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Women want husbands to be breadwinners; study
London, Feb 18 (IANS):
Published on 19 Feb. 2010 12:05 AM IST
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Young mothers are turning their backs on high-powered careers to raise their children, a media report said Thursday citing a study. Their mothers, or even grandmothers, lived through a time when women fought for full-time work and better pay. But today’s generation is returning to the traditional values of home and family - and looking to men to be the breadwinners, the Daily Mail reported on its website. The about-face was highlighted Wednesday in research presented by leading sociologist Geoff Dench, who has analysed responses to questions asked in the annual British Social Attitudes survey. His analysis comes against a background of growing political pressure on mothers to go out to work. It revealed a striking change in values in the decade since New Labour swept to power. The number of mothers with children under four who thought that family life would suffer if women worked full-time fell in the years before Tony Blair took office, dropping from 43 percent in 1990 to 21 percent in 1998. But by 2002 it was rising and in 2006 had soared to 37 percent. Similarly the number of women in the same category who agreed that most women want a home and children fell between 1994 and 2002 to 15 percent. But in 2006, the last time the question was asked in the survey, that number had rocketed to 32 percent - higher even than back in 1986 when it stood at 20 percent. By far the biggest leap came when women were asked whether they agreed that men and women should have different roles. In 1986, 40 percent of women with children under four said ‘yes’, four years later that had plummeted to 13 percent and by 2002 it had dropped still lower to two percent. In 2006, however, that had jumped back up to 17 percent. On Wednesday Dench, who completed his analysis for the right-leaning Centre for Policy Studies in association with the Hera Trust, said: “Women with young children are going back to the very traditional division of labour in which they want the husband as the breadwinner. “Having tried full-time working themselves they have found the home much more interesting and want to be enabled to have that - especially if the only job they have access to is a dull job.” He said there had been a gradual move back towards more positive evaluations of women’s traditional work in the family and informal community. While mothers have increased the amount of paid work they do, he said this was mostly part-time work, enabling them also to spend time at home. He said evidence pointed to the group fuelling the switch being young mothers aged 18 to 34 - the same age as their mothers were when they fought for the right to work on par with men. “They are rocking against the Baby Boom generation, in many cases their own parents,” he added. “Just as young women led the movement into higher levels of paid work, it seems to be young women who are leading a return to more traditional values.” The number of mothers with children under four working part-time has risen from 10 percent in 1983 to 1986, to 28 percent from 2005 to 2008. In the same category the number working full-time has risen from nine percent to 19 percent. Dench said that the women who said they were happiest appeared to be those who valued the housewife role but also did some paid work. The analysis follows a report from a prominent liberal commentator, which also revealed that far from wanting to be “superwomen who manage everything, plus a high-profiled career”, many women just want to be stay-at-home mothers with their husbands taking the role of breadwinner. Ministers have redoubled efforts to persuade mothers to take jobs in the face of evidence that a big majority of the poorest families are two-parent families in which only the father works. Meanwhile, the Equality and Human Rights Commission and equal pay pressure groups say that mothers are often anxious to go back to work but are pressured into a caring role by lack of flexible working hours, a shortage of affordable daycare and reluctance of men to take over a share of the childcare.

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