Saturday 16 December 2017

Colette Fitzpatrick: Why is it so hard for stay-at-home mums to get any of the real credit?

Paddy Cosgrave
Jon Hamm was accused of helping to lead a violent 1990 'hazing' at the University of Texas (Invision/AP)
Drew Barrymore

Thank you Jo Brand for paying tribute to stay-at-home mothers. When asked who she most admired, in a recent interview, the comedian replied: "All women who slog their guts out every day, quietly getting on with bringing up their families."

How refreshing. It sometimes feels like commentators, politicians and even women themselves only talk about women who work outside the home.

It's like they've been elevated to a hallowed status. Being 'busy', especially being a 'busy working mum', has become idolised.

Right now one of the main narratives coming up ahead of the Budget is childcare, and how to make it possible for women to get back into the workforce.

But when was the last time you heard a politician talking about making things easier for women in the home? Asking what would help them?

Instead, we face an endless conversation about women 'balancing' work and home - as if motherhood in the home has been forgotten.

Even the tax system discriminates against families when one parent stays at home.

The effect of tax individualisation introduced by former Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy made the situation worse, with one-income married couples paying more tax.

Stay-at-home mums are not just mothers. They shape the most important people in our lives who rely on them for everything.

They are the bedrock on which our families are built. Society would disintegrate if they weren't there.

Having been a stay-at-home mum, on maternity leave for six months at a time, and having escaped back to the workforce, I know what stay-at-home mums do all day.

It's unpaid, often thankless work, which starts the moment you wake up, and doesn't stop all day.

You work weekends and nights, with no discernible end to your days or weeks. The work is never-ending. It is often dreary and repetitive.

Your attention is frequently divided, moment to moment. It's almost impossible to complete a task in the one go.

Your 'to-do' list simply reads "everything".

Stay-at-home mothers are not bad role models for their kids. Nor have they abandoned the sisterhood, no more than those who are working outside the home 'chose their career over their kids' (and notice the way no one says that about dads?)

Being a stay-at-home mum is a gamble. Husbands and partners, as well as the income they provide, can disappear.

Therefore the risk of facing into a job market for which you are unprepared is very real.

We need to get to a place where stay-at-home mums aren't asked the question "what do you do?" or "when are you going back?"

They need to be revered and respected like scientists and doctors.

Why? Because they're bloody amazing.


When it comes to summits, tech experts should learn from tillage farmers

Paddy Cosgrave

IT seems that money is as taboo amongst tech geeks as it is amongst the rest of us. Founder Paddy Cosgrave is staying schtum on how much the Web Summit is getting to move to Lisbon.

Money must be a key factor. This is a private company, after all.

But it's difficult to believe that the lack of wi-fi at the summit was not a key issue. Cosgrave himself said: "If we are to deliver to our attendees, the experience they demand and they pay good money for, we have to move."

For the last four years, parts of that experience in Dublin have been awful. Imagine being at the summit, exhibiting as a company and not being able to access decent wi-fi, which occurred last year.

Imagine being a visitor who had no option but to data roam and clock up a massive bill, on top of a pricey ticket and an over-priced hotel.


Had you attended the previous year you may also have had to forgo your shower, as severe water restrictions were in place in the city.

The company also cited infrastructure as one of the reasons it's packing its bags. Well, there's no metro line to the airport for a start...

The Lisbon news was a hammer blow to some Irish policy makers, who've pointed to the Web Summit as being a jewel in our technology crown when trying to entice tech firms to set up here.

Ireland is supposed to be synonymous with tech innovation but it sometimes feels like this is because we attract foreign companies on the basis of our low corporate tax rate. Many believe we're a tax haven dressed up as a tech hub.

The Web Summit should have considered ditching the RDS for Ratheniska. Hundreds of thousands decamped to rural Ireland and reports says there were no problems with the wi-fi at the Ploughing. Tech hipsters? It's tillage and dairy farmers who really know how to put on an summit.


Did Jon or Don win that Emmy? 

Jon Hamm

I'm delighted that Jon Hamm  bagged an Emmy this year. After being admitted into rehab and splitting from his long-time partner Jennifer Westfeldt (inset), he really needed a win.

After 16 nominations Hamm was finally awarded the gong for his portrayal of Don Draper in Mad Men. It was hard to separate the two, looking at him in his tux. It was like the sexist, complex, egotistical Don Draper slithered up on stage and won an advertising award.

Smart women aren't meant to like bad boys like Don. We're meant to believe their behaviour is inexcusable and that emotionally unavailable men aren't the type that interests them. But sometimes, they just do.


We need make-up mirrors on buses

Drew Barrymore

Drew Barrymore was recently snapped doing it - painting her nails in public that is, on the New York subway. But this week a health warning was issued about how applying make-up in public puts you at risk of eye injury.

Most women I know are actually quite proud of how they've managed to master the art of make-up application on a bus or Luas. A study in 2013 found that one in three women apply their make-up during their morning commute. I'm glad women spend that extra time cuddling their kids or sleeping. If you want to do something on the train that is quiet and not bothersome to anyone else, why not?

A quarter of those surveyed believed that transport firms should install mirrors to make the make-up job easier. So now you know Bus Eireann.

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