Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Having it all

Two studies hit the headlines today - and most papers have bundled them into one article. They both ring very true to me.

The first study, from Princeton University, suggests that compared to the Sixties women still do just as many jobs that they rate 'unpleasant' while men have cut back on such tasks - the gap between the genders' commitment to teeth-gritting has widened.

The second study, from the University of Pennsylvania, suggests that compared to the Seventies, men are happier while women's satisfaction has remained the same. Again the gap between the genders - this time when it comes to life fulfilment - has widened.

I'm not going to go off on a women's lib rant here - and I do think it's great that men are in general more contented. But it does make me sad that women are not. Compared to my mother, I have more opportunities, a better standard of living, a better chance to work at a job that fulfils me, the choice of whether to have children or not. Yet still my gender is no happier.

The 'why' could well, of course, be precisely because we have so many more opportunities in life. I'm absolutely not saying that women shouldn't work... or shouldn't have children... or shouldn't travel - quite the opposite. But while the above-quoted studies show that men have kicked back a little in life and are not demanding quite so much of themselves, we women are working just as hard if not harder in order to have it all and do it all.

I wouldn't swap my life - or the benefits I have compared to previous generations of women. But I long for the time when we can have it all without having to do it all - career development, childrearing, housework, eldercare - 24/7 and with a smile.

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