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Thread: Working mums

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    Default Working mums

    Mums homing in on part-time work
    Saturday November 25, 2006
    By Simon Collins

    Women still want to be stay-at-home mums - but research suggests they may not be as happy as they expected.

    A Massey University sociologist, who has done two pilot studies in Wellington, says women still plan to stop paid work for three to five years after having children and then go back to work only part time.

    "Those old traditional patterns are still there," Dr Lesley Patterson said. "I thought they might have shifted a bit more. I'm surprised at how gendered the division of labour still is."

    Auckland University sociologist Maureen Baker said local mothers still dropped out of paid work more than in other developed nations. Only 43 per cent of Kiwi mums with children under 3 were in paid work, compared with 59 per cent in Canada.

    And when they went back to work, half of working Kiwi mums with two or more children worked only part time, compared with fewer than a third of working mums in Canada.

    Yet a Social Development Ministry study found that almost half of stay-at-home mums wanted to get paid work.

    The studies were presented yesterday at a Sociological Association conference in Hamilton, where Dr Janet Bedggood, of the Auckland University of Technology, said recent comments on Prime Minister Helen Clark's alleged "sham marriage" stemmed from public attitudes about women being "economically independent".

    She said the attacks on Helen Clark's initiative early this year to get more mothers into paid work contrasted with a positive reception given to similar initiatives in Australia.

    "It seemed to be tied in with this negative media coverage of Helen Clark not being a mother," she said.

    Dr Bedggood said the Social Development study was reported as showing that many working mums would prefer to be at home. In fact, it showed that only 35 per cent of parents who both worked would prefer one parent not to work; 46 per cent of single-income parents wanted both parents to work. However, Dr Patterson's study of young Wellingtonians found that women still wanted to be fulltime parents for a period.

    "The women said: 'When I have children I'm going to stop work to look after them. I might start work when they are about 3 or 5 [there were various ages] but I'll do part-time work that will fit in with the kids,"' she said.

    "Men tended to say, 'I'd like to be involved', but they say they need to make sure they have a good job so they can ensure their partner can stay home for a period of time." Young women surveyed said they wanted to start their families by the age of 30 and men by 35.

    In another study, Dr Patterson interviewed 20 Wellington couples about to have their first children. Two of the couples planned to give the primary childcaring role to the man, one couple planned to share the role and the rest of the men planned to help the women be primary carers.

    "Some of that is just the practicalities of breastfeeeding and all that. But some of it is that for women it's much easier to take a break from their paid work for motherhood than it is for a man," Dr Patterson said.

    She found that the parents-to-be often did housework together but the woman usually took the lead role, saying things such as: "I tell him what to do and he always does it. The women tend to do the indoor work and men more the outdoor work." She found that housework was not an issue with most of the couples because the partners talked to each other about it.

    But Professor Baker said as a result women who stopped work to have children often returned to part-time jobs at low pay rates, ending up on the same incomes at 50 that they had at 20 while their husbands' incomes generally kept on rising. Therefore, women were still more likely to improve their economic status through marriage than through work.

    Bouncing babies

    * More babies were born in the past year than in any year since 1992.

    * 59,120 babies were born, the highest number of live births registered since the September 1992 year, when 59,510 babies were born.

    * The birth rate is up slightly to 2.1 children per woman on average, but still close to the long-term average of 2.0 during the past 20 years.

    * That is higher than the 1.8 child average of Australia, Denmark, England and Wales, Norway and Sweden.
    Mother Bear

    Try to bloom wherever you are planted.

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    Default Re: Working mums

    Families no better off 20 years on
    Saturday November 25, 2006
    By Simon Collins

    A massive shift of women into paid work over the past 20 years has left the average New Zealand family no better off.

    A research project led by Prime Minister Helen Clark's husband, Auckland University sociologist Peter Davis, has found that the median family income, after adjusting for inflation and family size, was just over $37,000 a year in 1981 - and was still just over $37,000 in 2001.

    In the same period, the proportion of working women rose from 47 per cent to 61 per cent. The increase in women was offset by a 20 per cent drop in male fulltime employment, as men moved into self-employment and part-time work and on to benefits.

    Families on middle and low incomes have ended up merely holding their own, while high-income families are better off.

    The "Family Whanau and Wellbeing Project", funded by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, is using data from the past five Censuses to develop ongoing measures of family wellbeing.

    Professor Davis told a Sociological Association conference in Hamilton this week that each Census cost $25 million, but until now the Government had not got that value of data from it.

    A project statistician, Mark Wheldon, said the new measure of median family income could only be approximate because it was taken from data about Census income bands such as $15,000 to $20,000.

    The measure then adjusts the Census median over time for changes in consumer prices and families' size and structure, so that it is not affected by social changes such as the trend towards more sole-parent families. "Family" was any set of one or more adult caregivers with children.

    The measure shows that the median gross income of all families dropped from $37,463 in 1981 to a low of $33,227 in 1991, before recovering slowly to $37,665 in 2001.

    A sociologist in the team, Gerard Cotterell, said other measures also showed that real wages had been static or falling over the past 20 years.

    Benefit levels were cut in the late 1980s and particularly in 1991 and had never recovered in real terms.

    "It's kind of stunning," he said. "Income inequality has increased in Western countries. What's scary in New Zealand is that it hasn't got better under Labour. There are more people in employment, but it's low-paid employment."

    - NZ Herald
    Mother Bear

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