Letter: Why women have less time to spare

Share
Related Topics
Sir: In her article about the New Man ("Where do all the New Men go?", 2 September) and in particular in quoting our data on the respective time budgets of full-time-working men and women, Polly Toynbee raises some profoundly important points, a couple of which deserve amplification.

First, there are indeed these very large differences in the discretionary free time available to working men and women, but why exactly? One hypothesis is that it reflects the intransigence of men. But we know from other work that male interest in many traditional female domains - for example in food and in the upbringing of their children - is increasing.

The reconciliation could be that there is "interest" without action, and that whilst it is no longer beneath male dignity to demand a particular brand of grocery product or to express a point of view on the education of their children, it is still beyond their capacities to do the shopping, attend the meetings with teachers or to supervise the homework.

Another possibility is alluded to by Polly Toynbee, namely that the wife/mother/worker is reluctant to cede control over a power base and is thus preventing the participation by eager, willing and able males in the domestic sphere.

Neither in our consulting work nor in our pure research have we had occasion to discover which of these hypotheses is closest to the truth. For policy purposes it is important that we should know.

A final point not really discussed by Polly Toynbee is the consequences of the double or triple loading of responsibilities on females. First, and most obviously, the rise in stress-related diseases among women indicates that the load is taking its toll.

Second, and less widely rehearsed, the people to whom the working mother does seem prepared to turn to relieve at least some of the pressure are the child's grandparents. Three-generation activities are increasing. We also know from our consulting work that the phenomenon of the "granny school pick-up" is developing apace.

The consequence is that there is a significant number of the current generation of children subject to extended family influence - just at the time when our sociology was telling us that such a phenomenon was a thing of the past.

BOB TYRRELL

Chairman

The Henley Centre

London EC4

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

KS2 Teacher required from October

£90 - £120 per annum: Randstad Education Hull: Key Stage 2 Supply Teacher requ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester - Computer Futures

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Computer Futures (an SThree br...

Maths Teacher

£85 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: randstad education require a ...

SEN Teacher - Hull

Negotiable: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education are recruiting for spe...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: Underground, Overground, over the Irish Sea and clever pigs

John Rentoul
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor