Men with 1950s attitudes are the real relic of sexism, not school hours

If we really want to help working mums, the division of household labour needs to change.


It's not school hours that are holding women back in their careers, it's other sexist relics of the 1950s, including modern men.

I've got three questions for Ryde MP Jordan Lane:

- Are you doing your fair share of domestic work at home?

- Is your workplace flexible and family friendly?

- And why do we need to extend school hours when before and after-school care already exists?

Oh, there's a fourth: Have you heard of reinventing the wheel?

School zone sign
Liberal MP Jordan Lane has proposed extending school hours to empower working mothers. Source: Getty

Yesterday, Mr Lane's inaugural speech to NSW Parliament called for school hours to be extended to 6pm.

Lane thinks by extending school hours there will be more workforce participation by women and the character of the next generation will benefit from activities post-school.

In his words, the education system is "a relic of a sexist, bygone era which assumed women stayed at home and were responsible for the school pick-up".

Solving the wrong problem

But there's another relic of the sexist '50s that needs a re-work before education hours — the gendered division of household labour. Many women in Australia clock off from their 9 to 5 only to start a 5 to 9 shift at home — cooking, cleaning and parenting. A shift of unpaid domestic work.

Longer school hours will only delay the time a woman knocks off from her late shift to 10pm. Rather than keeping children at school longer to create good character, let's do that by modelling fair and equitable division of household chores. (There's a take-out message to men: do your share of the household chores. Starting tonight).

What working mums really need

Now back to Mr Lane's shiny wheel. As I said, before and after-school care already exists so let's make it more affordable and accessible. Good, that's solved then.

There's one other memo Mr Lane seems to have missed while he was off inventing his plan for extended school hours. The workforce structures and reliance on "presentism" are also a relic of bygone days.

Women need family-friendly work arrangements and flexibility. Covid proved the majority of us can work from home so let's make it happen, people.

In Mr Lane's speech yesterday, he spoke of his childhood hero: Lance Armstrong. My heroes are everyday people. Those out there working and fighting to bring gender equity to the home, to the workforce, to our children and to our parliaments.

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