Wednesday 13 December 2017

The truth is that it's not a woman's 'right' to work – it is her duty

Unfortunately, far too many females share the minister's opinion of their contribution, writes Emer O'Kelly

Emer O'Kelly

WHEN I was starting out in journalism, I was sent to interview a senior figure on the Confederation of Irish Industries. He had made a speech in which he said, inter alia, that CII was planning a campaign of active encouragement for married women to "return to work" as they were needed in the burgeoning workforce. The implication, among other things, was that there were damn few married women in the workforce already.

When a woman achieved a position of eminence and importance in industry or the professions, it was headline news. There was one woman departmental secretary-general, but she was single; women had to resign from the civil service upon marriage.

There were plenty of female national school principals: one of them told me it was an "ideal job for a woman" because of ridiculously short hours and long holidays. (She actually used the word "ridiculous.") The implication was that it wasn't really an important or responsible job, merely a money tap.

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