Economic issues · Gender Relations · Sex Differences

Why women work

As an overture, it is proper to define the specific type of working woman this post is directed towards.

To be clear, it is not directed at married women who provide supplementary income further to their main domestic duties; nor towards those women whose children have entered adulthood and left home. It is also not directed at those women who, through any cause whatsoever, find themselves single.

Instead, the succeeding references to ‘women’ will primarily concern those married women who take pride in working full-time; while their young children are deposited in day-care five days per week. In short, this post will consider what truly actuates the ‘career hag’ in her professional life.

The common reasons cited

Some of the main reasons cited in defence of women working, include:

  1. “Women must work to support a family”

The modern cost of raising a family is too expensive, the argument goes, and it is essential for there to be two income earners. As such, women need to work full-time alongside their husbands.

There are two major issues with this argument. First, full-time working women often spend more than half of their income on day-care costs. In many cases, day-care costs render it less financially expedient for a woman to work five days per week than three.

Second and while it is true that financial freedom–owning your own house outright and supporting a family–is more difficult than in the past, the causes for this problem are never seriously examined. The challenges faced by single breadwinners in supporting a family are not accidental; they are deliberate. Up until the 1960’s, working men were often paid a family wage: a sufficient income unto themselves, their wives and their children. Then, over the course of the 1970’s and 1980’s, the family wage came to be prohibited: a married man with 4 children earning a higher income than a single woman for the same work, became unlawful ‘discrimination’.

This is reflected in section 6 of the Sexual Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth):

6  Discrimination on the ground of marital or relationship status

             (1)  For the purposes of this Act, a person (in this subsection referred to as the discriminator) discriminates against another person (in this subsection referred to as the aggrieved person) on the ground of the marital or relationship status of the aggrieved person if, by reason of:

                     (a)  the marital or relationship status of the aggrieved person….

the discriminator treats the aggrieved person less favourably than, in circumstances that are the same or are not materially different, the discriminator treats or would treat a person of a different marital or relationship status.

Yet there is scarcely a woman who has even questioned the ramifications of these changes. Which have allowed (and continue to allow) corporations to effectively halve the wages of employees for the same work. As there has been no pushback to this, women who lament the financial hurdles faced by single breadwinner families are feigning their grumbles–they do not actually want to solve the problem. For if they did, those women would be calling for a return to the family wage.

2. “Women need to be strong”

The following comments made by a female colleague in a recent conversation, very much capture this view:

Personally, it is important for my young girls to understand that women have to work. Women have to be strong. They need to be able to stand on their own two feet: ‘Prince Charming’ is not going to come to rescue them.

These comments are misguided as by nature, women do not exist to stand on their ‘own two feet’. Frankly, they exist to serve men and propagate the human species. Which is precisely why women obsess over falling in love with men, garnering their attention and pleasing them.

A woman standing on her ‘own two feet’ tends to run contrary to this true purpose. The loyalty of a wife, in many cases, exists in inverse proportion to her earning power. This is because if a woman does not fundamentally need her husband–from a financial perspective–there is less of what would practically bind the couple together, once the initial sexual attraction and excitement has invariably dimmed.

On a related note, the following is worth keeping in mind. There is scarcely a woman who has been rejected or dumped for being weak, or not working, while she abounds in those most appealing of feminine qualities. And yet, the reverse has been true of many men who became unemployed during a relationship; a dynamic that further belies the notion of women needing to be ‘strong’.

3. “Women need to have intellectual stimulation”

Many also emphasise the emotional challenges of rearing young children, insisting it to be a “mind numbing” duty. From this, follows the corollary of women needing to work to obtain intellectual stimulation.

This is perhaps the most compelling of the above arguments: raising young children can be emotionally draining and induce depression even among loving, wholesome mothers.

However, it is generally untrue that women work to avoid the tedium of motherhood. When you consider the fields in which women predominate–nursing, teaching, events management and administrative roles–objectively speaking, these are by no means the most intellectually rigorous. Compared with say, nuclear physics, chemical engineering or brain surgery.

Professional endeavours aside, let us honestly reflect on the extent to which women seek out intellectual stimulation. Specifically, how much time do women dedicate to reading great intellectual works of philosophy or politics: by Aristotle, Joseph De Maistre, Russell Kirk; or even by progressive thinkers such as John Stuart Mill, Friedrich Nietzsche or Karl Marx? Certainly far, far less than those hours spent uploading pointless TikTok videos, Instagram posts or discussing the ebbs and flows of their relationships. This is because women, in the words of Arthur Schopenhaur, “prefer trifling matters to the most important.”

As we have seen, women do not fundamentally work out of financial necessity; they do not need to be strong; they are not given to cerebral pursuits. Accordingly, the real reasons for their working must lie elsewhere.

The real reasons

In the final analysis, the real (and main) reasons for which women work seem to be as follows.

In the first place, women–of their own accord and not of men–want to be independent. At times conscious but largely unconscious, women want independence for a quick escape route should their marriages become exceedingly inconvenient, boring, undesirable or limiting in any way.

In the second place, women do not so much work as to achieve financial freedom, as they do to enable materialistic lives. This consists in weekly yoga classes; monthly haircuts and facials; expensive holidays, etc. Women splurge in this manner, also wrote Arthur Schopenhauer, as they are

Intellectually short-sighted, for although her intuitive understanding quickly perceives what is near to her, on the other hand her circle of vision is limited and does not embrace anything that is remote; hence everything that is absent or past, or in the future, affects women in a less degree than men. This is why they have greater inclination for extravagance, which sometimes borders on madness. Women in their hearts think that men are intended to earn money so that they may spend it, if possible during their husband’s lifetime, but at any rate after his death (my emphasis).

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