走出家庭之後

:::

1992 / 3月

文‧陳淑美 圖‧黃麗梨


「成功男人背後,都有一位偉大的女性」。

 

但是,過去一直努力讓男人無後顧之憂的女性,在社會變遷、自己也走出家庭後,卻面臨著「後繼無人」的困擾。

 

該如何來填補這個留白?


時代真的變了。以前的社會是男主外、女主內;現在則是夫婦倆都在外頭「打拚」,雙生涯家庭愈來愈多。

然而婦女走出家庭,心卻沒有放下它。一家針對女主管開設訓練課程的企管顧問公司發現,卅歲左右年輕女主管最難擺平的問題不在辦公室,而是從家庭而來的壓力。「她們多半剛當上主管,事業上需要大力衝刺,卻又正逢生兒育女的階段」,訓練人員蘇忠燕說。

婦女的「後顧之憂」

傳統觀念裡,女性也仍是家庭的主要照顧者。一個典型的例子是,父親生病了,女兒、兒子們都非常擔心,大家立即輪流看護;結果時間一久,兒子必須回去工作了,要求媳婦代理,但媳婦也要工作,因而不勝負荷;女兒呢,則因待在醫院的時間太長,而被婆家責怪。

台灣大學社會學教授鄭為元、廖榮利針對台灣婦女角色認同的研究也發現,大多數婦女最關心的問題,是如何兼顧家庭與事業。

在婦女勞動人口愈來愈多的今天——據主計處的統計,全台灣將近一半的婦女在外工作,這真是個重大的社會問題。

我們眼前已經看得到的是——

生養小孩及家務的繁瑣,使得都會區堙u頂客族」(結婚而不願生小孩),或生了小孩而不願自己帶的人數急遽增加,乃至於人們愈來愈晚婚、未婚人口比例日多。

根據鄭、廖兩位學者的研究,發現女性長久以來未能解決家庭與事業的干擾,甚至使未婚女性對婚姻產生憂慮。

「一位未婚的社會工作者擔心,如果結婚,她目前的工作會受影響;另一位則擔心未來孩子的教養問題而遲遲不敢結婚;還有一位裝潢公司的單身女老闆,則乾脆為了減輕家務的負擔而抱定獨身主義。」鄭、廖的研究引述。

一隻蠟燭兩頭燒

說起來,婦女「後顧之憂」的歷史並不算長。

從一九六○年台灣工業快速發展開始,台灣地區婦女真正轉型。據中央研究院經濟研究所蔡青龍的研究,一九六四年,台灣的婦女勞動參與率已達百分之四十。六○到七○年代依靠密集勞力創造外銷實績的力量,很大部分來自這群辛苦踩著縫衣機,或裝配著電子零件的女性。

這樣一路走來,到了九○年代的今天,婦女不但深入各行各業,勞動參與率亦已高達百分之四十五,雖然還低於日本的四十九、美國的五十三,但已是台灣人力資源不可或缺的一環。

雖然我國婦女就業人口比例愈來愈高,但是另一方面,卻有不少的工作婦女,因為結婚或生小孩而離開勞動市場。這一部分的人數頗為可觀,據主計處的統計,大約每三位工作女性就有一位因結婚而辭職;繼續工作的女性中,又有七分之一因生育而離職。而且離職之後復職的比例甚低,「多為一去不返的情形」,主計處八十年六月所作的「婚育與就業報告」這麼形容。

許多婦女因熬不住工作與家庭雙重困擾而辭去工作,但是也有不少婦女咬緊牙根硬撐。這些人「一隻蠟燭兩頭燒」,表面上是最沒問題的一群——不會以不生孩子、不帶孩子,甚至不結婚來對社會「反撲」——卻埋下一顆定時炸彈。

女性罹病率高

「國人的平均壽命雖然女高於男,但這並不代表女性健康的品質較佳」,政大心理研究所教授陳皎眉的研究指出,婦女與男人一樣在外頭工作,卻仍然要負擔回家煮飯、洗衣服、照顧小孩等主要家庭勞務,使得女性的健康狀況分外不好,許多人長期為病痛折磨。

陽明醫學院公共衛生研究所副教授胡幼慧的一項研究也顯示,女性無論在急、慢性病、臥床率、牙病、及各類輕型的精神疾病上均高於男性。

「女性輕型精神疾病的發生率,與男性是三與二之比,而以已婚、大於卅五歲為高危險群」,台大醫學院精神科副教授鄭泰安指出。

這群婦女所面臨的壓力,主要來自工作、照顧家庭及子女、婆媳問題及婚姻失和等壓力。

現代婦女不能兼顧家庭,最嚴重的後遺症是下一代子女的教養。不少工作媽媽長時間把孩子放在婆家、娘家,或保母家(見「近鄰不如遠親」)。

媽媽不愛帶小孩

中研院社會科學研究所伊慶春的研究中發現,對三歲以下小孩的照顧中,卅歲以下的年輕媽媽,有百分之卅採用廿四小時全日托嬰的型式,只有周六、日等時間才看得到小孩。「以前是爺爺奶奶含飴弄孫,現在是爸爸媽媽含飴弄『子』了!」伊慶春嘆道。

如果要看看工作媽媽因為不能兼顧子女而帶來的問題。「很簡單,去問一個教了卅年書的小學教員就會知道」,伊慶春有些激動地說,「看看現在我們的小孩是不是比以前跋扈、功利、不講理了!」她認為,純粹以現代父母生得少、比較寵小孩,並不能解釋其因,「我們的父母花在小孩身上的時間太少。」

很多人認為,這是婦女走出家庭後所造成的「悲劇」。「連幼稚園老師都這麼認為,一碰到跋扈的小孩就說『沒辦法,她媽媽上班嘛!』」伊慶春認為,就是這樣的觀念害人,因為這其實就是又把問題歸回原點,又回到傳統「男主外,女主內」的年代。而實際上,隨著婦女教育程度的提高、經濟水準的進步、兩性平等觀念的倡導,要婦女們再回到家堣w經不可能了,因此目前最根本的解決之道,是給予女性更多的支援力量。

特殊族群的普遍需要

這對現代社會中的特殊族群更有必要。

據鄭為元與廖榮利的研究,上班時間無法朝九晚五的女性警察、記者,及需值夜班的護士、店員們,是對家務等問題困擾最多的一群。

離婚、喪偶後必須再出來工作以維持經濟來源的單親媽媽更需要這樣的支援體系。日前一對姐弟因洗澡時瓦斯外溢、中毒而死的慘劇,就發生在一位必須夜間外出執勤的單親家庭。據主計處的統計,這類族群在當今的台灣社會已佔有百分之三.二,人數雖少,但不可輕忽,解決她們的問題,也就等於解決一部分社會問題。

現代婦女引頸期盼的支援體系,現今社會建立了多少呢?

民國七十三年訂定的「勞動基準法」雖明定有「母性保護制度」,對例如女工在懷孕期間,繁重工作應避免,生產後應予八周產假,及哺乳時間的安排……等都有所規定,但是,婦女新知的法律顧問尤美女卻認為,這些都只是一些最低條件的規定,涵蓋面仍嫌不足,因此提出有陪產、育嬰、兒童照顧等休假的「男女工作平等法」,就是在喚起大眾注意,「生兒育女不是女性個人,而是社會大眾,乃至國家的事」,尤美女說。(見「男女工作平等法」文)

育兒福利最需要

法令未臻完備,其他方面是如何?以婦女勞動參與率最高的台北市為例,台北市政府曾委託台灣大學社會研究所為台北市整體社會福利需求作調查,結果發現,台北市民最普遍需要的福利居然是:育兒福利——包括托兒所和家庭保母。

調查報告中指出,台北市政府社會局的托兒服務供給量為一萬二千人,與市民的需要量二萬六千人,尚有一大段差距;而家庭保母的現有供給量為一千一百人,距市民的最低需求一萬三千人,差距更遠。

「但是這已是我們所能做到的極限了」,台北市社會局局長白秀雄指出,十年來台北市各項福利成長中,育兒福利的比重增加最快,足足有四倍多,但還是趕不上社會的實際需要。

社會局目前採取兩種措施雙管齊下,一方面訂定各種獎勵措施,如給予民間興建的鄰里托兒所免息貸款,一所最高金額新台幣一百萬等;另一方面則委託家扶中心代訓練素質優良的保母,目前已訓練了將近一千人,「我們計畫在西元二千年時訓練出一萬人,趕上台北市民的需要」,白秀雄畫下了「遙遠的大餅」。

大部分女性會比較信任公立托兒所,或公家推介保母的原因是,一方面品質可信賴;一方面費用也比較低。但即使能「擠破頭」後如願進入公立托兒所,與家或上班地點仍有一段距離有待奔波。為安定婦女員工的心,已有部分企業老闆願盡微薄之力,由私人企業來自辦托兒所,如台南福懋紡織、宏砦q腦等……。

鼓勵「不安於室」

政府對此當然大力支持。一年前,勞委會便採取獎勵措施,願辦理托兒所等福利措施的企業,最高可得六十萬元台幣的補助,但這項優惠卻沒有達到實質效果;以去年來說,申請者共卅家,只有補助名額的一半。

其原因,一方面因於政府法令中設置托兒所等措施的法令——例如面積須在百坪以上,地點不得在二樓以上——過於嚴苛;一方面也是企業們並不是很有心,「因為還是太麻煩了」,十分了解企業動向的台北市國民就業輔導中心主任盤治郎說。

比起國外,行之經年對工作婦女較有保障的一些彈性制度——如彈性工時、部分工時、居家工作等,在我國企業多半還在起步階段,接受程度還不是很高,「除非工作型態是非常個人、專業,而且跟其他部門很少溝通,否則企業家會計算成本的」,宏砦q腦福利規劃部經理邱淑姝說。而坊間不少的企業在碰到女性求職者時,甚至會設法探問有沒生小孩的計畫。

對職業婦女來說,工作既然如此沒有支援,那不如不做算了。反諷的是,現行的觀念堙A對從事家務工作也不是很肯定。至少在我們的稅法中,工作所得可以扣除,但處理家務的薪資——婦女新知研究,如果要換算成僱用人工,一個家庭主婦每月的工資約要二萬五千元台幣——卻無法扣除,無形中鼓勵大家不安於「室」——都去做事算了。

杯弓蛇影

無奈的是,選擇了做為職業婦女,許多女性卻仍有著成就壓力——不敢全力投入工作。中研院民族學研究所助理研究員呂玉瑕的研究指出,大部分婦女在選擇工作時,仍以能兼顧家庭為主要考慮。因此女性勞動力有相當大的一部分是在非正式的工作,間斷式、進出勞動力市場頻繁、從事半技術或非技術的工作為其特色。

勞委會的一項調查也顯示,女性就業人口雖然增加了,但仍以短期利益為考量。

也因此,觀念媢鴾k性員工並不是特別期許。連身任就輔中心的主任盤治郎都向僱主們建議,別對已婚婦女們期望太高。「她們早上要先起床,整理家務、作早餐、餵飽老公和小孩,然後擠公車到公司上班。想想看,她們還有多少精力」,盤治郎形容說。

許多有心發展事業生涯的婦女,也因此要比男性們花更大的精力來彌補社會對女性的成見。邱淑姝就表示,她因為懷孕生子,考績無法得到優等時,就覺得十分不平。她自認沒有因懷孕、生子而影響工作,在不請產假的一些月份,也特別賣力工作,「為何企業總要在考績及升遷上去『平衡』女性既有的權利呢?」她質疑。

歷史任務靠另一半

放眼未來,支援女性的制度有否可能改變?一種比較樂觀的看法是,隨著婦女的大量投入勞動市場,社會必定會被逼得因應。由於大量女性進入公家機構,政府已考慮更改以男性為中心的上班方式了。像台北市政府社會局不硬性規定員工留在辦公室,而以「任務完成」方式來考核屬下就是一例,這些觀念改變,均有助於整個制度的建立。

尤美女認為,首先要從改變背負著數千年的文化觀念作起,大至就像男人作家事、當奶爸、女兒奉養自己的父母……,在現代社會應該都是天經地義的事,不管是女性或男性都應心平氣和地接受。

改變整個社會畢竟比較難。伊慶春建議,家有工作媽媽的男主人們,不妨先由己身做起,閒時多花些力氣,在分擔家務及照顧小孩身上,在推展男女平等觀念方面也應多盡心力。畢竟這是中國有歷史以來,女性第一次能有機會走出家庭的時代,沒有另外一半的幫忙,這個歷史任務是完成不了的。

〔圖片說明〕

P.8

多少婦女在工作?

婦女勞動參與率%

婦女勞動參與率年年上升,但因為結婚、生育而辭職之後再進入就業市場的第二峰較不明顯。

資料來源:行政院主計處

P.8

走出家庭,振臂高呼,建立家庭的支援體系,還要靠女性自覺。

P.9

不是朝九晚五的特殊女性工作族群,最需要婦女支援體系協助。(本刊資料)

P.10

婦女外出工作的比例愈來愈高,逐漸在各行各業中嶄露頭角。(邱瑞金攝)

P.11

生產線上的勞動婦女,為台灣的經濟奇蹟貢獻了不少心力。

P.12

開學第一天,送小孩上學的媽媽不放心地殷殷叮嚀。

P.13

女性的平均壽命雖長,但罹病率也較男性高。(鄭元慶攝)

P.14

從台北搬到桃園龍潭的宏砦q腦,在廠區蓋了一所托兒所,以安定員工的心。

P.14

忙了一天,還要侍奉這小鬼!

從前,從前有個白雪公主……

……女巫婆拿了毒蘋果給白雪公主……吃……

咪,白雪公主吃了蘋果,是不是睡著了?

(聯合報.黃志鴻)

P.15

偷得浮生半日閒,當當奶爸樂無窮。

P.16

小學放學後,私家轎車、摩托車,和接小孩課後輔導的「安親班」交通車,全在校門外守候。

P.17

只有建立起完善的支援體系,女性頭上的天空才會更開闊。(張良綱攝)

相關文章

近期文章

EN

After Leaving the Home

Jackie Chen /photos courtesy of Huang Lili /tr. by Phil Newell

"Behind every successful man is a great woman."

But with society changing, the women who had always devoted themselves to insuring the men could go out without worry are facing the problem of having no backup for themselves as they leave the home.

How can this gap be filled?


Times really are changing. In the past, society had the man outside, the woman mainly at home. Now both the husband and wife are out, with more and more two-income households.

Nevertheless, though the woman leaves home, she cannot put it out of her mind. One consulting company which began a class for women executives discovered that the most irresolvable problem for women in their early thirties was not in the office, but from pressures from the home. "Most of them have only recently become managers, and they need to give all they can to their jobs, but these are also precisely their child-bearing years," says instructor Su Chung-yen.

Women "Looking Over Their Shoulders": In the traditional view, the woman is still the main caregiver in the family. A classic example is that when the father becomes ill, the sons and daughters are all extremely concerned, and everyone takes turns looking after him. In the end, however, after some time has passed, the sons must go back to work, and they ask their wives to take care of things for them. But the women also have to work, and can't take all the responsibility. The daughters, on the other hand, are criticized by their husbands' families for spending too much time at the hospital.

Cheng Wei-yuan and Liao Jung-li, professors of sociology at National Taiwan University, have discovered in a study of attitudes about women's roles in Taiwan that the problem most women are most concerned about is how to look after both their homes and their careers.

Today, with the women's labor force increasing, nearly one-half of the women in Taiwan work outside the home according to the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics--this is truly an important social problem.

We can already see some things right in front of us:

The complexities of raising children and managing a household have led to a dramatic rise in the number of "dinks" (double income, no kids) or of people who have children but are not willing to raise them themselves. Also, the proportion of the population which marries late or never marries at all is also increasing constantly.

According to the study by Cheng and Liao, women have not been able to resolve the conflict between home and work, even leading some women to have doubts about getting married at all.

"One unmarried social worker is worried that if she marries, it will affect her current employment. Another is worried about the problem of educating her children in the future, and keeps putting off getting married. Yet another, a single woman who owns an interior design business, quite frankly sticks to a philosophy of remaining single as a way to reduce the responsibilities of housework," states the Cheng-Liao study.

Burning the Candle at Both Ends: The history of women "looking over their shoulders" at concerns they leave behind in the home is not long.

Women in the Taiwan area have only really begun to change from the beginning of rapid industrial growth in 1960. According to a study by Tsai Ching-long of the institute of Economics of the Academia Sinica, by 1964 the participation rate for female labor had reached 4O.6%. Much of the "man" power behind the export miracle led by labor intensive industries in the decade from 1960 to 1970 came from these hardworking women operating the sewing machines or assembling the electronics.

Travelling along this road, today in the 1990's women have not only penetrated all fields and professions, the labor participation rate has gone up to 45%. Although still lower than the 49% in Japan or the 53% in the United States, women are an indispensable segment of the Taiwan labor force.

Although the proportion of women working in Taiwan has grown, the other side of the coin is that many working women have left the labor market because they have gotten married or had children. According to the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics, about one in three working women resigns because of marriage, and about one seventh of those who continue later leave their jobs because of childbirth. The percentage of women who return to work after leaving is extremely low, "with most never going back once they leave," as the DGBAS June 1991 "Report on Employment, Marriage, and Childbearing" puts it.

Many women quit their jobs because they cannot put up with the dual problems of family and career, but many women also just grit their teeth and bear it. These women "burning the candle at both ends" might appear on the surface to be the most worry-free group--after all they don't feel compelled to "rebel" against society by not having children, not raising their children, or even not getting married at all--but they are actually time bombs set to go off.

High Rate of Illness Among Women: "Although life expectancy among Taiwan residents is higher for women than for men, this doesn't necessarily mean that women enjoy better health," notes a study by Chen Chiao-mei, a professor of psychology at Chengchih University. Both men and women alike work outside the home, but having to go home and then be responsible for the major household chores like cooking, washing, and looking after the kids makes women's health situation unusually poor, and many have long-term illnesses and afflictions.

Hu You-huei, an associate professor of public health at the Yangming Medical College, revealed in a study that women have a higher incidence of acute, chronic, disabling, dental, and mild nervous conditions than men.

"The rate of incidence of mild nervous disorders among women is higher than for men by a ratio of 3:2. The highest risk group are women who are already married and about 35," points out Cheng Tai-an, an associate professor of neurology at National Taiwan University School of Medicine.

The problems that these women face arise primarily from the pressures of work, looking after the family and children or the in-laws, as well as marital disharmony.

If the modern woman is unable to give due care to the home, the most serious side effect is in the education of the next generation. Many working mothers leave their children at their in-laws' or mother's home, or at day care, for long periods (see the article "A Neighbor Next Door Can't Top a Relative from Afar").

A Mother's Love? In a study, Yi Chin-chun of the Sun Yat-sen Institute for Social Sciences and Philosophy at the Academia Sinica discovered that for children under three years of age, 30% of them others under 30 years of age choose round-the-clock child care, only being able to see their children on Saturday or Sunday. "In the past it was always the grandparents who were able to 'lead a leisurely life and play with the grandchildren now and then,' now it is the parents who only 'play with the children now and then,'" sighs Yi Chin-chun.

What about the problems that might arise from a working mother being unable to look after the children? "It's very simple. Just go ask a primary school instructor who's been teaching more than thirty years, then you'll know," says Yi, a bit agitated, "and see whether our children today aren't more defiant of authority, more materialistic, and less reasonable!" She contends that you can't explain it purely by saying modern parents have fewer children and thus spoil them more, as "our parents spend too little time on our children."

Many people contend that this is a "tragedy" created after women left the home. "Even nursery school teachers feel this way. When they come across a disobedient or defiant child, they just say, 'what can be done--his mother works!'" notes Yi Chin-chun. It's only that this view is harmful, because in fact it just throws the problem back to where it originates, and is a return to the traditional era of "men outside the home, women inside." In fact, following the rise in the level of education of women, economic progress, and the promotion of the concept of equality among the sexes, it is already impossible for women to return to the home. Thus at present the most fundamental solution is to give women more support.

The Common Needs of a Special Group: This is even more essential for the special groups in society.

According to the study by Cheng Wei-yuan and Liao Jung-li, one of the groups with the most problems related to the home is composed of policewomen, reporters, nurses, and sales clerks who cannot work a usual 9-to-5 day and must work at night.

Single mothers who must come out to work after divorce or the death of their spouse are in even greater need of this support network. A recent tragedy in which two sisters died as a result of a gas leak while they were bathing occurred in a single-parent family where the mother had to work in the evenings. According to the DGBAS, this group already accounts for 3.2% of Taiwan's society; though the number is not large, it cannot be overlooked. To resolve their problems is the same as resolving the problems of any part of society.

How much of the support system that women hope for has been built thus far in society?

The 1984 Labor Standards Law stipulates a "Mother's Protection System" with regulations for such things as women being exempt from arduous work during pregnancy, having an eight-week leave after childbirth, and arranging times for breast-feeding. Nevertheless, Yu Mei-nu, legal adviser to the Awakening Foundation, believes that these are all minimal regulations, and they are not inclusive enough. Thus she favors a "Equal Employment Act with time off for the husband to accompany the wife at childbirth, to raise the infants and to look after the children. This is a call for people to sit up and take notice: "having and raising children is not just for the woman as an individual, it is a matter for all of society, and even the state," says Yu (see the article "Equal Employment Act" in this issue.)

The Greatest Need Is for Child Care Services: The law is not yet comprehensive, but what about other areas? Taking Taipei City, where the women's labor participation rate is the highest, the Taipei City Government commissioned the Graduate School of Sociology at National Taiwan University to conduct a survey of the overall social welfare needs of Taipei. The results showed that the most common social welfare need for the citizens of Taipei is child care--including day care centers and in-home nannies.

It was pointed out in the survey report that the "supply" of child care services provided by the Department of Social Affairs of the city government is for 12,000 persons, while the need among city residents is for 26,000 places, which is a rather large gap. Further, the supply of in-home nannies is currently 1,100 persons, but the lowest calculation of demand among city residents is 13,000, an even greater disparity.

"But we are already at the extreme limit of what we can do," says Department of Social Affairs Director Pai Shiu-hsiung. As the social services of the Taipei City Government have all expanded over the past ten years, the proportion devoted to child welfare has grown the most quickly, by almost four times over. But it still cannot keep up with the actual need in society.

The DSA has adopted two policies: On the one hand, they have adopted many incentive measures, such as zero-interest loans for the establishment of private neighborhood day care centers of up to NT$1 million per center. On the other they have commissioned the family supported centers to train highly qualified nannies; 1,000 have already been trained. "We plan to have trained 10,000 people by the year 2000, to catch up with the demand among Taipei City residents," says Pai Shiu-hsiung.

The reason most women are more likely to trust public day care centers or government-recommended nannies is that the quality will be reliable and the fees will be lower. But even if one could get into a public day care center, you still have to run back and forth the distance from where you live or work. In order to put women workers at ease, some company owners have already been willing to allow private enterprises to set up their own self-run child care centers, such as Tainan Fumao Textiles and Acer Sertek Incorporated.

Incentives for "Unease at Home": The government naturally strongly supports this. Last year the Council of Labor Affairs adopted incentive provisions which gave a maximum NT$600,000 subsidy to enterprises willing to operate day care or other social welfare policies. But this preference has not had much real impact: As of last year, a total of 30 companies applied, and only half received the assistance.

One major reason is because the laws and regulations governing the establishment of day care or other welfare policies--for example, the area must exceed 100 p'ing (about 36 square feet per p'ing), or the location cannot be above the second story--are too strict. Another aspect is that the enterprises are not very enthusiastic, because "it's still too much of a hassle," says Pan Chih-lang, director of the Vocational Assistance Agency, who understands the trends in business very well.

Compared to overseas, many policies which have been long in place to provide working women guaranteed flexibility--like flextime, part-time work, or working in the home--are still in the preliminary stages in Taiwan. "Unless the type of work is extremely personalized and specialized, and rarely requires communication with other departments, businessmen will count it as a cost," says Chiu Shu-shu, director of the Welfare Planning Department at Acer, who is very familiar with how enterprises work. And some companies will even go so as far as to ask a woman applicant if she has any plans to have children.

For professional women, since there are no supports for their work, some just throw in the towel and forget it. The other side of the coin is that in today's mindset, there are no great accolades for housework either. At least, in Taiwan's tax code, you can deduct the costs of hiring help from your taxes, but the cost for managing a house--the Awakening Foundation indicates that if calculated on the basis of domestic help, a homemaker's salary would be about NT$25,000 per month--is not deductible from overall household income, which provides a hidden incentive for women to just go out and work.

False Alarm: What's frustrating is that if you choose to be a career woman, many women are still under pressure to succeed but dare not devote themselves entirely to their jobs. It is pointed out in a study by Lu Yu-hsia, an assistant researcher at the Institute of Ethnology and Philosophy at the Academia Sinica, that when most women choose their jobs they still have looking after their families as a major consideration. Thus a considerable part of the female workforce is in non-formal jobs, characterized by sporadic employment, frequent entry and exit of the labor market, and semi-skilled or non-skilled tasks.

A survey by the Council on Labor Affairs reveals that although the number of working women has increased, the main consideration is still short-term gain.

As a result of this, there are no special expectations of women staff in their work. Even Pan Chihlang of the Vocational Assistance Agency has advised employers not to have excessively high expectations of married women. "They have to get up first in the morning, take care of the housework, make breakfast for the husband and children, and then catch the bus to work. Just try to imagine how much energy they're likely to have left," he says, depicting the scene.

Thus many women who are intent on developing the business must work even harder than men in order to compensate for the biased attitudes in society. Chiu Shu-shu, director of the Welfare Planning Department at Acer, indicates that because she became pregnant and had a child, she could not get top grades in her evaluation, which she feels is very unfair. She feels that becoming pregnant and having a son did not affect her work, and she especially devoted herself to work in the months when she did not ask for a pregnancy leave, so "why does the company have to 'balance off' this inherent women's right in evaluations and promotions?" she wonders.

The Historic Duty Depends Half on the Men: Looking to the future, will there be any changes in the women's support system? A relatively optimistic view suggests that with the large-scale entrance of women into the labor market, society will be forced to cope. Because a large number of women have entered government agencies, the government has already begun to consider altering the male-centric method of working. For example, the Taipei City Government Department of Social Affairs no longer insists that staff stay in the office, and instead uses "completed duties" to assess subordinates. These attitude changes are all conductive to the establishment of an overall system.

Yu Mei-nu believes that it is necessary to start from changing the cultural concepts which have been carried over thousands of years. For example, men doing housework, taking care of the baby, and so on should all be routine matters in a modern society. Both men and women should be able to accept this placidly.

To change all of society will be more difficult. Yi Chin-chun suggests that there's no harm in the man of the house with a working mother starting with the man in the mirror, and expending a little more effort in his leisure time. More effort should be invested in sharing the housework and care of the children, and in promoting the idea of equality between the sexes. This is, after all, the first time in Chinese history that women have had the chance to go outside to work; if there is no help from the partner, the historical duty can never be fulfilled.

[Picture Caption]

Stepping out of the home and locking arms in unity. Setting up a home support network still depends on raising awareness among women.

The special career women whose jobs aren't 9-to-5 are the most in need of the assistance of a women's support network. (Sinorama file photo)

The proportion of women out working is increasing, and they have made a mark in every profession. (photo by Diago Chiu)

Women workers on the production line have contributed a great deal to Taiwan's economic miracle.

On the first day of school, a mother taking her child to school worriedly repeats her instructions.

Although average life expectancy for women is long, the rate of illness is higher than for men. (photo by Arthur Cheng)

Acer Sertek Incorporated, which moved from Taipei City to Taoyuan County, has built a day care center in the factory area to help employees remain worry-free.

Stealing some time from a busy life, being a "Mr. Mom" can be delightful.

After school gets out, private cars, motorcycles, and the bus for the after-school "mama's helper class" are all waiting outside the school gates.

The sky's the limit for women--if only a complete support system can be developed. (photo by Vincent Chang)

The Percentage of Women Working

How Many Women are Working?

The percentage of young women entering the labor force rises every year, but its rise is obscured by the number of older women who quit after marriage and childbirth only to return to the labor force later.

Source: The Directorate General of Budget, Accounting & Statistics, Executive Yuan

Busy all day and now I have to tell the kid a story!

Once upon a time there was a princess named Snow White...

...and the witch gave her a poisoned apple...

Mommy, did the apple make her fall asleep?

(Huang Chih-hung, United Daily News)

 

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