One of my favourite plays is Henrik Ibsen’s ‘A Doll’s House’. The play revolves around the life of a woman called Nora. She is a housewife who lives with her husband and three young children. Her husband treats her like an object, his ‘little doll’, judged on her looks, figure and behaviour, and she has no equality. When she finally realises this she has an epiphany which causes her to leave, much to her husband’s dismay.
The play has been considered one of the first feminist texts. Any educated woman with young children can relate to it. Before children you feel independent and possibly on an equal playing field to men. Then once you start thinking about having babies you realise this isn’t the case. Whilst trying to get pregnant your career stalls as you don’t want promotion while trying for a baby. If you take a career break and decide to return you may have to start from the bottom again. I am very lucky as the father of my children has a very flexible job and is very hands-on. However, this is quite rare. I know many women who spent years getting an education who now stay at home, they have husbands who bring home the money, working long hours while they are raising the kids on their own. This isn’t fair on the men or the women. When they eventually return to work they are dismayed to find that men who were once their equals are now their bosses. The glass ceiling does exist. You can see it clearly in most organisations. Men are at the top, regardless of whether they have young kids or not, and women with young children are somewhere in the middle, if they are lucky. You can’t ask women to stop having children. What would happen to the human race? However, something needs to be done to address this inequality and ensure men can be hands-on fathers and women can have fulfilling careers.