The traditional role of women in society has been that of child-bearer and child-carer for generations, even millennia. This role is one of passivity, especially in comparison to the traditional male role of breadwinner and decisionmaker – and a role with consequences for women and gender equality in the modern era. These consequences are visible even as perceptions change for the better over time. But how? And what are the alternatives?
A 2017 report by the Australian government names women's participation in the workforce as an 'economic priority', while a 2020 report illustrated the measurable progress made in increasing Australia's women workforce: since 1966, women went from making up 30% of Australia's workforce to just shy of 50%.
Despite these welcomed, and long-awaited, changes in national statistics, the global trend is still somewhat stark. According to women's professional advocacy non-profit group Catalyst, vastly more women provide unpaid full-time care – i.e.: childcare – than men, with 1.5% of men providing full-time care globally against 21.7% of women. Despite mainstream cultural shifts away from traditional notions of woman as caregiver, global trends still suggest the lesson is yet to be learned; the balance yet to be redressed. This is laid bare by another global trend, which has profound consequences for women everywhere.
Less Likely to Be Employed
The same Catalyst report revealed that mothers are less likely to be employed than women without children, or even fathers. The reasons for this injustice are many and varied, but amount to a prejudicial understanding of the mother's role in society. Employers and businesses hold a systemically outmoded attitude to mothers, wherein mothers are perceived to have a clear priority that would preclude them from being an effective and professional asset.
Alternative Income Streams
Even as women with children are disproportionately prevented from attaining full-time work, and disproportionately left to handle full-time childcare, they are finding progressive ways to generate an income alongside caring for their child. Online connectivity has allowed for a revolution in remote working, with new possibilities in the form of both active and passive income streams:
Blogging has been a popular way to earn money online since the advent of the internet – and even today, blogging remains popular in a variety of different forms. Traditional blogging websites pull in revenue via banner and PPC adverts, while influencer blogging on social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok can garner sponsorships from brands and businesses.
Online trading apps and software have allowed retail consumers to get in on stocks and foreign currencies, giving them a direct way to invest and to passively receive income. For more advanced and actively involved retail investors, CFD trading is a hands-on way to engage with the market – allowing investors to trade in values without owning assets.
Freelancing is an ideal work arrangement for new mothers, not only to enable the easier juggling of childcare and professional tasks but also to enable greater freedom and control over professional trajectory. Remote tutoring is one line of freelance work which is easy to manage, as freelancers can choose their students and teaching times to suit them.
Another professional role that can be undertaken remotely is that of executive or personal assistance; as businesses increasingly adopt remote working capabilities, traditionally in-office roles are able to be undertaken on a virtual basis. Virtual assistance can be a flexible and well-recompensed position to take, with unique opportunities to be found in the freelance sphere.