Women face a "nappy wall" – not a "glass ceiling"

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Thursday 14th June 2012

The head of a leading girls’ schools association has called for girls to be “ambitious” in their relationships and to choose husbands who’ll “share the load” at home.

Helen Fraser, chief executive of the Girls’ Day School Trust, told the trust’s annual conference yesterday: “I was intrigued by Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg’s comment in a speech last year that ‘the most important career choice you’ll make is who you marry.’

“Is this what we should be making space for our girls to learn? That what too many women face nowadays isn’t a ‘glass ceiling’ because of their sex, but a ‘nappy wall’ if they choose to have a child as well as a career? That if you want children and a career, a partner who shares the load at home really, really matters?”

Helen Fraser’s words make sense in theory – but the trouble is that they don’t necessarily make sense in practice. In the first heady days of a relationship who on earth quizzes their partner about how they’re going to juggle careers and children several years down the line? Not me, anyway.

When we got married, me and my husband couldn’t even agree on the logistics of where we were going to live, let alone whose turn it was to cook supper. He’d just started his own business near Manchester and I was a news reporter in London. He couldn’t move his company and I couldn’t find a comparable job, so we spent the first years of our marriage shuttling back and forth to see each other at weekends.

And as for sharing the load at home, my husband’s always been very happy to do his bit. But the only problem is that he’s hardly ever here. In the depths of the economic downturn his business takes him to the Far East virtually every month, so he’s thousands of miles away more often than not. And sadly, despite the wonders of modern technology, he can’t do the laundry or take the rubbish out on Skype.

PS. With the shops still full of red, white and blue bunting to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, fashion chain Oasis has the wittiest windows of all (see above). Check the Grenadier Guard in a bearskin!

2 comments so far

  • Had the kids early, raised them myself and am now finally embarking on a writing career. Of course, if I had to live in the real world, and the real work place, I’d be completely unemployable after being a freelance editor and proofer on an ad hoc basis, and after running the husband’s office for donkey’s years.

    I was lucky though, this did work brilliantly for me, and the husband did his share, too. I can’t help feeling I’ve had the life of Reilly.

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