Women Careers and Prime Minister’s Actions Not
Let’s not forget ‘women struggling to combine career and family’…said Australia’s new Prime Minister this week. As Annabel Crabb points out in her column in The Age today, he then went on to be as good as his word, by appointing a cabinet with only one woman in it. And she does not have children.
The whole discussion about the under-representation of women in cabinet raises the same points as the under-representation of women in all work places. That is, that caring for children is still seen primarily as women’s work, and prioritising career over family is still only seen by society as being acceptable for men.
There are some jobs that are so all-consuming, that an ideal way to manage them is to have a stay-at-home spouse, of either gender. But, the gender is usually female. When couples separate, the implications of this are significant:
Stay-at-home spouses have had less opportunity to build their own career, and it is difficult to find ways for them to be truly compensated for the earning differential that is a lifelong legacy of how their roles have been divided.
It is also significant because of the impact it has on the relationships between children and the parent who was working more hours and days out of home, and what that means to children for their living arrangements after separation.
Collaborative Family Law Advantage
As a collaborative family law practitioner, I know that collaboration gives both men and women the opportunity to talk about the reality of their ‘former’ life, and how that will impact on their ‘new’ life, without that discussion being dogged by positional point-scoring that is typified by relying on ‘the law’. To me, reverting to ‘the law’ is a last refuge for people who can’t make their own decisions, but in my work I find that people are more than able to do that in most cases.
Properly looking after a spouse who has stayed at home, making arrangements for the children that reflect what they are used to, and the realities of ones own work/family situation is well within the reach of most couples when supported by a collaborative team. So, until our society finds ways to balance roles differently, collaboration can offer a softer landing for separating couples than going down to the court, where nobody cares as much as the couple themselves.
Marguerite Picard, Divorce Lawyer, Accredited Family Specialist, Melbourne, VIC