Winter Handout Lecture 2 Gendered division of labour contemporary
For Social Science 1185 from L. Wiggins
GENDERED DIVISION OF LABOUR – CONTEMPORARY
1. Post War patterns:
• Increased unionization; improved work conditions and higher wages for workers
• Shift in clerical work from male to female workers; continued occupational
segregation based on gender & gender wage gap
• Drop in relative importance of women’s factory work, rise in importance of service
• Rise in average age of women workers, more married women and women with
o Rising real wages made waged work attractive
o Increase in education for women & decrease in fulfilment level found in
housework; impact of Women’s Movement, other social movements
o Necessary to maintain real income of families
• By end of 20 Century, dominance of corporate capitalism, multi-nationals &
capital-intensive technology – so pressure to keep other costs, such as wages, as low
• Women’s double day of waged & unwaged work
2. Examining the gendered division of labour
• The structure of capitalism & role of economy & state (legislation re wages,
benefits, pensions etc.) - organization of certain groups of workers into competitive
& service sector OR the monopoly/state sectors
• Reserve labour of women phenomenon
• Relationships between domestic labour & wage labour - women are disadvantaged
because of double day tasks so double committments 2
• Lack of availability of daycare & other structural level support for women’s lived
• Ideology about women's place vs. men’s place - a number of influential myths about
gender, family & waged work.
Myth: an unproven collective belief that is accepted uncritically (so isn’t problematized)
and often used to justify a social institution and social organization; mobilizes common
sense ideas that are often part of the dominant ideology; often relies on claims of being
‘natural’ and ‘normal’.
3. Examining ‘family work’ (housework, mother work) as socially
• Recognizing that it is real work & connected to the public, waged sphere; provides
a support system for waged workers & replenishes them on a daily basis, provides
new workers (reproduction). Family/household also functions as a unit of
consumption which requires work.
• Takes considerable time and energy, & requires skills. Many argue that
expectations & time involved have intensified in modern era.
• Challenge or problematize the idea that housework and mother work are a ‘labour
of love’ & “natural” for women, along with other myths & stereotypes.
Identify important myths about women and work, both in the family and waged.
Use examples from course material well as your own observations. Then see if you can
challenge these myths.
To consider: Why is it