When New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, announced her pregnancy, the headlines raced around the world. But when Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg became the first prime minister and treasurer duo since the 1970s to take on the roles while bringing up young children, this detail passed largely without notice. Why do we still accept that fathers will be absent? Why do so few men take parental leave in this country? Why is flexible and part-time work still largely a female preserve?
In the past half-century, women have revolutionised the way they work and live. But men’s lives have changed remarkably little. Why? Is it because men don’t want to change? Or is it because, every day in various ways, they are told they shouldn’t?
In Men at Work, Annabel Crabb deploys political observation, workplace research and her characteristic humour and intelligence to argue that gender equity cannot be achieved until men are as free to leave the workplace (when their lives demand it) as women are to enter it.
“Women’s surge into the workplace has been profound over the last century. But it hasn’t been matched by movement in the other direction: while the entrances have been opened to women, the exits are still significantly blocked to men. And if women have benefited from the sentiment that ‘girls can do anything,’ then don’t we similarly owe it to the fathers, mothers and children of the future to ensure that ‘boys can do anything’ means everything from home to work?”
Correspondence discussing Quarterly Essay 75, Men at Work: