May 26th, 2017
The Globe and Mail
May 25, 2017
Many years ago, when real estate was affordable, I bought a starter home in a funky Toronto neighbourhood. All the young moms had been steeped in feminism, but none had the least interest in climbing the corporate ladder. Few were interested in standard full-time jobs. One was a singer. One was an alternative therapist of some sort. Penny, the woman next door, had a traditional marriage, with four kids, a dog and lots of voluntary work. I didn't want her life, but she didn't want mine either. She didn't seem the least oppressed.
For women, the need to work has changed dramatically – try buying a house in Toronto these days – but their personal preferences haven't changed as much as you might think. Just over a quarter of Canadian working women hold part-time jobs, primarily, they say, because they choose to. They'd rather have more time for the kids, avoid the crappy commutes and let their husbands work the overtime. Their model isn't Sheryl Sandberg. It's Sophie Grégoire Trudeau.
Yet, the preferences of actual women do not figure in the thinking of government policy makers, or of feminists. What they want women to do is work more like men.
Why? Because, number one, it would be good for the economy. More women are out working more hours and earning more money and paying more taxes would boost the GDP. The government's economic advisers are all for it. They point out that if only women with kids under 16 spent more time at work and less time with their kids, we'd all be better off. (No one has asked the kids what they think.)
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