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Gender at Work at Home: Family Decisions, the Labour Market, and Girls’ Contributions
to the Family Economy
Labour Studies 1AO3E
Feb 5th, 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.