Sun, Mar 13, 2005 - Page 9 News List

UK's 'don't want it all' gals turn to tradition

THE GUARDIAN , LONDON

It is no longer a case of trying to have it all, nor even of struggling to do it all.

For young women in Britain happiness and the desire to spend time with their children and on themselves are top priorities, a survey published this week suggests -- even at the cost of reduced career ambitions and a lower income.

Women in their late 20s polled across the UK made clear that, after watching their exhausted mothers trying against the odds to balance work and home life, they are not prepared to attempt the same juggling act. Instead, the survey indicates, those who grew up in the 1980s want to "downshift," working in jobs that interest rather than overwhelm them, and spending more time with their children than their parents did.

turning back

The group dubbed the "don't want it all" generation by New Woman magazine, which commissioned the poll, appears to be turning back to a more traditional social model in which men are the main breadwinners while women have prime responsibility for raising children.

Seven out of 10 of 1,500 women questioned in the Young Women's Lifestyle Survey of Great Britain 2005, with an average age of 29, said they did not want to work as hard as their mother's generation. Once they had children -- which most said they wanted to have from age 31 and within marriage -- only one in 10 said they wanted to work full time and put their child into nursery care.

Almost two-thirds said they expected to have to work part-time because of financial demands, but a quarter were already aiming to be at home with their children full-time. A mere 1% expected to regard their career as their top priority once they had children, while 90% said if they had to work full time they would regret missing out on their children's early years.

conclusion

In a conclusion that might make some of their mothers and grandmothers despair, two-thirds of young women felt "a man should be the main provider for his family if possible," with some even more frustrated that women are expected to fulfil too many roles.

Margi Conklin, editor of New Woman magazine, said the findings reflected "a fundamental shift in young women's attitudes towards life and work.

"They've watched their own mothers trying, and often failing, to `have it all,' and decided they `don't want it all.' They don't want to work crazy hours while their children are put into nurseries and their relationships disintegrate under the strain.

"Young women today are increasingly putting their personal happiness before a big salary or a high-powered career. Above anything else, they crave a work-life balance where they can enjoy a fulfilling relationship, raise happy children and have a job that interests them, but doesn't overwhelm them," Conklin said.

Young women's disillusion with the possibility of combining a fulfilling career and family comes in the week when the government's Women and Work Commission found that discrimination and lesser opportunities for women are "deeply ingrained" in British society.

While those polled in the New Woman survey favored the option of working part-time, and wanted interesting jobs, the commission highlighted a shortage of high quality part-time jobs, and found that women often "downshift" after having a baby to work which is lower paid, of lower status and fails to use the skills they have been trained in.

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