The Wife Drought
Ebury Press, $34.99 pb, 282 pp, 9780857984265
Why is it that women with supportive partners are still thought of as lucky, as if they have won a lottery? In the winter of 2012, Annabel Crabb ran into Tanya Plibersek, who had raised three children over the course of a successful parliamentary career with the help of her husband, a senior state bureaucrat. When Crabb commented on how fortunate they were to have helpful spouses, Plibersek replied, with characteristic dry wit, that she sincerely hoped they would be the last generation who needed to feel lucky about that.
We know that Australian women comprise about sixty per cent of university graduates. In middle management, their numbers are similar to those of men. Yet at the apex, women are still absent: only ten per cent hold executive positions, and only two or three per cent are CEOs. Theories abound as to why: women need to ‘lean in’; they suffer from the ‘confidence gap’; the corporate glass ceiling remains intact. None of these is necessarily untrue, but, according to Crabb, the real issue is not what takes place within the office but rather what happens outside.