Bear The Brunt Of Responsibility Essay

The challenge women have long faced in balancing work and family is receiving renewed public attention, with Hillary Clinton highlighting the issue when she talked about her experiences as a young lawyer and mother at a recent appearance in Silicon Valley.

Women continue to bear a heavier burden when it comes to balancing work and family, despite progress in recent decades to bring about gender equality in the workplace. A 2013 Pew Research Center survey found that, among parents with at least some work experience, mothers with children under age 18 were about three times as likely as fathers to say that being a working parent made it harder for them to advance in their job or career (51% vs. 16%).

Analysis of government economic data suggests that most young female workers start their careers at near parity with men in wages. However, the analysis found, women struggle to keep pace with men on this measure as they begin to juggle work and family life.

Younger working mothers are among the most likely to say that being a working parent makes it harder for them to get ahead in their career, according to our 2013 survey. Among working Millennial mothers (ages 18 to 32 in 2013), 58% say that being a working mother makes it harder for them to get ahead at work. Among Millennial fathers who are working, only 19% say that being a working father makes it harder for them to advance at work.

One reason mothers are more likely than fathers to say it’s harder to get ahead in the workplace may be that women are much more likely than men to experience a variety of family-related career interruptions. About four-in-ten working mothers (42%) say that at some point in their working life, they had reduced their hours in order to care for a child or other family member, while just 28% of working fathers say they had done the same; almost as many working mothers (39%) say they had taken a significant amount of time off from work for one of these reasons, compared with about a quarter (24%) of working fathers. And mothers are more likely than fathers to say they quit their job at some point for family reasons, by 27% to 10%.

Among men and women who say that they reduced their work hours to care for a child or family member, women are twice as likely as men to say this hurt their career overall, by 35% to 17%. Similarly, about one-third of women (32%) who took a significant amount of time off from work for family-related reasons say doing this hurt their career, compared with 18% of men.

Mothers don’t regret taking these steps, however. More than 90% of working moms who have either reduced their hours or taken a significant amount of time off from work say they are glad they did so.

Topics: Gender, Work and Employment

  1. Kim Parker is director of social trends research at Pew Research Center.

Aubrey Meyer played a key role in developing the concept of "Contraction and Convergence" (C&C) in the early 1990s. C&C is often hailed as an elegant, fair way to bring down global emissions in that it seeks to formulate the rate at which each country reduces its emissions according to their current per capita emissions. Developing countries would be entitled to increase emissions for a period, but, over time, the aim would be for all these entitlements to converge, thus enabling a net contraction of emissions.

At this time of COP-18, both atmospheric concentrations and emissions from fossil fuel burning are still accelerating upwards. This puts us all at increasing risk of runaway rates of climate change. To deal with this, many people agree we need a rational C&C-based agreement.

CO2 concentrations in 1995 at COP-1 were ~360 ppmv. Now at COP-18 they are ~393. This means we haved added ~70bn tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere in the last 18 years. While this is just under half the ~150 Gt C we have emitted to the atmosphere 1995 - 2012, just over a half of these emissions have returned to the now increasingly saturated 'natural sinks'. The danger of this should focus minds.

The relationship between atmospheric concentrations and emissions is 'stock and flow', like a bath and a tap. It is vital we understand that merely to decelerate the rise in concentrations, emissions rise needs to go into reverse and go downwards. In the analogy, to stop the 'concentrations-bath' from overflowing, we need to turn the 'emissions-tap' right off and we now need to do that very soon, within the next 40 years. Close analysis shows that the quantity of carbon left for burning globally during this period and successfully avoiding dangerous runaway climate change is around 200 Gt C or less.

It is also vital to understand that [a] calculating this amount and [b] how to share it internationally, are not determined by 'economic-analysis', but by the logic of 'truth-and-reconciliation', or C&C. This means rationally accounting for the tonnes of carbon [mostly fossil fuels] that we add to the atmosphere, but within the limit in the UN climate treaty to which all participants at COP-18 have agreed.

C&C in this account creates a 'framework-based-market'. It is 'climate-justice' without vengeance and can resolve the the dilemma at the heart of what has Nicholas Stern rightly calls the 'brutal climate arithmetic'. Without such a framework, 'prices' are ephemeral or even delusional at best. Quite simply, no price is too high for success, as the price of failure is greater.

So, to continue a divisive debate at this stage about 'who should pay?' for climate change is not rational as everybody - indeed the species as a whole - will pay for this failure. This echoes the words of Euripedes, "those whom the Gods would destroy they first drive mad."  In a phrase, the sanity and rationality of C&C are preferable as they are fairer and cheaper.

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