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Labour Studies

Gender at Work at Home: Family Decisions, the Labour Market, and Girls’ Contributions to the Family Economy Bettina Bradbury First Assignment Labour Studies 1AO3E Jacqueline Chan 1220021 th Feb 5 , 2013 This article studied the economy of Canada’s primary and largest industrial hub with a variety of complex industries providing maximum working opportunities (Bradbury, 2000, p.216). Two areas of Montreal were used as the focus wards through out the entire article, they were Ste. Anne and St. Jacques. The author, Bettina Bradbury, studied the working class Montreal families within the time spend of three decades, from 1860 to 1890. Through out the thirty years, the society lived under the ideologies of patriarchy and capitalism (Bradbury, 2000, p.215). Patriarchy is a form of social organization where the male is the authority figure and capitalism is an economic and political system where private businesses are encouraged to maximize their profits. In essence, the French societies in the 1860s were male dominant and sparked the beginning of the growing industries threw new factories and different business sectors. The working class families often struggled to provide for every family member. Each family went through a similar ‘lifecycle’ when it came to generating income. The first stage was when a young couple formed a family with a newborn; usually families like this had one person working (Bradbury, 2000, p.218). The next stage was when the kids reached around the age of eleven or twelve. The children would start looking for jobs that required minimum skills. Both girls and boys earned around the same wage until they turned fifteen or sixteen years old (Bradbury, 2000, p.227). Stage three would occur when the sons and daughters formed their own families and the cycle would go back to stage one (Bradbury, 2000, p. 227). As mentioned above, the first and most obvious difference between boys and girls in the job market was that girls were paid significantly less than the boys. Girls usually earned less than 50% of what the boys earned (Bradbury, 2000, p.226). Once the boys reached the certain age, they could find jobs in a variety of fields, whether it was in factories or different workplaces (Bradbury, 2000, p.221). However, girls were limited to several jobs. Also, despite the fact that girls had a hard time finding work, only single women were desired. In the working world, there seemed to be an invisible line between jobs for men and jobs for women. 2 It was a norm for families to push their children to find jobs once they reached the age of elven or twelve (Bradbury, 2000, p.227). Traditionally, the oldest sons would become the secondary earners (Bradbury, 2000, p.220). The 1860s to 1890s were prosperous times for the factories and businesses. The boys had no trouble looking for employment. If they worked at shoe manufacturers, they would be paid around $7.00 to $8.00 per week and if they were journeymen they would be paid at an average of $11.00 a week (Bradbury, 2000, p.226). The income that the boys brought into their families plus what the father earned would usually kept the family running. On the other hand, girls were not as lucky as the boys. They were paid drastically lower than the boys not because they were incompetent, but because of what the society believed in. Religious leaders were explicit that the mothers would educate their daughters and prepare them for their future roles (Bradbury, 2000, p.222). However, girls did work under some circumstances. If the family did not have a son or if he was too young to work, the oldest daughter would have to take on the responsibility (Bradbury, 2000, p.223). For girls who worked at shoe manufactories, they would earn around $3.00 to $4.00 a week and if they were a bookbinder, they would have made $1.50 to $6.00 a week (Bradbury, 2000, p.226). Clearly, the girls were not paid fairly and that was why fewer girls participated in the labour market. The differences between the genders in terms of their participation in the market were not just based on the society’s ideologies. Instead, the ‘stereotypes’ were created due to the family and societal needs. The difference began when the children were placed in school. Boys and girls were placed into different schools with different curriculums to prepare them for the roles the society had shaped (Bradbury, 2000, p.222). Boys learned about bookkeeping, geography, and other classes that would prepare them for the working world (Bradbury, 2000, p.222). On the other hand, girls would learn about babysitting, cleaning, mending, sewing, cooking, shopping, nursing, hygi
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