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SOC207 Women and Work docx

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Reading 4 (Krahn, Lowe, and Hughes: 169-174; 187-217) Women Employment - Difference between sex and gender is that sex is the biological distinction between men and women; gender is socially constructed in the sense that it refers to how a particular society defines masculine and feminine roles Women’s Economic Role in Historical Context - in the west in the early 1900’s, women contributed significantly to agriculture development by working on their family farms and by making the farm home “a haven of safety and healthfulness” Industrialization and Women’s Work - large-scale production was a growing separation between men’s and women’s work - men were drawn into the industrial wage-labour market; women were increasingly confined to the domestic sphere of the household - Ontario’s early economy was primarily based on two staple exports, wheat and timber, which were subject to unstable international markets - Women’s household labour had to fulfill two functions: generate family income by producing agricultural goods to sell in the local consumer market, and perform the domestic chores necessary for the family’s survival - Cohen’s research underlines the importance of examining how the public and private spheres of market and household have been intertwined in diverse ways during all phases of economic development, with women always performing pivotal roles although quite different from those performed by men - Unpaid domestic labour if women –raising the future of generation of workers and feeding, clothing, and caring for the present generation of workers was an essential function within capitalism - Double day or the second shift, whereby most married women spend their days in paying jobs, yet still assume most of the responsibilities of childcare and domestic chores when the get home - In some cases, married women labored at the margins of the economy in domestic and other menial jobs that usually had been abandoned by single women - Household managers –wives “stretched the wages” of male family members and single daughters as far as possible, occasionally supplementing this by taking in boarders or turning to neighbors or charities for help The Family Wage Ideology - Esp. influential in perpetuating women’s subordinate roles as unpaid family workers was the ideology of the family wage o one of labour unions demand was that wages should be high enough to allow a male breadwinner to support a wife and children o employers limited their hiring to mainly single women o the family wage ideology may have benefited those women who were dependent on husband by raising the standard of living in working-class families o the price to pay was restriction of women’s labour market opportunities to areas in which they would not compete directly with men –hence the endurance of the term male breadwinner - Joy Parr’s case studies of two Ontario industrial towns, Paris and Hanover, between 1880 and 1950 caution is against thinking in binary oppositions –masculine/feminine, market/non-market, public/ private, wage/non-waged o Both small manufacturing communities o But the knit-goods industry based in Paris relied on largely female workforce, while in Hanover’s large furniture factory the workers were almost exclusively male o This brief historical sketch has identified a number of prominent themes; first:  Although their widespread participation in the paid labour force is a recent development, women have always made essential economic contributions  Second, women’s entry into paid employment occurred in ways that reproduced their subordinate position in society relative to that of men, although the specific forms of this took varied across time and place  Third, changing interconnections among households, families, and the wage-labour market are crucial to understanding women’s roles in the continuing evolution of 21 century capitalism Female Labour Force Participation Patterns - Virtually all industrial nations have experienced rising female labour force participation rates since the end of WW2 - The tremendous expansion of white-collar service sector jobs, coupled with rising educational levels and a declining birthrate, drew millions of Canadian women into employment at an accelerated rate Influences on Women’s Employment Gender Segregation in the Labour Market - Occupational gender segregation refers to the concentration of men and women in different occupations - Combination of gender-role socialization, education, and labour market mechanisms continue to channel women into a limited number of occupations in which mainly other females are employed Female Job Ghettos - Female job ghettos typically offer little economic security and little opportunity for advancement; furthermore the work is often unpleasant, boring and sometimes physically taxing - These male segments of the labour market operate as shelters, conferring advantages on workers within them through entrance restrictions - It is important to recognize that job opportunities determine an individual’s living standard, future prospects, and overall quality of life – in Max Weber’s terms life chances - Gender labeling of jobs – once a job was labeled male or female; it was difficult for workers of the opposite sex to gain entry Trends in Labour Market Gender Segregation - Nonstandard work (ie. Self-employment, part-time, temporary contract) vs standard job can be considered a masculine norm of employment –the husband as family breadwinner, working full time and in a more or less permanent job with the same employer - Perhaps the most feminized form of nonstandard work is temporary employment - Clerical work was one of the few traditionally male jobs to undergo this feminization process - Women were making gains in what can be called non-traditional jobs, those in which me have predominated - To the extent that occupational gender segregation is breaking down, it is due to women moving into male-dominated areas, not vice versa Gender Stratification within Occupations - Vertical segregation –this refers to how a gendered division of tasks, statuses, and responsibilities exists within specific occupations - In addition to law, women have also made breakthroughs in the male domains of business, medicine, and dentistry - Women still encounter glass ceiling –subtle barriers to advancement that persist despite formal policies designed to eliminate them - The implication of course is that unless all jobs at the bottom of the occupational hierarchy are upgraded in terms of pay and working conditions, gender equality as defined above would only be a partial advance for women The Wage Gap - Gender wage gap (or female-male earnings ratio) - This distinction between full-time and part-time earnings reflects the growing employment disparities among women and between the sexes in the service economy Gender-Based Inequality of Earnings - Real earnings: which means that the effects of inflation have been eliminated by adjusting earnings - Wages are a basic indicator of overall job quality - High wages are also a part of a larger package of extrinsic and intrinsic job rewards o To paying relatively well, “good jobs” usually offer other advantages: a range of benefits, job security, advancement opportunities and interesting and challenging work o Female employees are less likely than men to receive non-wage benefits, such as a group RRSP, life and disability insurance, supplementary health insurance or a dental plan - Women are more likely to report “job quality” deficits in terms of extrinsic rewards such as wages and non-wage benefits - In short, the gender wage gap is part of a broadly based discrepancy between quality of jobs performed by men and women - Women’s living standards also mean reduced living standards - Thus, in best paying occupations women have greater chance of receiving a lower salary - The highest paid occupations are male-dominated - Studies of women and men with comparable education, age and work experience have found a wage gap (albeit a small one) immediately after graduation - Researchers have also noted a “motherhood penalty” in waged received by working mothers Accounting for Women’s Lower Earnings -
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