Monday, July 23, 2012

French mothers don't feel guilt

There has recently been much speculation in the press about the pregnancy of the new CEO of Yahoo!, Marissa Mayer, with journalists debating over whether Mayer can have a family and still be CEO. According to Druckerman's book, this would not even be a question in France. One of the major differences between French mothers and American mothers is that French mothers don't feel guilty about returning to work. Most of them apparently stay home for three months, lose their baby weight, and then go back to work, secure in the knowledge that their child is being cared for by trained professionals at a creche.



Mothers, in fact, expect to work; stay-at-home mothers are viewed as dull and uninteresting, and get ignored at parties. Women admit that they get bored staying at home with their children and that working is more interesting. In addition, they feel that it is safer to stay employed because there is no guarantee that their husbands won't leave them. If they have a job, they are more financially secure. Even women in government are expected to return to work after the appropriate time; one female minister was criticized for returning too early, not for returning at all.


What probably helps French mothers is the existence of the cheap, well-run state creches and preschools. The French admit that two incomes are needed in most families, and are willing to pay the taxes needed to provide children with care and parents with a safety net. This care allows any mother, not just female CEO's, to go back to the jobs that they enjoy and need.





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