Women’s lib in the last few decades has not been saying that women should give up being mothers for the sake of having a career. But it’s certainly been implied and, in the ‘liberal’ advanced countries it has caused many thousands of women to at least delay having children until they’d reached a good career position and, in some cases, of highly ambitious women, not to have any at all.
There are already many old women in care homes who are deeply envious of children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren visiting their fellow inmates. One of the biggest growth areas in economic life in future years will be the application of gene-editing to the DNA of men and women who are identified as being infertile early on in their marriage.
Just like men, only a minority of women are highly ambitious but, unlike men, a substantial majority of women want children. Yes, housewifery in the typical urban and suburban home these days can be very boring once the children are socializing. It means that an interesting job is highly desirable — but not a top job necessarily and not without the chance of having children as well.
Under an entirely erroneous headline in my paper today, “Why women are no longer the happier sex”, the story is based on the Happiness Index which the Office for National Statistics (ONS) started some four years ago. Although the difference has diminished in that period, women are still happier than men.
The disparity has declined from 0.5% in 2011 to 0.3% today. This is not surprising. Women are continuing to be pressured to have a high positions in politics and business corporations where they meet stress, alcohol consumption and wayward sex at far higher levels than in more ordinary jobs.
Also, as automation steadily takes over many unhealthy and dangerous jobs that men used to do, men are living healthier and longer lives — both compatible with happier lives. Thus, on both counts it would be very surprising if well-being doesn’t equalise between men and women in the decades to come.