Yesterday saw yet more "women should know their place" propaganda from the Daily Mail. The Mail reported from a recent meta-analysis that children suffer when mothers return to work in the year after giving birth:

Youngsters are less likely to succeed at school if their mothers return to work within a year of their birth, according to a major study. Children of mothers who resume work during their first year of life end up faring worse in formal exams and show signs of being more disruptive. The child’s success was particularly affected if the mother’s work was full-time, the study spanning five decades found.

Unsurprisingly, the Mail has taken some of the the findings from this meta-analysis and construed them for its own ends. It neglects to point out, for example, that issues around socio-economic status and family structure are equally important.

This message from the Mail resonates with John Bowlby's thesis in the the 1940s when he conducted research on child development and "found" that mothers should stay at home for their children's benefit. It transpired that Bowlby's research was part of a wider government campaign to force women back into the home after WWII so that men returning from the war could regain employment. There is every reason to believe now that that the Daily Mail has the same agenda. Indeed, this agenda may be an indication of the current government plans in the coming years. It is now believed that women will suffer most from the financial cuts which were recently announced, and will be most likely to lose their jobs, so it is all too plausible that the government is planning to force women back into the home under the pretence of "child welfare" in order to alleviate pressure on the economy. Such an agenda would never be explicit, of course, but I don't have any doubts that Cameron is devious enough to exact it. We will have to wait and see.


  • Louise

    November 12, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    Ridiculous. My mother worked full time throughout my childhood, and I always excelled in school and recieved all the support I needed from both of my parents. The same with my brother, who struggled with dylsexia and was told he would never be able to read–he now reads several non-fiction philosophy books a month and plans to go to University in september.

    I don’t believe it is damaging to the child at all, my mother was a fantastic role model to me and we always came first. Plus she didn’t have to option of working part time or staying at home–if she had we would have lost out in more ways financially.

    • feimineach

      November 12, 2010 at 3:16 pm

      Louise, I completely agree. I consider myself to be successful and my working mother is a massive part of my success. My mother did not have an option about working either; both she and my father had to work. But the Daily Mail does not pitch its views to people who are in the demographic.

  • hoverfrog

    November 4, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    Urgh! The Daily Wail. Short on evidence to support their assertions as usual. Having read through it their claim isn’t even properly supported by the meta analysis that they vaguely point at. Only in some instances is there an indication that women returning to work after giving birth is at all damaging to a child. How this can be used legitimately to blame and shame women I don’t know but Laura Clark manages it.

    • feimineach

      November 12, 2010 at 3:13 pm

      Hover, exactly! Their claim is completely disingenuous. The Mail will ALWAYS find a way to present “evidence” which works again women.

  • Emm

    November 3, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    How convenient that they “found” all of this data just when they might want to appease all of the public sector workers who are losing their jobs thanks to the cuts. They need to make up their minds though. Are they saying that women should all stop sponging and go back to work or we must stay at home and leave the jobs for men or must women disappear altogether perhaps?

    • feimineach

      November 12, 2010 at 3:12 pm

      Emm, quite. I think that it may be part of the Mail’s agenda to relegate women to the reserve workforce again (which is only needed when the men are not available).

  • Victoria / Justice Pirate

    November 3, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    *big time happier as kids who have moms that are home with them.

  • Victoria / Justice Pirate

    November 3, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    thing is, I actually know loads of kids who have moms that stay at home in my youth group that I help lead, and loads where the parents work, and you can see how smart or close knit the families are and the kids are big time with the kids who have moms that are home with them. It is an observation only from being a youth leader for over 3 years though.

    • feimineach

      November 12, 2010 at 3:10 pm

      Hi Victoria. It could possibly have an effect but there are, also, many other variables involved (e.g. socio-economic status, parents’ personalities, type of schooling, family activities, and even nutrition). It is dreadfully disingenuous for the Daily Mail to represent the findings of the meta-analysis in the way it did.