Jo Swinson: Nobody tells boys to choose between a career or being a dad

It’s well worth reading in the full the piece about Jo Swinson in the Evening Standard, and here are some morsels from it to tempt you to do so:

Jo Swinson has a suggestion for anyone who thinks maternity discrimination is a problem of the past: read Pregnant Then Screwed. A website cataloguing women’s horror stories, it illustrates how pervasive this prejudice still is.

“It’s not like the gender pay gap, which is at least going in the right direction,” the former Lib-Dem business minister tells me. “This is actually worse than it was in 2005.”

Swinson, the new chair of the charity Maternity Action, can reel off a litany of complaints…

Her diary is still packed: she’s writing a book about the balance of power between men and women, and has founded her own business, Equal Power Consulting, which advises firms on how to make the most of their female talent…

I note that last year, a headmistress, Vivienne Durham, said girls should be told they have to choose between careers and motherhood. Swinson rages at this. “Nobody says to boys, ‘You have to choose whether you want a career or to be a dad’. ‘Working Dad’ is almost not even a term — as though being a dad isn’t enough of a role.”

A future feminist front, she adds, will be helping fathers perform more caring responsibilities. Shared parental leave was a start but relatively few men have taken it. Swinson believes this will change over time. “If you’re the first man in your organisation that takes it, you are a bit of a pioneer. Then, it’s that little bit easier for the second man.”…

Would she make a political comeback? “I don’t rule it out.” And would that be with the Lib-Dems? She laughs. “I have liberal beliefs, about trusting the individual and giving them the opportunities to make the most of their own lives — that’s how societies are best run. So, yes, I’m still a Liberal Democrat.”

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