Leading female academic: ‘Women can’t have it all’

Dr Catherine Hakim, senior research fellow at LSE, says that women who try to sustain a high-powered career and a perfectly balanced family life are kidding themselves - and that the gender pay gap is a myth

Women can’t ‘have it all’ and any gender pay gap is down to a woman’s lifestyle choices, says leading female academic, Dr Catherine Hakim, senior research fellow at the department of sociology at London School of Economics.

In a controversial new report, Dr Hakim has said that those of us who try to combine high-powered jobs with having children end up with nominal families with whom we spend little time.

Her paper calls on ministers to drop policies pushing for flexible working hours, more time off for fathers and more positions of authority for women on company boards, after figures show that there is no longer a pay gap between the genders.

‘In Britain half of women in senior positions are child-free, and a lot more of them have nominal families with a single child and they subcontract out the work of caring for them to other women,’ says Dr Hakim.

The report, for the centre-right think tank, Centre for Policy Studies, says that the pay gap has not disappeared because women have chosen the type of careers they want rather than those careers that would facilitate more family time.

Dr Hakim also challenges the assumption that women want to be financially independent from men and maintain the same ambitions and career prospects.

The notion that ‘family friendly policies’ help businesses achieve profitability is also heavily criticised. Dr Hakim suggests that there is no difference between male and female managers and that success in business for either sex depends on a commitment to work and the willingness to put in the hours necessary.

So what do you think? Can women maintain a position of power in their careers while comfortably playing a family role? Should women put their children before their work? Do career women make ‘bad mothers’? Let us know your thoughts below.

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