I was lucky enough to hear Professor Wendy Loretto discussing her research on fuller working lives at the Scottish Parliament.
To put this in context, I had a busy day at work and arrived a bit grumpy about having committed to an evening event. In my role I often find I am torn between being home for my kid’s tea and bedtime, and attending events which will help me to develop my knowledge and networks (my kids win at least four nights out of five).
So with my grumpy, tired head on I approached the lecture with the answer NO – I can’t fit more in! I work, I volunteer and I try to be an engaged, active parent doing great stuff and supporting my kids to be happy, confident individuals.
It was such a relief to hear Wendy’s view that woman’s lives are pretty full.
Her lecture examined the UK Government policy on Fuller Working Lives in the context of research evidence. It shows that the policy is gender-blind and negligent of women’s experiences and roles.
For many women, the boundaries between paid and unpaid work become more blurred, especially in later life. My feeling is this is beginning to blur more for men too.
Volunteering and regular care for grandchildren factor high in activities undertaken by those in the 50-70 age range of the research, with an increasing trend to reduce working hours in order to do so. Both are valuable activities which make an unseen contribution to the economy but in terms of the government policy on fuller working lives, they are ignored.
Here’s an infographic that summarises the government’s approach, which seems to be full-time employment for longer, and anything else is a loss. But who is it a loss for: the government or the individual?