May women workers
Study on women, family and work : Young women are under a lot of pressure
More than any generation before them, 25 to 35-year-olds today orient their lives according to their job. Both women and men consider financial independence to be the most important goal in life, but women are postponing their desire to have children more and more. This is proven by a new study that the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB) carried out on behalf of the women's magazine “Brigitte” and that was presented in Berlin yesterday. The study draws attention to the enormous pressure young women are exposed to as a result of the political model of full-time working mothers.
Even more than five years ago, when the same group of women and men were asked about their image of society and self, women today want well-paid work with career opportunities. 91 percent consider their job and their own money to be very important. Surprising for the head of the study, WZB President Jutta Allmendinger, is the clarity with which men also urge their partner to “provide for her own living”: 76 percent agree with this statement today, 22 percent more than in 2007. Allmendinger speaks of a "social change" when it comes to women in the labor market. Whether women work at all is no longer a question. “Today, women no longer have to ask permission to work. To put it bluntly, today she has to ask permission to have children. "
The study shows that women have never felt so alone and torn inside with the issue of children as they do today. Many women fear being sidelined as mothers. “If you have children, you cannot have a real career,” answers more than half of young women today. Five years ago, when the question of career opportunities for women with children was asked, only 36 percent said so (53 percent today). Their conflict shows the unchanged high desire for children of 93 percent, which less than half have implemented so far.
Women give politics a devastating testimony. Everyone agrees that social inequality has increased. Around a third of women today find it more difficult to combine work and family. The respondents rate the opportunities for advancement for women more critically today than in 2007. At that time, the respondents were self-confident (99 percent agreed with the statement “I am good at what I do”). Allmendinger called the young women a generation “on the go” that would change society. The first signs of increasing dissatisfaction among women were already shown by the update of the study in 2009. The women complained that men were preferred to them at work, hardly helped at home and were given more recognition for two months of parental leave than they were for a whole Year. But the women did not give up, instead demanding equal wages, fair partnerships and improved childcare.
Women with children rarely want to take a break for more than a year
The respondents in 2012 were also combative. 70 percent of them are “angry that women are being discriminated”, 62 percent agree with a “binding women's quota” - a remarkable result, according to Allmendinger, because, unlike older women, young women often reject quota regulations. Men also see the discrepancy, but are seldom willing to change anything. This is particularly evident in their use of parental leave. Although 50 percent of men state that they want to combine family and work, 31 percent cannot imagine taking a break for it.
The reason for the increased dissatisfaction of women with a lack of advancement opportunities and a lack of support is also their personal situation. Many are no longer in training as in 2007, but are now faced with the decision for or against a child, for or against a part-time job - life models that are less and less valued in their age group. Women rarely want to stay home longer than a year after giving birth to their children (30 percent compared to 36 percent in 2009). Allmendinger cannot recognize retraditionalization, as is often assumed in women as soon as they have children. On the contrary: The political discussion about childcare allowance and managers continues at home. Work is no longer seen as an opportunity for women to participate in society, but as a “hard economic factor”, says Allmendinger.
Allmendinger: Women and men should only work 32 hours
Not all respondents are equally dissatisfied with the development. Well-educated women are more satisfied with their lives and their jobs than they were five years ago. Less educated women and those who have since had children are more dissatisfied. Uneducated men are even more dissatisfied. Education researcher Allmendinger is particularly concerned about this social gap. In the long run, children would get those who can afford help raising children. The rest, says Brigitte Huber, editor-in-chief, is already wearing down between part-time and unpaid work at home: "There have never been so many exhausted mothers as there are today."
Allmendinger warns of a society that relies as heavily on full employment as Germany - especially since full-time is usually defined here as "40 plus 10" hours. Encouraged by the results of the study, the sociologist repeats her well-known demand for a political change in working hours. The respondents confirm that women would like to work more, men less. After the expansion of daycare places and all-day schools, Allmendinger believes that politicians should now ensure that the working hours of women and men level off at around 32 hours per week. "If you can have a career with fewer hours, problems like unequal pay automatically decrease," she says. Allmendinger thinks nothing of so-called “mommy tracks”, slower career tracks that employers set up for mothers.
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