The invisibility of childlessness in research: a more inclusive approach
Childlessness is increasing in Australia (ABS 2007, 2008) and other westernised nations (Berrington 2004; Abma and Martinez 2006; Biddlecom and Martin 2006; Dyer 2008; Frejka and Sobotka 2008; Boddingtom and Didham 2009). Despite substantial increases in the prevalence of childlessness in the past two decades (ABS 2007), Australia is still predominantly a pronatalist society (Dever 2005; Heard 2006); even with greater choice and equality for women, motherhood is still the prevailing position. Under a pronatalist discourse, motherhood is the presumed life path for all women, and it is presumed that the act and desire to mother is central to women’s roles and identity (Gillespie 1999, 2003). As such, womanhood has become synonymous with motherhood (Arendall 2000). A consequence of this has been the exclusion of childless women from life-course discourse.