Are you working for free at school?


It seems women’s unpaid labour doesn’t end in the home.

When Ben and I signed up for parent/helper this year, we did it together. The school asked for parents to support on a fortnightly basis from 9-10am. It seemed like a simple thing to sign up to, so we didn’t give it a second thought other than to see that if we shared it, we actually only did it once a month. But it seemed we were the exception to the rule. I did the first session, and Ben did the alternate fortnight, and so it was a month in when Fitz came home proudly and shared that Daddy was the only Dad doing parent helper at school. As it turns out, Ben is far more popular than me. And Fitzy is the proudest kid at school. There’s also something in it for us: we get a glimpse into their beautiful, innocent world, and walk away feeling all their love and gratitude. But it’s the same drill with Tuckshop, lunch orders, assemblies, thank you lunches for the teachers, grandparents morning teas…need I go on? All the research indicates that men take more informal flexibility than women. This article, together with our own experience, makes me wonder what they are using it for? “If schools and community groups can only operate off the backs of women’s unpaid and unrecognised labour, then the model is broken.”