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Lecture 6

SOC275H5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: The Hooters, Precarious Work, Sex Segregation

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Hae Yeon Choo

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SOC275 LECTURE 6: The Gendered World of Work
The modern divide between the public and private sphere in the 19th century:
Virtually every society has a gendered division of labour that must be done in order for
the society as a whole to survive.
Along with industrialization, there was a huge shift in how work was understood. The
place of work became outside the home, which is a public sphere where work
happened, and home as private sphere where reproduction, domestic responsibilities
In the twentieth century, the rate of women entering the labour force exceeded that of
In the twentieth century, the percentage of women working: 16.2% in 1911 to more than
62% in 2008(between age 25-54, more than 80% in 2003).
Shift from male breadwinner model to the dual-earner couples, distributing family
Precarious work and feminization of labor:
From standard employment relationship (family wage, benefits, long-term contract) to
precarious work. – Ex. Not guaranteed employment at a factory unlike standard
employment relationship. Another example is social work that is precarious, mainly
occupied by women.
Female jobs in retail or child care are often categorized as precarious employment.
The rise of precarious work since the 1970s: currently one third of Canadian jobs and
precarious, and 40% of women (and 29% of men) fit this category
Precarious work is not family friendly. – It became the norm and now it is becoming
common, especially for young adults.
This has allowed employers to hire women on terms that would be unacceptable to
most men, because female work is considered ‘just doe pin money’ (extra money).
Precarious work includes lack of control over work conditions, lack of regulatory
protection, and low income.
Precarious work also includes self-employment, temporary work, the holding of multiple
jobs, and part-time or on-call labour.
The reason why many women tolerate precarious employment is because it pays better
than foreign women working as domestic workers. Hence, they are still better off than
how they would get paid in their own countries.

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Most importantly, women’s overrepresentation in precarious employment contributes to
the gender wage gap.
Persisting Gender Ideologies of male breadwinner/female housewife model:
Gender ideologies still exist; the belief that women should be at home has not changed.
Workplace as a testing ground of masculinity. Still to this day, the workplace is a ground
for masculinity. Ex. Breaking Bad: Walter White reinforces his masculinity by drug
dealing, because his masculinity is threatened as a teacher, whereas his friends are
millionaires. His wife works as well, but it is not enough.
Men often feel that they are supposed to be tough, aggressive, and competitive at the
workplace. They combine masculinity with workplace success. They remain unaware
that the work they are doing is also producing and reproducing gender dynamics; they
see it as just ‘work’, Men, hate failure at workplace.
Confining women’s work as “auxiliary,” secondary and offering assistance to men’s work
Denying women a fair living wage based on the assumption that their income is “extra
pocket money.”
Persisting Gender Discrimination in the Workplace:
Gender discrimination at the workplace particularly excludes women. Employers feel
women don’t want to work, have different interests, and don’t need the money.
What is sex/gender discrimination? : the question of bona fide occupational requirement
(BFOR). BFOR requires certain criteria of an individual to perform the job.
The case of RCMP and Firefighting weight/ height requirement and Meiorin test (1990)
– Prior to 1990, there was weight and height requirement to join the police force. You
were required to have certain strength to become a firefighter. Statistically women weigh
less. Discrimination therefore occurred because the police force required men that had
a certain body type. Therefore, the weight/height requirement factor was replaced by a
new fitness test which is a strength test. Tawny Meiorin, a BC firefighter, failed one
component of the test, and was therefore dismissed. She argued that the test was
discriminatory and invalid as a measure of BFOR. The Supreme Court agreed, and
argued that evidence showed that prescribed aerobic capacity was not necessary for
either men or women to perform work of a forest fire fighter safely and efficiently.
The case of Hooters? – Hooters hire specific women with particular look. When men
tried working at hooters, they were rejected. In response, a lawsuit was filed arguing

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sex discrimination. The Hooters restaurant argued that they required specific gender for
restaurant purpose (ex. Sex appeal). Women promoted a certain image. Hooters
countered that ‘female sexuality is a bona fide occupation’. Female sexuality was
mandatory to sell sex appeal.
Sexual Harassment in the Workplace:
Sexual harassment is a kind of sex discrimination. It refers to an unlawful employment
practice for an employer.
The Supreme Court of Canada defines it as a “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature
that damagingly affects the work environment or leads to adverse job-related
consequences for the victim of the harassment
Quid pro quo sexual harassment: a type of sexual harassment where a trade of
sexual contact is offered for a reward or avoidance of punishment. Ex. ‘Sleep with me
and you’ll get promoted’ OR ‘don’t sleep with me and you’ll get fired’.
Hostile environment: it creates an environment where women in particular feel
unwelcomed, uncomfortable, threatened or unsafe. Ex. A fire fighter claimed that she
had faced discrimination and harassment, including the display of hardcore
pornography, the placing of a condom with a sexual slur on it in her locker and
tampering with her equipment.
The issue of sexual harassment is not sexual attraction, but power. – It is a display of
power. It is about making workers feel unwelcome in the workplace, about reminding
them that they do not belong because the workplace is men’s space. A way of keeping
women in their places and out of men’s.
However, sexual harassment is not always directed towards women. Men too can be
harmed by sexual harassment from others. Ex. An older Ohio firefighter who sued his
department after complaining that adult diapers and pornographic materials showing
older men having homosexual sex had been placed in his gear.
However, most harassers remain male.
Gendered Labor Market and the Organizational Structure:
Underlying the idea of “organizational gender neutrality”
Lies the Ideal (Male) worker who completely devote to work without family
responsibilities, often with the support of the “wife”.
This is problematic for women who need to balance both family and work.
Sex segregation is when higher occupations are dominant by men, and lower by
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