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That Nobel Prize for Physics Announced Today October 2, 2018

Posted by Tomboktu in Equality, Gender Issues, Science.

Dr Donna Strickland of the University of Waterloo in Canada today became the third woman to win a Nobel Prize in physics since the prize was instituted a century ago. Nice timing, as it comes the day after the story broke about a male physics professor, Alessandro Strumia, claiming that “physics was invented and built by men, it’s not by invitation” and being suspended by CERN, the European nuclear research centre that straddles the French–Swiss border, for his remarks.

Normally, a university with a faculty member who wins a Nobel Prize can expect to bask in a secondary glow from the reflected shine that their high-flying staff member brings, especially if it is not one of the scientific elite universities, but the University of Waterloo is also receiving some less warm scrutiny: you see, Dr Strickland is not a full professor. The commentary on twitter that I have seen is based on the assumption that if a man had done her work, he would be a full professor at this stage of his career. It appears that there is a bit more to the situation this this because Dr Strickland has not applied for a full professorship, but that observation has led to further scrutiny: why not — what is it in UW or its Physics Department that has discouraged such a leading talent from putting herself forward?



Trivia: A tax system puzzle December 31, 2017

Posted by Tomboktu in Bits and Pieces, Gender Issues.
1 comment so far

Paddy Healy’s comment (here) on the post about The future of work looks very much like the past… reminds me of a puzzling piece of data I saw during the year. (Now, there’s a line to make the heart skip with joy!)

A paper by Seán Kennedy (of the Revenue Commissioners) and Yosuke Jin, David Haugh and Patrick Lenain (of the OECD) uses access to the full Irish income tax data to quantify economic mobility in Ireland between 1997 and 2012 (55-page PDF available here).

For those of us concerned with economic inequality, the most interesting tables show the distribution across the population, and the extent of mobility from the bottom 10% percent to the top 10% (and all brackets at 20%, 30%, etc., between) and vice versa. Other tables show more detail on industrial sector, tax type (i.e. PAYE v. self-assessed), etc.

But there is one table which puzzles me. It shows transitions in personal status between 2007 and 2012. I can see how a married couple tax unit would become a widow or widower tax unit (0.7% of the married two-earners and 2.3% of the married one-earner tax units, respectively), and I can understand a single male tax unit or a single female tax unit becoming one of the two types of married tax unit (15.8% of the single males and 8.1% of the females changed status).

Here’s the bit that puzzles: the able shows that 0.6% of the widower tax units in 2007 had become widow tax units in 2012 and 0.1% of the widow tax units had become widower tax units in 2012. What quirk of the tax system produces that outcome? Not only was this before gender recognition, but even if gender recognition had been in place, those percentages would seem unrealistic. (And the same table shows that the change from single male tax units to single female tax units and vice versa was zero.)

Springsteen’s latest stand reminds me… April 12, 2016

Posted by Tomboktu in Equality, Gender Issues.
1 comment so far

Bruce Springsteen was in the news — even on RTÉ — over the weekend because he cancelled a concert in North Carolina in response to that state’s new law banning trans people from going to a public toilet for their true gender. (An aside: did the legislators really think this through? Will the women among them really be comfortable when a trans man with a beard arrives into the women’s toilet at their favourite restaurant, and how will the male legislators feel when a trans woman — but whom they deem is still a man — arrives wearing a dress into the gents’ toilet at the stadium during the ball game, as they have legislated? And, actually, those two questions I just asked are completely fucked up: the real issue is how the trans people in those situations feel. But that clearly mattered for nothing with the legislators in that state.)

Springsteen’s stance prompts a question: What would Springsteen think of Ireland?

Actually, we’re not doing too bad. The core of our law on gender recognition is among the most advanced in the world. There are two caveats to that, but our law genuinely is pretty damn good. Caveat no. 1 is substantial: the core applies if you’re aged 18 or over; caveat no. 2 is pedantic: that core of the law is among the most advanced, albeit we’re not the only country with a law as advanced (but it’s not the Olympics, so tied for first place is perfectly fine!).

That ‘core’ is that you can get official legal recognition of your true gender simply by declaring it on the prescribed forms in the prescribed way, all by your oney-ow self. The key point is what items not in that last sentence: no doctor, no psychologist, no endocrinologist, no psychiatrist (nor priest nor granny) is needed for you to acquire from the State the documents you need to live your life in the gender you identify as your true gender.

It is, however, ‘core’ because it doesn’t apply in any way of you’re under 16, and if you are aged 16 or 17 it applies with hoops and legal loops that remove any realistic prospect of it giving you any rights in practice: firmly no gender recognition for under 16s and pretend gender recognition for 16 & 17 year olds.

And here is a remarkable fact: the young people who are the victims of this perverse regime recognise and welcome the progressive, advanced, leading elements of our country’s law.

But neither are they victims of Stockholm Syndrome, beholden to those who imprison them. Two weeks ago those young trans people published a clear-headed, shocking, and forward-looking report on their situation, experience and identity (PDF, 28 pages, available here).

Clear-headed? Read this from the report:

One individual suggested that the exclusion of young people from the current legislation creates the impression that, as far as the Irish state is concerned, trans children do not exist.

Any group that can recognise the immense strength of a law that victimises them, and articulate both its key strength and its key weakness is wonderfully lucid in its analysis. In fact, they display far more sophistication than some of the legislators who put them in their current awful situation. It is clear from some of the debates in the Seanad that some of the members of our upper house did not understand the basic purpose of the Gender Recognition Act and confused irreversible surgery with an administrative process involving only legal records.

Shocking? Read this:

One trans student was prevented from attending a school trip until they had obtained permission from all other participants.

I will leave that with no further comment.

Forward-looking? I quote a two-sentence paragraph, but for me it is the second sentence that zings:

Amend the Gender Recognition Act 2015 to specifically acknowledge intersex identities following consultation with, and directed by the views of, intersex people as to what system of legal recognition would be preferable. Legislate to protect intersex infants from medically unnecessary surgeries.

Think about that second sentence. Imagine (if it doesn’t apply to you) that you’ve just reached puberty and it is all wrong. Now imagine that 12 years ago (or 14 or 15) somebody decided to do surgery on you to put you into a category that it now transpires was wrong?

And the critiques were not directed only at the hetero majority. My own group — cis, gay males — were justifiably criticised:

One young person stated: “LGBT societies are often cis-male dominated. These guys don’t really understand trans issues….so there is no way they are going to get my non-binary identity.” For many non-binary persons, it is particularly upsetting having to explain and justify themselves in an environment which is meant to be safe and affirming.”

Wonderful, clear-headed thinking. We need more of that.

Measuring the Gender Pay gap… or not… June 5, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Gender Issues, Irish Politics.
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Here’s a small straw in the wind which indicates something troubling… this from the Equality Authority and the ESRI’s Gender and the Quality of Work: From Boom to Recession report, part of the Equality Research Series, page xii:

The scale of the changes in employment rates and earnings since 2007 mean that for evidence-based policy, it is essential that changes in employment and pay among men and women across the economy are monitored adequately. Yet exchequer figures on public service numbers are not provided on a gender disaggregated basis, and gender-differentiated statistics on pay have been a casualty of cuts in public expenditure in Ireland. The National Employment Survey (NES) which provided the figures for monitoring the gender pay gap was discontinued in 2009, and the new Earnings, Hours and Employment Costs Survey (EHECS) does not include information on the gender of employees. Therefore there are no national figures on the gender pay gap published for 2011 and 2012, a crucial period in wage development in Ireland.

Some might think that convenient. And it continues:

For future years, the CSO plans to produce a dataset that covers broadly the same grounds as the NES, by combining Revenue Commissioners’ data, QNHS and Census data


Despite some signs of recovery in the labour market, it is likely that the analysis in the report has not measured the full extent of the recession and cuts in public expenditure on gender differences. For example, the Haddington Road Agreement (in May 2013) introduced for public sector workers further significant cuts in pay, increases in working hours and changes to work scheduling and flexibility in the form of adjustments to job-sharing and flexi-time arrangements. These changes have potential implications for gender differences in working conditions, yet there was no gender impact assessment of either the Haddington Road Agreement or the preceding Croke Park Agreement. It will be equally important to measure gender outcomes in the labour market when Ireland emerges from recession and austerity.

Women employees ‘accepting’ less remuneration than men for the same roles? April 15, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Feminism, Gender Issues, Workers Rights.

Ignore the fluff in much of this report and check this out, from the Irish Times, in relation to a Employment Market Monitor from CPl.

The survey also found that 40 per cent of employers said that women generally accept less remuneration than men for equal roles, particularly in the tech sector, while the monitor points to a strong first quarter for job listings, with the level of jobs posted in the science, engineering & supply chain segment showing the strongest growth since early 2013.

What, one wonders, is the definition of ‘accept’ used in that statement?

Kimberlé Crenshaw at the LSE March 27, 2014

Posted by Oireachtas Retort in Gender Issues, racism.
1 comment so far

Just last night and now online

Intersectionalism has stirred plenty of heat and also many positives on the left, within feminism, here and on both side of the Atlantic. So it may be useful get past the call outs, strawmen, vampire castles and hear from the women who coin the idea way back in 1989.


Audio available here

Awkward question on trans rights. November 18, 2013

Posted by Tomboktu in Gender Issues, Human Rights, Inequality, LGBT Rights.
1 comment so far

The government was asked last week to explain what it is doing to recognise transgendered people’s rights. The UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) included a question on the issue to the State in its list of issues it wants Ireland to explain at the periodoc review next year of Ireland’s obligations under the International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights.

It is now six years since the High Court found that Irish law breaches European human rights standards on the right of a transgender person to obtain a birth certificate in their true gender. That was followed by a government decision to set up an advisory group — consisting of civil servants — to prepare a report, which was published in July 2011. (My post on that is here.)

It took a further two years to produce the Heads of Bill, in July 2013.

The HRC has asked the government to provide “detailed information on the steps taken to issue birth certificates to transgendered persons” (Link to Word document here). The government will have plenty of “outputs” to report to the Human Rights Committee:

  • the establishment of the advisory group,
  • publication of its report,
  • decision of cabinet on the heads of bill,
  • publication of heads of bill, and
  • discussion of them by the Oireachtas Committee on Education and Social Protection.

It would not surprise me to see the Oireachtas Committee put under some backroom pressure to get a report of its hearings out so that there is another “output” by the time the HRC holds its hearings.

I hope the HRC puts the Irish officials who appear before it under close scrutiny about a new clause it introduced between the publication of a the report of the advisory committee and the publication of the heads of bill. That provision would allow sporting organisations to prohibit trans people from participating in some acivities. Now, there are pros and cons in such a provision, but their introduction into the heads of bill stinks. It has nothing to do with the issuing of a new birth certificate and the processes and requirements for that, and lies well outside the expertise of the Department of Social Protection. It amounts to a change in anti-discrimination law, although is not framed as such. Tellingly, the Department of Social Protection introduced a new proposal to allow discrimination in one area because of a person’s gender identity or the fact that they are transgendered without addressing the need for proposals to prohibit discrimination in other areas. I would not be surprised if it were dropped during the passage of the bill as a “concession” to trans people while leaving the core proposals that are hurtful and demonstrate a lack of any understanding by the drafters of the human cost of what they say should be enacted into law.

The second question that the HRC has asked will provide not so much an opportunity as a need for weasling by the State. The HRC asks “how transgender organizations have been included in such process, including in relation to the Gender Recognition Bill”. No doubt, the government will tell the Human Rights Committee that TENI (Transgender Equality Network Ireland) made a submission to the advisory group which was considered in preparing the final report, and has appeared before the Oireachtas to speak about the issue a number of times. They will probably also refer to the “engagement” with trans organisations by the Minister when she spoke at the Transgender Europe conference in Dublin in 2012.

I expect that the Department’s reply to the HRC will not record that

  1. the advisory committee did not include a single representative of trans people,
  2. the report and heads of bill do not comply with European human rights standard and
  3. the Minister has refused to meet TENI herself.

I hope the officials are called to account on that and squirm while explaining their approach.

* — ** — ** — ** — ** — ** — ** — *

TENI’s submission to the Human Rights Committee sets out in stark terms why action is needed, and needed urgently, and why the Government’s leisurely pace is itself an offence.

(a) Access to services: Formal, legal recognition of one’s identity – by the issuance of an accurate and correct birth certificate – is the gateway for enjoying numerous foundational rights in Ireland. Irish transgender persons who, on the basis of their expressed gender identity, seek to avail of important public services are frequently denied access because the Irish state only recognises the sex and identity assigned to them at birth. In Ireland, obtaining, inter alia, social security, Personal Public Service Numbers and marriage certificates all require the presentation of a birth certificate. The failure of the Irish state to issue new birth certificates to transgender persons means that, in order to access these foundational services, transgender people must present an official document stating that they are somebody other than their true self. Transgender people in Ireland cannot access services on the basis of their self-identified gender, even if they have lived in that gender for the greater part of their life.

The current legal situation creates an impossible and unfair choice for Irish transgender persons: the right to self-determination and dignity, or economic survival. Some transgender individuals ultimately decide to forgo their most basic rights because of the impossibility of presenting in a gender identity not their own. Others choose to access services on the basis of their birth-assigned identity and frequently confront widespread bigotry and discrimination.

(b) Restrictions on travel: The failure of the Irish state to issue new birth certificates restricts the ability of transgender people to travel. In this regard, journeys aboard can be particularly challenging. The 2008 Passports Act gives a transgender person the right to apply for a passport with their correct gender marker. However, the fact that a person’s birth certificate will not match the passport they are requesting means that issuing passports has, despite the existence of a clear legal right, become inconsistent and arbitrary. TENI has worked with people who have had difficulty obtaining a new passport. A transgender male who attempted to access a new passport but was told that not enough time had passed since his transition to apply for a passport with the male gender marker. When the individual tried to reapply with a female gender marker, he was told that he would need to provide “proof of use” of his female gender marker. In addition, many trans people are forced to pay the cost of a ten-year passport in order to obtain a two-year passport.

(c) Discrimination by state and non-state actors: Lack of recognition legitimises discrimination. Examples of prejudice which transgender persons experience from state actors include inappropriate and degrading questions, refusals to respect expressed gender identity and wilful misunderstanding. A transgender woman told TENI how, while attending a community care clinic, a member of staff had insisted upon loudly and publically calling her by her former male name. The individual recalled how “the room was packed and the laughing and comments were unbearable.” One woman received a phone call from Social Welfare querying her change of name and gender. She explained her transition, and the government agent laughed, said ‘You’ll never be a woman!’ and then hung up. (TENI has heard several similar accounts from people across Ireland.) An Irish transgender woman returning from abroad recalled how her letters to update her Irish bank account and Social Welfare with her change of gender and name were ignored: “The Social Welfare Department sent me a tax certificate in my old male name and informed my new employer of the details.”

(d) Detrimental effect on young people: The failure to issue a new birth certificate may have an especially negative impact on transgender youth. Transgender youth are particularly vulnerable to peer bullying. The perpetuation of young transgender persons’ exclusion through the failure to legally recognise their gender identity reinforces the stress and isolation which Irish transgender youth often feel. TENI has documented the story of a young transgender male who is surrounded by supportive family and friends. However, he is currently required to wear a skirt into school each day because his Principal does not recognise his gender identity.

The refusal to issue new birth certificates also creates significant difficulties for transgender students in applying for university in Ireland. Transgender people regularly miss out on college placements, as the Central Applications Office (CAO), the body responsible for assigning university places in Ireland, is unable to cope with transgender identities. One student transitioned and subsequently decided to re-sit his Leaving Certificate Exam (Ireland’s end-of-secondary-level-education national exam). He gained the required grades for his chosen course of study. The grade the student achieved for English in his first examination results should have been carried over and added to his results the second time he sat the exam. However, the CAO noted the discrepancy in name and gender and assumed an error had been made. In such cases, the CAO office dismisses the application without query. The young man missed out on his college place. TENI has heard of several such cases.

The Government’s Draft Heads of Bill for gender recognition excludes people under the age of 18 from applying for the rights contained within. This is in conflict with the recently passed Children’s Referendum, where the Irish people voted to amend Article 42A of the Constitution to read: “The State recognises and affirms the natural and imprescriptible rights of all children and shall, as far as practicable, by its laws protect and vindicate those rights.”

Wo(man) in space…and the Mercury 13 June 21, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Gender Issues, Science.

The news that of eight new astronauts announced in the US, four are women is good on many different levels, not least in that this is the 30th anniversary of the launch into space of the first US female astronaut – Sally Ride.

There’s the thought that, as the Guardian notes, the places these people may go will be truly historic.

…these new candidates would help lead the first human mission to an asteroid in the 2020s, and then Mars, some time in the following decade.

Some may dismiss the importance of this, and yet I think it has an exemplary effect. For every woman astronaut, fast-jet pilot, commercial pilot and so on and so forth it pushes back certain attitudes about supposed limitations on opportunity and ambition for women. Interestingly two of the four appear to have civilian backgrounds.

It brings to mind another piece of hidden history, that of the Mercury 13, thirteen women who underwent much the same physiological testing as the male astronauts who were dubbed the Mercury 7 in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The Mercury 13 were part of a privately funded research programme.

Although only one passed the three phases of tests used by NASA…

In the end, thirteen women passed the same Phase I physical examinations that the Lovelace Foundation had developed as part of NASA’s astronaut selection process.

Unquestionably more would have passed all the tests had the Navy not withdrawn the use of its facilities to complete them.

As the wiki piece notes, this resulted in a special Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science and Astronautics to consider the issue of whether and how women were discriminated against on the basis of gender.

That nothing ensued on foot of the Subcommittee hearings is telling, as is the fact that it took until 1983 before the United States would send a woman into space – almost two decades after the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova (for the USSR).

Of course subsequently women have become an integral part of the US space programme (notably only three Russian women cosmonauts have actually made it into space, by contrast only this last month the Chinese launched a male/female crew into orbit) with shuttle Commanders and so on. But, this most recent development feels as if it is a genuine… well… step forward.

By the way, Jerrie Cobb, the woman who passed all three test phases, has had a remarkable career.

Gender roles and perception… May 21, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Gender Issues.

I’ve been looking at gender and the domestic space recently, and more on that soon, but this from a Pew poll from 2008 back caught my eye. When asked about whether they prefer women or men in various roles:

Public attitudes are mixed. Among respondents who have a preference, men are favored in some roles (airline pilot, surgeon, police officer, lawyer); women in others (elementary school teacher, banker); and the public is evenly divided about whether its family doctor should be a man or a woman.

Perhaps more positively:

Notably, however, for all seven of these positions, a sizable share of the public says it has no gender preference – ranging from the 33% who say this about teachers to the 54% who say it about surgeons.

I’m going to go looking to see if the five years that have elapsed since then has seen any change in polling data.

Talking about childcare… and April 19, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Gender Issues.

…feminism and motherhood, is it just me or does the following read a little askew? Fionola Meredith talks about how…

It is an inconvenient truth that young children do best with consistent, one-to-one daily attention from a loving parent, usually the mother, as opposed to being rounded up in packs and deposited in full-time daycare from dawn to dusk.


Before the missiles start flying, let me make it clear that the question of who brings up the baby is not the sole responsibility of the mother. (It sounds obvious, but it’s important to spell this out clearly, because one of the main symptoms of maternal guilt is a stupid, bloodhound-like tendency to selectively sniff out offence, and react with hysteria, regardless of what has actually been said.)

A committed father, prepared to put in the necessary hours of talking and explaining and playing and cuddling, is just as equipped to do this vital job.

To be honest at one point I’d have been moved by that argument – at least the parent bit, not the mother bit. It makes sense, doesn’t it?

And yet five years on having had a child in a creche for a shade under three or four of those years I’m not convinced. I think the socialisation aspect of creche’s is under examined in such discussions – she has developed a strong peer group in the community she lives in, has developed, yes, friendships. But even if that anecdotal observation is incorrect and the benefits of either creche or parent/other are fairly finely balanced it is at least open to question.

And I think the article’s negative line is self-evident… ‘rounded up in packs… deposited’. And so on. Indeed in an effort to bring some empirical evidence she writes:

A 20-year research study from the University of Pennsylvania, published last year, showed that the more mental stimulation a child receives from parents by the age of four, the more developed their language and cognitive abilities will be in the decades ahead. You only get one go at this, and it may mean the difference between a bigger life for your child and a smaller one.

I wonder how that different from the mental stimulation that is afforded in the context of a creche? Could it be that both are in their own, and different ways, possibly able to offer reasonably good outcomes? What is interesting is that in this report in the Guardian there’s an absolutely crucial point made about the UP report which is not referenced in Meredith’s article.

Danese added that this kind of research highlighted the “tremendous role” that parents and carers had to play in enabling children to develop their cognitive, social, and emotional skills by providing safe, predictable, stimulating, and responsive personal interactions with children.

Note the term ‘carers’ as well as parents. Indeed the piece doesn’t make any reference whatsoever to the overall context, whether it is home or creche or other, or indeed the superiority of parents over carers, it is more concerned with the nature of the interactions.

And what of this – again from the Guardian?

Bruce Hood, an experimental psychologist who specialises in developmental cognitive neuroscience at the University of Bristol, said his advice to parents was just to “be kind to your children. Unless you raise them in a cardboard box without any stimulation or interaction, then they will probably be just fine.”

In the article by Meredith a note of reality is introduced.

It’s also self-evidently true that there are many, many families who do not have the luxury of one parent opting out of work, for at least part of the time, to devote themselves to their child’s early years.

And then unfortunately jettisoned.

Yet the fact remains that plenty of parents do have that option open to them. I’m not saying it’s easy, or convenient, or without repercussions for future career advancement and earning power. But for these mothers and fathers, it is a choice, and it comes down to a toss-up between what is best for them, as individuals, and what is best for their child. They are entirely free to make this decision.

And then there is the following:

Ironically enough, it is this wilful denial of the truth that increases a full-time working mother’s sense of guilt when she drops her baby off at the baby-farm. If she could simply admit that she has chosen to put her own needs first, instead of repressing that socially inadmissible thought, I bet she would go off to work feeling a lot happier.

Note that for all the pro-forma disclaimer earlier in the piece it is the full time working mother who earns the ire of the author, not the father. It is she – the mother – who is in ‘wilful denial’, who must have a ‘sense of guilt’, must turf the ‘baby’, off at the ‘baby-farm’ and must come to terms with the ‘socially inadmissible’ line that she is putting her needs first.

And if Meredith genuinely believes that this situation is so abysmally sub-optimal for children as she seems to describe then in all conscience shouldn’t she actually want the ‘full-time working mother’s sense of guilt’ to increase, to presumably the point where she would stay at home rather than going to work more happily having expressed it.

In a way this seems to me to be more a middle class analysis. Indeed the feminist perspective of the piece is hard to discern. In the first paragraph Meredith argues that:

As a feminist, I’ve discovered there are certain things you are not permitted to say. And the most dreadful crime in the book, the very biggest no-no, is to say something – however indirectly – that provokes an attack of maternal guilt.


Increasingly, and absurdly, it seems that the role of a feminist – if she is to be tolerated at all – is enthusiastically to applaud any decision that any woman makes, whether she agrees with it or not. The trouble with such witlessly indiscriminate cheer-leading (you go, girl!) is that it comes at the expense of honesty and authentic debate.

And the piece is headed ‘Feminism shouldn’t mean lying about motherhood’.

Interestingly in this piece in the Belfast Telegraph on much the same topic she references one Jonas Himmelstrand, a Swedish research…

…whose report on childcare was recently presented to MPs by the pressure group Mothers at Home Matter, warned that long hours in nurseries lead to a severe decline in psychological health and educational standards.

For those of us with longish memories that name Himmelstrand will ring a bell. For if one looks here one will see a piece on the CLR which I wrote some years back about that same J Himmelstrand addressing the Iona Institute on childcare.

Uh-oh. For the record Meredith appears to have good approaches on a range of other issues, but for myself I don’t think those who work outside the home, or in it, whether women or men, should feel or have to feel ‘guilt’. These are individual choices which unfortunately this society does not enable in a satisfactory fashion.

Obviously there is the necessity to afford as much individual time as is possible to a child, and to maximise that. And for most working people it is possible to maximise time with their offspring even in the constraints where two parents are working a 40 hour working week. There should be more and all progressives should be working towards a much more flexible framework within which that can be achieved.

But that is a different issue as to what appears to be essentially a call for (re) gendered roles in regard to parenting and an (implicit) call to something approaching a rather dubious ‘natural’ order.

And absolutely essential to remember that the situation of two parents working 40 hour weeks will seem almost impossibly utopian for those who are single parents or who are working shift jobs or where any number of factors intervene.

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