Natalie Solent

Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.

E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)

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I also sometimes write for Samizdata and Biased BBC.)


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Monday, September 27, 2004
 
Life's too short. Literally. Yet more wisdom from the Guardian. Following a link from Public Interest I found this article by Joanna Moorhead. Just look at the title and wonder: 'For decades we've been told Sweden is a great place to be a working parent. But we've been duped.'

In the article Ms Moorhead quotes approvingly (as will I in a moment) an London School of Economics. sociologist called Catherine Hakim. Yes, A lioness hath whelped in the streets; And graves have yawn’d and yielded up their dead and I am about to cheer on a sociologist from the LSE. A quote:

What has happened through the years of family-friendly policies, she says, is that private companies have reduced their number of female employees because they can't afford the cost of the generous maternity packages.

That, of course, is exactly the argument being voiced angrily this week by employer organisations, in the midst of claims by Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt that a third Labour term would see an enhanced commitment to better parental rights (and hence, more emulation of the kinds of policies that have already been adopted in Scandinavia). Hakim, for one, can see precisely where they're coming from: as far as she's concerned, the story of Sweden over the past two decades is the story of a country whose small industries couldn't foot the bill for the ideological parental-rights packages being embraced, and who have largely taken avoiding action when it has come to employing women of childbearing age.


When the bloke from UKIP said something like this he was pilloried. There's more. This is one clear-headed woman.
The unpalatable fact, she says, is that there are only so many hours in the day and only so many days in the week and whatever else we expect of the UK and EU the one thing their legislation cannot give us is the one thing that working mothers so desperately crave: more time. "The bottom line is that as far as investment in a career is concerned, policies actually don't make that much difference," she says. "The major investment required is one of time and effort: if you are seriously interested in a career, you don't have time for children and if you are seriously interested in bringing up more than one child, let's say, you don't have the time, effort and imagination for getting to the top of a career.

"The fact is that children are a 20-year project and a career is a 20- to 40-year project and there is an incompatibility there." Over the past eight years, Hakim has written six books and she says, "There's no way I could have done that if I had had children."

As the Spanish proverb has it, Take what you want and pay for it, says God.