Letter: Labour pains of working mums (1)

December 15, 2000

Do working mothers put in far more hours than men ("A crushing workload", Soapbox, THES, December 8)? How can you even ask that question?

I read Susan Bassnett's article with a wry smile as my two children (six and ten) argued in the background.

I have worked in higher education since 1990. I am highly research active and seem to spend most of my life doing things connected with work or thinking about work.

I have had to hold back from going for promotion as I do not have any extra time to spend on trips abroad or long hours at the office. To make up for this, I have moved jobs three times to give myself variety and stimulation.

My husband is a teacher so I do not have the option of not working. I did try part-time work, but found I was doing a lot more than I was being paid for.

Like Bassnett, I have help with housework - an Eastern European au-pair - and just managing this "member of household staff" brings stress.

I work in a department comprising mainly men and, at times, I am incredibly envious of their ability to work when they want to and to move jobs for promotion.

Ultimately, I know it is my choice to do as I do, but it can be incredibly frustrating and I wish the government would do something to help.

Of course, there are great things about having children, it's just that children plus demanding job is very, very hard work and voraciously consumes women's time, energies and career prospects.

Jane Farmer Lecturer, University of Aberdeen

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