Jacinda Ardern says career v children is a dilemma lots of women face

STUFF

Andrew Little steps down as Labour leader and is replaced by his former deputy Jacinda Ardern.

She's been in the job for less than 24 hours, but already Jacinda Ardern is being asked whether she'll put off having babies in favour of continuing her career.

Ardern was appointed leader of the Labour Party on Tuesday after Andrew Little stepped down following disastrous polling results less than two months out from September's election.

On Tuesday evening Ardern, a 37-year-old woman, was asked about her thoughts on juggling a career at the top and having children during an appearance on TV3's The Project.

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Host Jesse Mulligan asked Ardern whether she felt she had to make a decision between continuing to progress her career or having babies.

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This question was seen by some as anti-feminist.

Jacinda Ardern is 37 and has a partner. She's openly talked about wanting kids. Now she has taken on a very demanding ...
MONIQUE FORD/STUFF

Jacinda Ardern is 37 and has a partner. She's openly talked about wanting kids. Now she has taken on a very demanding job. Does this affect her plans for a family?

TVNZ Breakfast presenter Hilary Barry said on Twitter: "Please can every nob who asks that ask the same of Bill English?"

Others echoed Barry's sentiment, saying male politicians weren't asked the same question.

Some even called the question sexist.

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Newshub weather presenter ingrid Hipkiss said she was "not on board with the question".

However, Ardern took the question in her stride, saying she didn't have a problem with being asked about weighing advancing her political career against having children.

"I've been really open about that dilemma because I think probably lots of women face it," she said.

"For me, my position is no different to the woman who works three jobs, or who might be in a position where they are juggling lots of responsibilities.

"You've just got to take every day as it comes and try and see if you can make the best of the lot you're given.

"So I'm not pre-determining any of that, just like most of the women out here who just make their lives work."

 Ardern has spoken openly in the past about wanting children and a family.

Earlier this year, in an interview with NZME, she said she wanted children and that could make becoming party leader or Prime Minister difficult.

"I don't think they're mutually exclusive, but I think they're difficult.

"If we want Parliament to reflect New Zealand as a society, then we should be able to accommodate both, but at the same time, it's always going to be hard, because you're split-living," Ardern said at the time.

"But maybe there's some benefit out there in being a bit more open about the struggles we all have in balancing these things in our lives? Maybe I just need to be open and have some faith that it'll be okay."

In a separate article for NZME, written by sociologist Jarrod Gilbert in 2016, Ardern said she wouldn't be the next leader of the party after Little.

She said she didn't want to work the ridiculous hours and media scrutiny.

"And having recently moved in with her partner, Auckland media personality Clarke Gayford, she wants to have kids," according to the 2016 article.

At the time she said she could have a family and a life as an MP but not as the leader of a party. And definitely not as Prime Minister.

 - Stuff

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