The other day I was musing on the fact that although girls outperform boys in GCSEs and A levels in the UK, women remain sorely under-represented in the boardroom, with a pitifully small number of top listed companies having women on their executive teams.
Then today I read that the number of women in the UK opting to remain at home and look after their children instead of doing paid employment has risen by 32,000 since the same time last year, with the cost of childcare playing a major role in their decision. Could this be part of the reason that women continue to be absent at the top?
Aviva’s Family Finances Report shows that the average cost of having a single child in full-time childcare is £385 a month, a figure that rises to £729 for children under the age of two. Added to this, the same study showed people spend £120 on work-related expenditure each month – food, clothes, travel – and £147 on school-related costs. When seen in light of the average woman’s full time salary (£17,513), this leaves just £120 a month if she is paying for childcare for two children, one of which is under the age of two.
Consider the facts of part-time workers and the numbers are even worse, with the average part time worker losing £98 per month with two children in childcare. Considering that women remain more likely to take-on part time work than men after having children – this means that women who want to keep their jobs after children are working pretty much solely to pay for childcare and barely scraping by for their trouble.
Obviously it’s everyone’s own choice to have children, so you can’t really complain when it works out this way, but it still seems like kind of a raw deal. It also seems like there’s quite a lot of scope for ingenuity when it comes to saving money on childcare, such as sorting out arrangements with other working mothers/fathers to share childcare responsibilities, starting your own work-from-home business, and having friends and family help out.
I’m really interested to know what sort of arrangements you have for childcare, and whether the cost of childcare alone was the sole reason you decided to leave employment after having children.