Over the past year our society has witnessed significant change. Through the combined efforts of campaigns like Time’s Up and the #MeToo movement, women are questioning and re-evaluating their positions in society in a way that has not happened before. However, despite a growing trend of challenging societal norms, a British Social Attitudes survey recently found the majority of people believe a young mother’s place still remains in the home.
The conclusions of the survey are confusing as whilst 7% of the 3,988 participants believe mothers of under-5s should have full-time jobs, 72% disagreed that men are supposed to bring in the income and women are supposed to look after the family and household. It shows there is growing support for women entering the workplace but this does not necessarily translate to maternal employment.
Women should have the freedom to choose, just like any of their male counterparts could.
But what do these statistics represent? Does it show Britain is further back in attitudes toward gender equality than we thought and hoped? Or is there more to it? I do not believe this survey shows there has not been any progression; rather it represents to me the areas in which change is still necessary.
With the rise of what I feel is a new brand of feminism, women are getting more choice, which this survey shows is not always being extended to the household. There are some women who want to stay at home, there are some who want to go back to work and some who want to do both. Depending on what women want to do, they should have the freedom to choose, just like any of their male counterparts could. Just because women have always traditionally stayed at home it does not mean it is the correct option.
A child is of equal responsibility to both their mother and father
As a woman who is attending university and is hoping to have a successful career I do not want to lose out or be judged when I have worked hard just because I want to or may have children in the future. I would argue that new fathers have never been questioned or judged for returning to work so soon after the birth of their child, and when an attitude of equality is applied women should not be judged for doing the same. A child is of equal responsibility to both their mother and father. Women who choose to go back to their careers are in no way less important as mothers who stay at home with them, but sadly this view is all too common.
Recently it has become more acceptable for men to stay at home with the children which is the first step to breaking down the stereotype. It can only be viewed as a positive that more men are choosing to stay at home rather than work as it helps to subvert current expectations. It shows more fluidity and the interchanging nature of the roles of men and women, mothers and fathers in today’s culture.
On the one hand, this survey is acknowledging and accepting changing roles, and on the other it is looking back to outdated values
The survey at its heart encapsulates the UK’s position concerning women and what their role should be. It shows a conflict in the UK which is split between old traditional attitudes and new ideas. On the one hand, it is acknowledging and accepting the changing roles, and on the other it is looking back to outdated values. I strongly believe with the advancement of social campaigns and the increase in men staying at home it will help attitudes to shift further allowing women to make decisions about their lives and careers without fear of being judged.