There’s a hideous fascination in programmes like Mad Men which showed women in the workplace before women's Lib. They were automatically treated as inferior. And it was what they expected. As secretaries, they were handmaids to men, present only to wait on or sleep with them. When one did some real work, and did it well, her boss remarked, "it's like watching a dog play the piano." The assumption during those years between the end of the war and the coming of women's liberation was that girls would have a jobette until marriage and then stop. How could a married woman go out to work? Why, if she had a job she mightn’t be able to cook her husband’s dinner or fetch the children from school!
Volumes could be written about the solutions women now find to the problem of running a home and doing the school run. I'm not saying it's an easy one. Of course emergencies happen. But when the Conservative MP Louise Mensch walked out of an important meeting smugly saying it was more important still to fetch the kids from school, she must have set the perception of women politicians back by decades. Why did she come to the meeting in the first place if she knew she couldn't stay to the end? Why doesn't she have some arrangement for picking up the kids? It may have been a carefully calculated move to make her popular with women voters. It may even be that some women voters will warm to an MP with such perverse priorities. But I think even more will agree with another commentator who remarked, "You'd have thought on an MP's salary she could afford a nanny.”