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The status of women

June 29, 2011
by Erin B

So I read this post shortly after it came out about the huge gender gap in cycling.  It suggests that it is part of a wider gender gap in income and domestic responsibility.  I think she has some very good points and I’m sure I have blogged about how much easier a cargo bike would make my life.  This need has gotten bigger since my crash as I can no longer use the drop bars on the Nishiki and it has my best cargo capacity.  I adore Claire, but she can’t take Toddler girl and me for groceries and come home with much more than a cup of sugar.

Then today this post came out from a blog co-written by a few moms from Edmonton.  It is a very interesting post about the challenges of biking with kids and urban sprawl, but my favourite part is the link to this other article.

It talks bout women in the Netherlands persistently only working part time.  As much as I feel like I’m letting my feminist side down…  I have to admidt that sounds pretty good to me.

Here’s the thing:  Before I married T, I spent years working horrible shifts at assorted hospitals to build seniority and be able to bid on better hours.  When I settled in the city I was already taking a $10/hour pay cut because my position was not available in the city hospitals.  The just after we got married a better position came open at the local University and I cut my hours way back at the hospital to take it.  That was a mistake.  The job I took was not as advertised.  I signed up for a job share and the person I was sharing with quit after only a month.  Then a year later when I went on mat leave it was filled by an unquantified person and eventually abolished before I came back.

The U placed me in a clerical position after my mat leave (eventually) that did not match my qualifications and not only did not allow me to get the hours to practice required to keep my license in my field and ALSO did not allow me to work any of the shifts available at the hospital. In the end I had to give up on both jobs due to Toddler girl having some health problems.  So… I’m a stay at home mom who works casual at the local doctor’s office.

By the time Toddler girl goes to school, I will be too old to have a career.  Sad but true.  I’ll be 37 when she is in kindergarten.  To start rebuilding my seniority at the hospital I would have to work several years of casual then likely a minimum of 3 years of night shifts (again) before I could bid on regularly scheduled shift work that would be a 12 week rotation with all hours worked between 5am and 11:30 pm on any day of the week.  After 20 years, I could MAYBE get a day job.  If I was back in a small town (and could move to the small town based on work available) I could be working days with an on call rotation in about six months.

Or I could try to get 3 or 4 days a week at the clinic.  It would be more double what I work now.  We would have enough money that we wouldn’t have to worry all the time.  But I would still have time to help with home work, do the mountains of laundry young children generate, menu plan, grocery shop and keep a garden.  I could continue to be sane.  I have to say working 1.2 FTE and trying to squeeze in all the other stuff the way I was when I first went back to work after mat leave did not leave much room for sanity.

I know lots of women do it all with a full time job.  It amazes me that they can.  I wonder if they are happy?

I am.  Even if I worry about money all the time.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Lorene permalink
    June 29, 2011 8:53 pm

    Even without kids, we sometimes wonder if we’d save money by having one of us at home taking care of things. If we had time for a full garden we’d save money there. Keeping a house organized and clean makes everyone there happier, and it does take work. Having someone at home to plan meals and make sure they’re healthy means less money spent eating out and better health in general. And that’s without taking care of a child!

    I’m always worried about “expenditure creep”. We renegotiated our mortgage so we pay less, but we don’t seem to have more money. We just expand to fill whatever money we make. It makes sense then that we should be able to contract to make whatever money we earn fit our life.

    I think that if you manage to have a job that makes enough to pay for a nanny or other full time house/child care, then you can have a full time job and be happy. Or maybe if you have more tolerance for clutter, or if you are hyperthyroid and enjoy working a full time job and then work til midnight at home…

    We should talk more about this when we get together. 🙂

  2. Erin B permalink*
    June 30, 2011 3:34 am

    That was the big thing with my working full time at the U and part time in health care. We ate out almost every night. There was no time to menu plan and shop and cook. By the time we got off work and picked Toddler girl up from day care and got home everyone was starving and spending another hour cooking just seemed to hard. Plus then there was clean up and everything after cooking…. We just picked something up on the way home or “made” convenience food like frozen pizza or those frozen entrees. Too much salt, too much fat and not enough veg. We didn’t feel good all the time. I always knew that once Toddler girl was out of baby food there was no way we could feed her like that.

    I’m not always organized for supper but I can usually make something. Now dinner out is less than once a week.

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