Category Archives: Academia

Comparison of different childhoods

New Yorker article on “Why Are American Kids So Spoilt?”

Read this article this morning – oy vey. What an eye-opener!

Somewhat relieved that I make Miss 6-y-o, my DD, do chores. It’s expected that she can get herself dressed and that she can pack her schoolbag (granted, with a little nudging some mornings). She feeds the kitten and I clean the kitty litter. Those sorts of things. If she sat back and expected me to pander to every requirement, I would go nuts pretty quickly and doing everything for her would do her no service whatsoever. I want her to grow into a resilient, reliable, thoughtful adult.


Tags: , ,

Older mums – a bit more

I wrote an earlier response here to a WA professor’s declaration that older mothers are selfish for a variety of reasons.

One thing that has come back again and again to me from friends, older mothers and those who have not had the opportunity to become mothers, is that there’s a disconnect in some people’s lives between one person wanting to have children, and their partner not wanting children, or not wanting to settle down.

I was interested to read an article today by Sara Holton, Jane Fisher and Heather Rowe that asserts that women delaying having children for selfish reasons in order to pursue personal ambitions or hedonistic activities such as travel are not supported by the evidence.

The article is based upon To have or not to have? Australian women’s childbearing desires, expectations and outcomes by the above women in JOURNAL OF POPULATION RESEARCH DOI: 10.1007/s12546-011-9072-3. I have the article here on my screen (the joys of access to a university library – thank you).

From the news article:

[T]he selfish, career-focused woman who chooses not to have children or delays childbearing is a myth. Women are not helped by the accusations that have been directed at them in recent weeks.

Women would benefit from public policies that are more sensitive to and address the barriers they face in having children.

In addition to the welcome recent improvements in maternity benefits, such sensitive public policies could include education for men about female fertility and the risks to their partner’s health of postponing childbearing.

Other initiatives could include flexible repayment options to permit suspension of higher-education debts while women provide unpaid care for dependent young children, and maximising housing affordability.

Many women would have more children if they could and if circumstances allowed. Women reported a main barrier was their partner’s reluctance to have a child, or another child.

Given that, I feel it is irresponsible for pundits and researchers to yell at ‘older mothers’ for being ‘selfish’ and having children later in life.


Tags: , , , , , ,

School uniform

My latest reading is

Dressed for Success? The Effect of School Uniforms on Student Achievement and Behavior
Elisabetta Gentile, Scott A. Imberman
NBER Working Paper No. 17337
Issued in August 2011

Why am I interested in this working paper? As a child I was forced to endure school uniforms every day at school for 10 long years. Kindergarten and secondary college (Years 11 and 12) did not have a uniform.

I heard the usual reasons for uniform compliance: everyone looks the same, you can tell which school a kid is from, it looks neat, it engenders respect, kids behave better, etc. I was never given hard evidence that kids behaved better in uniform.

I remember the horrible scratchy wool-nylon blend fabric used for our unattractive plaid skirts, the Midford school shirts that never sat correctly on the bust, the horrible shoes, and the rebels who would daringly wear sneakers with their uniforms and claim that their parents couldn’t afford school shoes, though they could afford sneakers that were nearly twice the cost of school shoes.

It was interesting to read what the researchers discovered after examining data from a large urban school district in the south-west United States, which historically has a different approach towards school uniform policies. I recommend that you read the full paper yourself.

[W]e fou nd that uniforms have a positive influence on student attendance in secondary grades. Attendance rates in grades
6 through 12 increase by 0.3 to 0.4 percentage points after a school adopts uniforms. On
the other hand, we fou nd little evidence that uniforms have lasting impacts on achievement,
grade retention, or the likelihood of students switching schools or leaving the district for all
genders and grade levels.

In terms of discipline we also fou nd little evidence of uniform e ffects.

Leave a comment

Posted by on September 5, 2011 in Academia, Article



Commuting makes mums mad




Jennifer Roberts | Robert Hodgson | Paul Dolan
external link 
It’s driving her mad: gender differences in the effects of commuting on psychological health Journal of Health Economics  






Tags: , , ,

Bookmarks on your internet browser – good or not?

I admit that I have a lot of bookmarks for internet browsers, usually methodically filed under various headings (e.g. Education, Journals, Children, Psychology, etc.) I also bookmark things which I come across while doing research for lecturers, not necessarily what they wanted but things I’d found serendipitously.

The drawback is, of course, that I find the bookmarks later when I think “How on earth did I get to that one?” Or worse still, “Why did I take the effort to bookmark that?”

My treat today is from the American Association of Wine Economists, the AAWE Working Paper No. 36, .

After ranking the samples on the basis
of taste, subjects were challenged to identify which of the five was dog food. Although
72% of subjects ranked the dog food as the worst of the five samples in terms of taste
(Newell and MacFarlane multiple comparison, P<0.05), subjects were not better than
random at correctly identifying the dog food.

Best bit:

44% (8) of subjects incorrectly chose liverwurst (sample E) as the dog food.

We conclude that, although human beings do not enjoy eating dog food, they are
also not able to distinguish its flavor profile from other meat-based products that are
intended for human consumption.

Leave a comment

Posted by on May 16, 2011 in Academia, Article, Food, Odd stuff


Tags: , ,

The Job Search

The job search continues.

As I address selection criteria, polish my CV and my best black shoes, and trying to remember to take my best handbag to interviews, I came across this new study from the ANU by Dr Liana Leach and her team, Bad jobs will make you miserable. Please do not dismiss this as Yet Another Case of the Bleedin’ Obvious. What Dr Leach found is that it’s not enough that you have a job. She found that “people who moved from unemployment into poor quality jobs were much more likely to be depressed than those who were still unemployed”. The quality of the job you have makes a profound difference to your wellbeing.

I can’t direct you to a copy of the paper yet but if you follow the link above, the media office should be able to give you a copy.

To all who are job hunting, I wish you all the best.

Leave a comment

Posted by on October 15, 2010 in Academia, Article



Time-poor single mums

Read more here.

I found it interesting that single mothers are more time poor than those women who are in a partnership and have no children. This is NOT an article to feed into the mummy wars, but rather something for us to think about in terms of discretionary use of time. There is a heap of difference between those who have the option to choose to work more hours, and those who simply must work many hours.

Leave a comment

Posted by on July 9, 2010 in Academia, the mummy race