life.


    Examples? Women should feel equal when their bank calls them "dear customer". But if they accept that for themselves, will not they also accept their own invisibility? This may seem to some as a feminist small-mindedness, but many small things form the collective thinking and feeling, the "is just like that", in which often already a "Do not pretend so" resonates.


    When women accept to remain formally invisible in many places in life, they get used to this form of modest pragmatism. And that's exactly where they get in the way. In salary negotiations and when asked who takes over the new project. And at home, when it goes without saying that they always "hang up" the laundry and look for rotted apples in their knapsacks.


    In politics and economics, the question of reconciliation is usually female


    How good women are at adapting – and how little good they sometimes get – is one of the topics that occupy the British cultural scientist and feminist Angela McRobbie. When it comes to fulfilling all the roles assigned to them, according to McRobbie, women are the perfect members of neoliberal society.


    The goal: the perfect management of one's own life. In Berlin, the scientist recently gave a lecture in which she showed how women in the creative industry are willing to accept stereotypes. There is an egalitarian myth of "you can do it," and for many women, education is designed to "love" what they do. Conversely, but that excludes the possibility of rebelling, because complaining does not fit into enthusiasm. There is, according to McRobbie, a "feminist problem" with this concept of "passionate working".

Four days work instead of five? An idea with charm
                Shortening working hours has long been a topic in public debate. But now unions and workers are fighting for shorter working days and weeks again. It is high time for that.
                By Christoph Gurk
            more …

That professionally successful mothers are always asked how they can do that, while men are hardly ever asked this question, also strengthens existing patterns of thinking. In politics and economics, the question of reconciliation is usually female. This may reflect the reality, but it does make women accept the status quo as unchangeable – and many companies apparently do. The result is called sociologists status-based discrimination. According to an American study from 2007, motherhood is penalized in the labor market, both in salary and in job interview opportunities. For men, on the other hand, it often pays to have children.



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