Why educate women – isn’t it a waste of resources?

When my wife went to university in London in the eighties one of her professors was of the opinion that the education was wasted on women, since they would leave university, get married and have children. While nobody says these things anymore in public, we still seem to have the same mentality.

Today I travel around the world and speak with all kinds of people about micro-business, like home-business. Often the conversation includes the so called “skill shortage”, felt especially hard in Australia these days. When I question this alleged shortage, I’m always surprised about how little consideration is given to well skilled and educated parents – mainly women – sitting at home looking after the family.

After one of these conversations today, I was reminded of this professor and began wondering if he was right with his opinion in the final analysis? Trivially, his assertion that educating women is a waste, is completely nonsensical, but the final result to the economy seems to suggest his analysis could be right. How else can it be explained that we ignore this massive “skills resource” sitting at home.

The technology we at WinWeb have developed allows for work from anywhere at anytime, others have done the same in other areas? Where is this “skill shortage”? The truth in my opinion is more the fact that we often block this remote working possibility from our minds, but why?

If you consider the skills potential of parents, if each parent would only contribute one hour on average per week to their learned professions. This would be a staggering number of man hours per week.

The benefits for the home working parent would be very tangible too. They could show a almost uninterrupted work history, stay in touch with their profession and would therefor find it much easier to get back into full-time employment after the kids have grown up.

To often my conversation partners look somewhat bewildered at my initial suggestion, but then often admit they had never thought about this possibility.

It is not a waste to educate women or any parent, it is however a waste to treat parents as if they do not exist in work terms. I consider it an insult to each parent and unbelievably damaging for our economy. — ST.

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