Recently, there’s been a lot of talk in the media about the income divide between women and men and for many years there’s been discussion around the worth (or rather lack there of) that we place on stay at home mums. Honestly, whilst I’m totally aware that these issues exist I’ve never given them a great deal of thought. I’ve been quite happy coasting along in our family situation which works for us. But last week my husband and I received our superannuation statements in the mail on the same day. I opened them and was shocked at what I saw. It really made me stop and think.
My husband and I have been in the workforce for the exact same amount of years. For the majority of that time we were earning roughly the same money. Yet, he has DOUBLE the amount of super that I do. Why? Because when my son was born I had a year of maternity leave. Because after that I chose to return to work on a part time basis. Because I’ve decided to take a year of long service leave to be able to take him to and from kinder. These are choices that I will never ever regret, I make them happily, but it’s a real slap in the face when you see those figures on paper, in black and white like that. For me it’s ok, because I have a husband. He works full time and picks up the slack in my earnings. When we retire it will be together and we will have our combined super to support us. But what about single parents? What about those that don’t have a partner to ‘pick up the slack’?
It really comes back to the worth that we place on the role of stay at home parents; hands down the hardest job in the world yet paid the least (or nothing at all). I know this is a big issue and I also know there is no easy answer. If only it were as simple as paying stay home parents for their work, but it’s really not that simple and I get that. I don’t have the answer but what I do know is that the best place we can start is by thinking about it, but questioning it and challenging it. We need to openly talk about this great divide that exists.
At the end of the day, I would happily give up all the money in the world to be a mum. I don’t look at those superannuation figures and regret anything but it sure has got me thinking about those women who aren’t as lucky as me….
What do you think? I might be opening up a can of worms here but I’d really love to hear your thoughts on this!