Female values

Readers' Views No 243, May 2004
OECD Observer

You argue about integrating more women into the workforce to raise productivity, describing them in the same breath as other disadvantaged groups, including the old and the disabled. I wonder how productive all “able” groups are, women or men? Blaming low productivity on those who are not in the workforce seems misplaced in some cases and definitely ignores the economic role of women not in the workforce.

How productive are all public servants, receptionists, back-office secretaries, or nannies, compared with women whose non-stop business is that of looking after a home, including “productive” men? Sure, many women would like to go out to work, as long as they get the same breaks as men. But report after report shows that too often, women get a raw deal in pay and career prospects. Will that change in my lifetime?

So I figure: where would you rather be, at home with your kids, teaching them, or stuck on a commuter train at five euros an hour? I work now, but when I didn’t, a girl asked me if I ever thought about getting a job. I do the same work as you, better, but for no pay, I answered. She was a nanny.

—Bettina Siegel, Copenhagen, Denmark

We welcome your views. Please e-mail Observer@oecd.org if you wish to comment on this letter or on any other issue of concern to the OECD.

©OECD Observer No 243, May 2004

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