To what extent has women’s work and increased

To what extent has women’s work and increased engagement in the labor market altered the traditional division of labor within the place?

In many countries of public life women’s topographic point has improved. The ratio of work forces to adult females in senior places in the work force is bettering ; the Numberss of adult females go toing university is equal to work forces ; the chief political parties all address the issue of gender equality and no election run is complete without its inclusion. However, if women’s topographic point in the populace sphere has improved significantly, it has non improved in the domestic domain where adult females remain the rule housekeepers and child-carers. In this essay, I will reason that there is small difference in the division of labor in the place of twosomes who co-habit now to that which existed three decennaries ago. I will propose that this indicates that the state of affairs can merely be partially explained by feminist theories and a new paradigm must be sought. I will tentatively propose that the addition in the divorce rates, of which proportionally more adult females originate than work forces, could mean women’s alternate solution to this job, as an country worthy of future research.

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Writers of feminist theory find sociologists of past decennaries and historiographers in general unhelpful because of their deficiency of involvement in women’s day-to-day lives and the kingdom of housekeeping ( Oakley, 1974, chapter 1 ; Jackson, 1992, p154 ) . Ann Oakley’s anger against sociologists may hold cogency but historiographers certainly deserve some leeway in that their surveies are dependent on the being of beginnings. Housework does non go forth many written beginnings and family contraptions can non state us who used them. Ruth Schwartz Cowan gives the fairest analysis, as she suggests that in the past many family undertakings required an input from work forces ; either in a physical capacity, such as by assisting travel heavy points and bring forth nutrient for the tabular array. She points out that while adult females scrubbed the floor, work forces made the lye to scour it with. However, she suggests work forces besides needed to bring forth a excess of some sort in order to supply the little figure of points that had to be bought for the family ( Cowan, 1989, p25 ) .

Cowan suggests the most of import factor in the history of housekeeping was the industrialisation that happened in the paid-work universe ( which, she points out, did non interpret at the same velocity into the domestic domain ) . She is amongst the feminist theoreticians who saw this period as the point when separation of ‘work place’ from ‘home place’ took topographic point, which catapulted the work forces into the former but left adult females in the latter ( Cowan, 1989, p18-19 ) A decennary subsequently, Charles and Kerr begin their consideration of ‘women’s work’ by citing the Victorian proverb that ‘a woman’s topographic point is in the home’ ( Allen, 1999, p191 ) . Therefore, if information about women’s activities in the yesteryear is little, I would wish to turn to what can be spoken of with more assurance, surveies done in the twentieth and 21st centuries.

The rise in the figure of adult females in the work force in the 20th century can be seen in a figure of surveies carried out in the early 1970s. Elizabeth Roberts, utilizing a tabular array based on nose count informations, shows that married adult females in the labour force increased from 1951, where it was at 26 % , to 1971, when it had risen to 49 % ( Roberts, 1995, p118 ) . Roberts explains that one of the grounds for this was that women’s gaining power was necessary to assist equilibrate the household budget, although she besides points out that it was by and large non well-paid work and frequently parttime ( Roberts, 1995, pp115, 119 ) . It could be argued that there is small difference between Mrs Lodge, who Roberts quotation marks in her chapter on women’s paid employment, who explained why she took full-time employment when her first kid was a babe, ‘I had to travel to work because we couldn’t manage. And I went back to the lamp mill and worked there’ , and the thirteenth-century homemaker, referred to by many authors, who contributed to the family economic system with her housewifery ( Roberts, 1995, p124 ) .

If by 1971, 49 % of married adult females worked, what were their duties in the place? Oakley suggests that it would be logical that the rise of women’s topographic point in the labor market would take to work forces taking on a greater proportion of domestic occupations. However, this is non what she found in her survey of 40 adult females in 1971 ( Oakley, 1974, pp135-136 ) . Merely 20 % of work forces in middle-class families and 10 % of work forces in working-class families had a high degree of engagement in family labor, go forthing 80 % of middle-class work forces with a medium to low degree and 90 % of propertyless work forces ; of this 90 % , 5 % did a medium degree of domestic work and 85 % low degrees ( Oakley, 1974, p137 ) . However, Roberts points out Oakley’s deficiency of involvement in whether adult females wanted work forces to take part in domestic work ; she points out that this state of affairs was non ever the mistake of the adult male in the house. Not all adult females wanted an invasion into what was seen as their ‘territory’ . She interviewed a Mr Graveson, who, talking about his male parent, explained, ‘… if he picked up a dust storm he was in trouble…he wasn’t allowed to make anything in the house. Many a clip he would offer but ne’er of all time would he be acceptable.’ ( Roberts, 1995, p36 ) . However, Roberts had to agree that even if old theoreticians hadn’t asked sufficiently examining inquiries as to why this was the instance, she had to accept that this instability in domestic undertaking allotment surely existed.

If the figures of men’s engagement in domestic affairs in the seventiess, when about 50 % of married adult females worked, is surprising, current figures are even more so. Despite several decennaries of the ‘women’s release movement’ being actively involved in altering both statute law and people’s attitudes, and the addition in women’s engagement in paid work, the figures of work forces take parting in domestic work in 2000 are highly hapless. A authorities study revealed adult females passing three hours a twenty-four hours making housekeeping ( excepting shopping and child care ) and work forces merely one hr and 40 proceedingss. 40 % of work forces ne’er washed or ironed apparels. The same study shows that adult females who work full-time spend on mean four and a half hours on child care compared to three and half for work forces ( Time Use Survey, 2000, p224 ) .

This is non merely a British job. The New York Times on 15 September 2004, citing a merely published study by the US Department of Labor, reports that 78 % of adult females work ; more than 60 % of these adult females said they prepared repasts and did housework on an mean twenty-four hours, compared to merely 19 % of work forces who said they did housekeeping and 34 % who said they helped with repasts. Interestingly, the author of this newspaper article explains that in his personal state of affairs they hire person to make their housekeeping for them. A household of Mexicans do their housekeeping, with the adult male making the same jobs as the adult female. In paid work the genders are happy to take part in the same undertakings, it would be interesting to cognize what happens at place in this household of Mexicans.

There have been a figure of theories put frontward to seek and explicate this go oning anomalousness. Two chief overarching theories for this go oning province of personal businesss in the domestic kingdom have been suggested. One is that adult females are ‘oppressed’ because they are disadvantaged by a capitalist system that gives a higher position to paid work ; they earn the least, hence, the higher pay earner ‘deserves’ more leisure clip as a wages, go forthing the lower or non-wage earner to make the bulk of the domestic labor. However, as Julie Seymour points out, the survey carried out in Blackburn she uses as the footing of her thesis suggests that this is non needfully the ground. In this survey she points out that un-employed and, hence, non-earning work forces took on time-consuming avocations instead than take on a larger domestic load. She quotes Paul Willis, composing in 1979, who argued that the ground for behavior like this was because paid-work is seen as masculine and domestic labor as feminine ( Seymour, 1992, pp188-189 ) . Presumably a adult male already experiencing emasculated by the deficiency of a occupation would see taking on the feminine undertaking of housekeeping to be excessively endangering to his self-image. It is clear that adult females, besides, don’t equate clip with money. Seymour quotes another survey carried out in 1973 by Young and Wilmott, who discovered that 75 % of married adult females chose clip off in stead in penchant to overtime, unlike 47 % of married work forces and 46 % of individual adult females, who chose money ( Seymour, 1992, p190 ) . Clearly gaining power is non the whole reply to why adult females in the 21st century still set about the majority of the domestic jobs.

The 2nd major theory voiced is that this ‘oppression’ comes approximately because of Patriarchy. This is a system where work forces hold the power, frequently for cultural or spiritual grounds and societal alteration is necessary in both public and private in order to change this province. A figure of the theoreticians studied for this essay, including Stevi Jackson, reference this as a ground for women’s ‘oppression’ but few go into item of how or why this remains a factor in an progressively secular universe, which has embraced the construct of adult females being equal for a figure of decennaries. Jackson herself asks ‘Why do adult females come in into a relationship in which they are exploited? ’ She replies by proposing that it is still in women’s best economic involvement to make so and is preferred to being individual ( Jackson, 1992, p169 ) . It could be suggested that the increasing divorce rate, the bulk now instigated by adult females, and the addition in individual adult females taking to hold kids outside of a lasting partnership, is grounds that Jackson is right ( Social Trends, 2003, pp 43, 46 )

I suggest that the emphasis of some feminist theoreticians have stunted the development of believing on these issues. Sociological research entirely has clearly failed to give a convincing ground for the failure of alteration to happen in the domestic domain, yet people from other subjects have been wary of fall ining in such a combative argument. Simon Baron-Cohen, a professor of psychological science and psychopathology, explains in the first chapter of his book,The Essential Difference: Work force, Women and the Extreme Male Brain, that he had spent more than five old ages composing his book ‘because the subject was merely excessively politically sensitive to finish in the 1990s…’ He suggests that socialisation fails as an account for the differences between the sexes ; he asks if biological science plays a important function ( Baron-Cohen, 2003, 11 ) . Alison Wolf, a professor in public sector direction, composing about adult females in the workplace in a recent edition ofProspectmagazine discovered the same danger when she was slated by feminist authors in newspapers following the publication of her article ( Prospect, 2006 ) . If practicians of other subjects, who might lend to an account of the difference between work forces and adult females, are afraid to fall in the argument for fright of ridicule, one has to oppugn the cogency of bing theories. It is possibly apprehensible that adult females, who have surely lived with inequality for coevalss, should be fearful that their ‘oppressors’ might be seeking to undo the equality they have achieved therefore far. However, if adult females genuinely believe themselves to be equal, they must non fear inquiry or examination.

In this essay we have looked at how the traditional division of labor within the place has non altered significantly despite women’s increased engagement in the work force. We have considered the thought that the ground for this is to be found in the subjugation of adult females either by Capitalism or Patriarchy or both moving synergistically. We have besides seen that research completed over the last few decennaries show that these accounts are deficient. In visible radiation of this we have besides considered that sometimes the aggressive nature of the argument has stunted it, as practicians of other subjects choose non to take part for fright of ridicule. More research is needed and one country that could turn out profitable is to look into if the lifting divorce rate and addition in individual adult females holding kids outside of a partnership is women’s response to their inequality within the domestic domain.


Charles, N. and Kerr, M. , ‘Women’s Work’ , in Allen, G, ed. ,The Sociology of the Family: a reader, Blackwell: Oxford, 1999

Cowan, R. , MoreWork for Mother: the sarcasms of family engineering from the unfastened fireplace to the microwave, Free Association: London, 1989

Jackson, S. , ‘Towards a Historical Sociology of Housework’ ,Women’s Studies International Forum, 15:2, 1992, 153-172

Oakley, A. ,The Sociology of Housework, Robertson: London, 1974

Roberts, E. ,Womans and Families: an unwritten history 1940-1970,Blackwell: Oxford, 1995

Seymour, J. , ‘”No clip to name my own” : Women’s Time as a Household Resource’ ,

Women’s Studies International Forum, 15:2, 187-192

Summerfield, C and Babb P. , eds. ,Social Tendencies, 33, HMSO: London, 2003

Wolf, A. ,Prospect, John Kelly: London, April 2006, 28-33

The New York Times, September15, 2004

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