Telling women they can hold down a top-flight job and raise children themselves is a ‘feminist myth’ and the Government should back off expecting the impossible from Britain’s mums, according to a new report.
The report, written by a leading researcher at the London School of Economics, shows that half of women in high-powered careers are childless.
A number of others farm out their mothering responsibilities to other women, leading to “nominal families”.
The conclusions come in a report for the Centre for Policy Studies by Dr Catherine Hakim, due to be published early next year.
She says the ‘gender pay gap’ only exists because women choose to put their careers on hold to have children and then return to work part-time.
The report, Feminist Myths and Magic Medicine, argues that women are free to choose between entering senior career positions and raising children, but they will not be able to achieve both.
Dr Hakim’s report comes in the wake of a review by the previous Labour government, led by Lord Davies, a former chairman of Standard Chartered Bank.
The review considered recommending that company boards should be forced to comprise at least 40% women.
But Dr Hakim argues that the Equal Pay Act did its job and now the Government should back off trying to force the “social engineering being demanded by feminists and legislators”.
She believes that such policies which seek to promote equality of outcome are “pointless”.
“People are confusing equal opportunities with equal outcomes”, she said.
And the belief that most women want to have the same jobs as men is seen by her as a “flawed assumption”.
Among the other “myths” Dr Hakim dispels in her report are the ideas that men and women have the same career ambitions and that women prefer to be financially independent.
She also disagrees that family-friendly policies make good business sense or are necessary to break any glass ceiling of promotion.
And, in her view, women are not necessarily more co-operative in management than men.
There is no short cut to success for either sex, Dr Hakim argues, as long hours and near total commitment to a career are always necessary for success, regardless of gender.
This last point is echoed by at least one successful businesswoman.
Jessica DeLuca Moore, 35, founding director of online beauty store Cult Beauty, agreed with Dr Hakim’s viewpoint on this issue.
“You’re never going to become the CEO in a job-share”, she said.
And a former career woman says that most women she knows do not see the ultimate value to their lives in a job.
Poppy Pickles, 29, who has worked for auction house Sotheby’s, gave up her career to focus on bringing up her two children.
“Most women I know place a lot more emphasis on other things”, she said.