Knocking 8 Bells out of the Working Day, For Sexual Equality

This morning, on the Twitter:

@Madelinep said to Professor @DrAliceRoberts, “We’re shoehorning women into careers designed for men with stay-at-home wives”.

@DrewbertG replied, “We’re shoe horning men into them too. If things are going to change for the better it has to be for everyone.

@Madelinep added “Women & men need work flexibility. The lack of women at senior levels tells the big story”.

I threw in:

@wootube “Idea: Make jobs smaller for everyone? Allow people to have 2 or 3 it they feel they have time?”

I want to expand on that here.

@DannaKo1 suggested the Twitter hashtag #workrevolution because the issue was wider than #womeninacademia. As a non-academic man, I feel honour-bound to agree.

My idea of feminism is that men and women, on average, probably have slightly different capabilities in some areas, whether due to biology or social conditioning but that no human being is average so individuals have the right to an opportunity to prove that they are equal to another person. I get very frustrated by feminists who refuse to discuss, for example, father’s rights, until The Patriarchy has been crushed. That doesn’t appear to me to serve equality well.

In purely practical terms, if society is structured to expect men to work until midnight ‘when the pressure is on’ but women have a legal right to leave at 5pm because they have childcare duties, guess who is going to be given the top jobs. Like many, I had a rant recently when a politician made a crass remark about mothers deserving to be paid less, presumably because child care meant they had less experience than someone who had stayed at work. Most feminists were disgusted that he considered a woman to be worth less. My objection was that he should have said “any parent who gives childcare greater priority than work”. Why isn’t that every father too?

I’d like to propose a solution: Assume a school day for under-16s will be 09:00 – 17:00. Adult education and the world of work moves to the system traditionally observed aboard ships – watches, 4-hour units of time. In the day time, these run from 08:30 – 12:30, 12:30 – 16:30 and 16:30 – 20:30.

When raising a child, instead of one parent stopping work and the other continuing, they have the option for parent A to work the first watch, leaving parent B free to get children off to school. Parent A works 1 or 2 watches and is available to pick the child up from school. Parent B works 1 or 2 watches after 12:30. Anyone can choose to work part-time, full-time or even 12 hours.

Now the radical part: every job is advertised as normal, specifying the number of watches required and when, if it matters. All candidates are considered equally and ranked. When the job is offered, the successful candidate, regardless of sex, has the legal right to say they wish to work less watches than required. Alternate candidates are then offered the rest of the watches, until the job is full. With an appropriate notice period, any employee has the right to reduce the number of watches they work. The watch becomes the unit of work instead of the day, the watch-year is the unit of job experience. Clearly, the impact of every role potentially becoming a job-share will be an additional management overhead but the pool of trained and experienced candidates for every job may be expected to increase considerably. An employee approaching retirement may choose to reduce watches, prior to retirement, allowing a replacement to be trained, in parallel.


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