Lecture 10/31/2001 - Marriage, Family and Work
Two ideas – myth of separate worlds. - Intersection of
Family work is invaluable to the entire economic system. Without workers being cared for by family, there would be no work. Likewise the economy impacts on the institution of family in numerous ways: the amount of its resources (income, time, childcare)
The ideology of separate spheres – men in the public sphere; women in private sphere doesn’t exist anymore – certainly didn’t exist for many women.
With the advent of industrialization, things began to change. New forms of technology and the promise of new financial opportunities and a good living drew people away from the farms and into cities and factories where they could earn wages for their work. Many of the first factory workers were actually women. But as factory work came to be seen less as a peripheral activity and more as the primary feature of the new economy, men took control of this new source of income, power and prestige.
Industrialization relieved men of much of their domestic labor duties. And women no longer found themselves involved in the day-today supervision of the family’s business as they had once been. Instead they were consigned to the only domestic responsibilities that remained the care and nurturing of children and the maintenance of the household. Since this work was unpaid and since visible goods were no longer being produced at home, women quickly found their work devalued in the emerging industrial economy.
The good provider role as a specialized male role emerged around the 1830s with the rise of the market-based industrial economy and "officially" ended in 1980 when the US Census declared that a male was not automatically assumed to be the head of the household.
In the first decades of industrialization, the divergence between men’s and women’s labor resulted in the ideology of separate spheres. Women’s place was in the home (the "private;’ sphere); men’s was in the work world outside the home (the "public" sphere). This ideal fostered the belief that men and women were naturally predisposed to different pursuits.
Women - natural weakness and frailty - too weak for the dog-eat-dog life of the competitive labor force.
Men - naturally, strict, aggressive, calculating, rational and bold - a perfect fit for the demands of the marketplace.
The reality of American family life has never quite fit this image. At the turn of the century 120,000 children - some as young as 11 - worked in PA coal mines and factories - children 1/4 of all workers in southern textile.
Women - By 1900 one-fifth of American women worked outside the home.
In 1880 73% of black single women and 35% of black married women reported paid jobs.
as opposed to 23% of white single women and 7% of white married women
Immigrant women, especially from southern and eastern Europe, rarely worked outside the home and would therefore seem to support the ideal of separate spheres. However, they contributed significantly to the family income by taking in boarders, sewing, making paper flowers and cigars or taking on a variety of other money-earning tasks that could be done in the home.
Women's Changing Work Lives
Education Trends - Almost one out of four young women and men were earning college degrees in the 1990s. Over half of all bachelor's and master's degrees were conferred on women in 1993. Women earned 38% of all doctoral degrees in 1993.
Increase in Women's Employment - From 1940 until the mid-to-late 1960s, labor force activity increased most among women who were past their prime childrearing years. During the 1970s and 1980s, as the marriage age rose, fertility declined, and women's educational attainment increased; the growth in labor force participation spread to young women.
Many women now postpone family formation to complete their education and establish themselves in the labor force. Women often curtail their commitment to paid work when they have children. Despite family obligations, however, a majority of women of all educational levels now work outside the home during the years they are raising children.
Women's labor market involvement is still lower than men's. Many mothers work part-time and some drop out of the labor force while their children are young. But there is little doubt that the economic activity of the two genders has become more similar in recent decades.
By 1996, most married mothers with children had some involvement in market work, and many, though not the majority, worked full-time.
Why is there more earning parity for men and women. Less -educated women improved their earnings situation vis a vis men, not only because they increased the amount of time they allocated to market work but also because men's wages were not rising.
Both less and better-educated women are filling a family breadwinner role, but for somewhat different reasons . Highly educated women have invested time and energy in obtaining skills and they are likely to have jobs with greater financial and psychological rewards, but they also tend to marry men with similar attributes. Thus, motivation to work for pay is high, but financial need may not be so high. Less-educated women may fill less-rewarding jobs, not only with regard to pay but perhaps in terms of flexibility and autonomy. Their husbands' wages alone tend to be insufficient to maintain a middle-class lifestyle, however, and they must continue to work for pay after marriage and children.
Women may still envision more choice than men when it comes to decisions about paid work. But choice is tied to issues of economic dependence and independence. They work because that is what adult women do - they support themselves and those who depend on them.
Women at higher educational levels work more than less-educated women.
Since the 1950s, the boundary separating men’s and women’s spheres has steadily eroded. Today about 46% of all people in the paid labor force today are women, compared to a little under 32 percent in 1950. Furthermore, 60% of American mothers with children under 6 are employed.
Yet despite these trends, Americans still tend to perceive domestic work as women’s sphere and outside employment as men’s sphere. As Bianchi points out "The simultaneous holding of both breadwinning and caregiving roles is the hallmark of women's changed lives. Yet the images of the 1950s remain - images of the good life provided by stay-at-home moms and hard-working dads."
Only 1/3 of working women say they ‘d stay home - if money were no object.
Gender Ideology in the Workplace
Although women and men are now both in the workplace, traditional gender ideologies still affect their experiences there. Gender ideologies refer to the ways people identify themselves regarding the work, marital, and family roles that are traditionally linked to gender. Gender ideology is what distinguished the man who believes that breadwinning is "men’s work" and housework is "women’s work" from the man who believes that "being male" means sharing breadwinning and cooperating with household chores. Employers as well as the public at large still believe women and men are naturally inclined to do certain jobs in the paid labor force.
The standard assumptions that drive the typical workplace usually disadvantage women. Commitment - attending conferences, training programs, working extra hours, entertaining, etc. Since women still tend to have the lion’s share of responsibility at home, they have more difficulty making time for these activities - can’t prove that they are committed.
The Wage Gap - Women’s earning power and thus their ability to financially support their families - lags behind men’s
Women earn approximately 71 cents to every man’s dollar. More pronounced for African-American women and Hispanic women, 65 and 55 cents respectively.
The wage gap has decreased - in 1973 was 56.6 cents for every dollar a man earned. Some sociologists argue that the wage gap has narrowed sheet not because women’s earning power has improved but because men’s has worsened.
(Bianchi) - less educated women improved their earnings situation vis-à-vis men, not only because the increased the amount of time they allocated to market work but also because men’s wages were not rising.
Why does the American wage gap continue to exist? Some economists and policy markers argue that the wage gap is an institutional by-product of men’s generally higher levels of work experience, training, and education. The U.S. Bureau of the Census, however, reports that gender differences in education, labor force experience, and seniority - factors that might justify discrepancies in salary - account for less than 15% of the wage gap between men and women.
In fact, women with a bachelor’s degree can expect to earn about the same as men with only a high school diploma (median annual income of $26,841 for college-educated women compared to $26,333 for high school-educated men) 1997
A more likely reason for the wage gap is the types of jobs women typically have. This is called Job Segregation - The majority of employed women work in jobs, such as nursing, social work and teaching that are extensions of their traditional family roles.
Five most female jobs (that is those more than 96% female) of secretary, receptionist, licensed practical nurse, private household worker and child care worker- the average weekly salary is 219 compared to the five "most male" job positions of airplane pilot, construction, workers, truck driver, firefighter, and miner is $506.
Gender-based expectations can play a decisive role in hiring and promotion decisions. In addition, research consistently shows that mothers earn lower wages than women without children do. This "wage penalty doesn’t disappear even when different levels of work experience are taken into consideration. Not surprisingly about 90% of male executives but only 35% of females executives have children by the time they turn 40.
The Guilt Gap –
Because of the lingering notion of separate spheres, men have historically been able to feel they are fulfilling their family obligations by simply being financial providers. Women’s employment is usually perceived as optional or more seriously, potentially damaging to family life.
Despite these concerns, research shows that wives’ and mothers’ employment actually has very little negative impact on their family’s well being. Greenstein, 1995
Women worry; men, on the other hand, rarely spend, as much time worrying about the effect their work will have on their children as mothers do. This gender difference in worrying is referred to by some as the guilt gap.
Many employed mothers feel guilty - many stay-at-home mothers feel isolated and invisible to the larger society.
Separate spheres for working men. Men are expected to attach primary importance to their careers. In fact, evidence suggests that fathers who are freed of the burden of family obligations –that is, whose wives stay home to take care of the house and children – actually earn 20 percent more and get higher raises than fathers whose wives work. The reasons for this difference are debatable. Is it because men are freed up to pursue their careers with their full attention and energy? Others argue that stay at home wives are just a reflection that these men make more money. Still others that there is a sort of “daddy penalty” a work – that employers are prejudiced against men with “nontraditional,” working wives.
Solutions to the Work/Family Dilemma
Societal Solutions: Family and Medical Leave Act 1993 up to 12 weeks unpaid sick leave - Several restrictions - for example have had to work continuously for at least 1 year and who work at least 25 hours a week. Have more than 50 workers; can deny to any employee in the highest paid 10 percent - if it would create "substantial and grievous injury".
Between 1994 and 1995 less than 4 percent took leave
By comparison other industrialized nations
Germany and Japan guarantee a minimum of 3 months paid family leave
Canada 41 week off and be paid 60 percent of their salary for 15 of those weeks.
Sweden - 8 weeks full paid leave before the birth
Up to 9 months after child is born which drawing 90% of his or her salary.
However, decisions are made at the individual family level. "The Mommy Track" - Shared work arrangements, part-time positions, reduced workloads, temporary positions, flextime, irregular shifts or jobs that can be performed from home.
However, these "irregular" jobs are not without problems. Tend to be more insecure. They tend to be paid less and lack the benefits that typically accompany full-time, regular employment.
Women in "Mommy track" positions are often are regarded as less committed to the profession and therefore are excluded from opportunities that might lead to monetary rewards and promotions.
The dual-earner family is now the single most common American family type.
Many couples find they must make career tradeoffs to try to balance their work and family lives. 6,000 employee study in chemical company 47% women and 41% men had told their supervisors they would not be available for relocation; 32 percent of the women and 19% of the men told their bosses they wouldn’t take a job that required extensive traveling; 7% of women and 11% of men turned down a promotion.
Some experts feel that the single most important step our society could take to help dual-earner families would be to help them deal with child are demands.
Dual –Career Couples – Couples not only are both partners employed; they are both professionals, committed to their careers. Labor market trends have made them advocates of gender equality, even if they weren’t initially supporters of these cause.
These individuals, are for the most part, economic equals? Balance of equality is always a struggle. This balance is dependent upon the availability of careers in the labor market, people to help with housework and child care, and the ability of couple to adapt to competing employer demands.
Dual-earner Couples – Ways to deal with the demands between family and work:
Shift work –Among dual-earner couples in the US, approximately 1/3 consist of one spouse employed during the day and the other employed during the evening at night or on some form of rotating schedule.
The perception of shift work can vary along class lines. Young, middle-class couples might perceive it as an attractive alternative for the flexibility it offers. For working-class families, however, shift work is likely to be an arrangement over which workers have little control.
The Domestic Division of Labor: Housework and Child care
- Bianchi and Spain - despite their growing economic independence, however women continue to allocate less time to market work and more time to family than do men. Wives put in almost 900 fewer hours than husbands did. Most likely these disparities reflect the continuing differences in the domestic roles of men and women in the American family and economy.
Women have scaled down their hours of housework - from about 30 hours in 1965 to about 20 hours in 1985.
Men’s involvement in family work (defined here as doing household chores, caring for children, tending to others’ emotional needs, keeping up relationships with kin, and so on) has not kept pace with women’s increasing commitment to paid employment.
Hochschild "The Stalled Revolution."
Many conflict sociologist explain this sort of lingering bias as a by-product of patriarchy and our capitalist economic systems (Zoe Baird and Kimba Wood - failed candidates for the first female Attorney General)
Their childcare arrangements were scrutinized.
"Women’s Work" - use value no exchange value. Work within the home has use value; it no longer has exchange value.
Housework is seen as “Women’s Work” Men contribute by “helping.” There is a distinction between “helping.”
On the average, men are responsible for between 20 and 35% of the domestic work. (1996). The average American wife puts in about 15 hours more each week than her husband on all types of work - paid and unpaid.
Men’s work typically infrequent, irregular or optional.
The gender discrepancy in household responsibilities does not diminish all that much as a result of women’s full-time employment.
Several national studies have found that, on average, employed women spend over 33 hours a week on housework, compared to 18 hours a week for husbands.
African-American men contribute more to domestic labor than do Asian, white or Hispanic men. African-American men employed full-time may actually spend more time doing household labor than unemployed black men, indicating that wen men are attached to the provider role they are also committed to their family obligations.
Social class appears to have little impact on the gender-based division of domestic labor.
However, men’s economic standing relative to their spouse’s does have an effect. When men earn more than their wives do, the fulfillment of traditional gender roles fits well with the exchange of resources: his financial support for her domestic services.
But when women earn more, couples sometimes resort to a traditional division of family power in order to reinforce the gender differences that could be undermined by the switching of traditional economic roles.
To avoid their threatened masculinity men who earn less than their wives may try to avoid "feminine" household chores.
For those couples who do share household task, imbalances still exist. For instance, the arrival of children often signals a return to a more traditional division of household labor. In fact, employed men may actually increase their time at work upon becoming parents while women significantly decrease theirs. (Shelton)
Perceptions of Inequity - Objective inequality in domestic responsibilities is less important than the perception of inequity and unfairness.
What’s striking is that relatively few wives (estimates range from one-third to one-fourth) regard the unequal division of labor as unfair. - white, African-American and Hispanic women.
Research indicates that men and women in general agree that wives should do about twice as much family work as husbands do. -
Gender Ideology and Family Work - Some people do feel an unbalance household division of labor is unfair to women. But under what circumstances do these perceptions arise? Husbands with egalitarian gender ideologies tend to see the typically gender-based division of family work responsibilities as more unfair to their wives than husbands with traditional ideologies, even though there’s no evidence that egalitarian husbands are particularly motivated to increase their contribution to domestic labor.
If a wife truly believes that married women - no matter what their employment status - are supposed to do most of the housework, she will probably view inequalities as legitimate and not seem them as unjust.
Social Exchange and Household Inequity - Social exchange theory proposes that power and dependency influence how people assess fairness, and that power depends on individual resources such as income. Perceptions of fairness may depend on comparisons of one's status with that of others. A sense of relative deprivation is more likely to occur when peers perceive differential treatment than when actual deprivation occurs. If women and men compare their division of labor with that of other couples, and conclude that their sp9ouse does at least as much domestic work as other spouse, they do not perceive their own division of labor as unfair. A sense of equity may result more from a husband's increased efforts in the household than a wife's reduced efforts. A husband can be doing fewer hours of household work than the wife, but if his efforts are increasing over time, more fairness is perceived. The women who have fewer alternatives to marriage and fewer available economic resources are more likely to view an unequal division of family work as fair. If wives have low wages and sense a high risk of divorce in their marriages they may lower their expectations and feel grateful for whatever household chores their husbands do. On the other hand, women who are self-sufficient and who perceive available alternatives to their marriage are less dependent on their souses and are less fearful of divorce. Hence, they are more likely to view unequal family work as unfair.
Gender differences in comparison standards - wives compare themselves to other wives and say hey I’m not doing so badly. Husbands compare themselves to other husbands and say , I’m doing more.
Social Norms - norms about the priority of motherhood and homemaker roles for women or breadwinner roles for men can be deeply ingrained.
Perceived availability and attractiveness of alternative arrangements - If a working wife with a heavy load of housework compares her situation to the alternative of not being employed she may conclude that things aren’t so bad after all.
Another explanation for women's perceptions of fairness in the face of inequality arises from gender ideology. Some women believe they should not most the housework regardless of their employment status.
Finally the possibility exists that women actually have a higher tolerance for housework than men or that women's standards of cleanliness are higher than men's. this may be the result of differential gender socialization, which raise girls to understand that they will be the keeper of house and kin as adults. To the extent that women view housework as their job or that they want certain standards maintained, they may rationally decide that it is better not to concern themselves too much with the fairness issue. They reduce dissonance and conflict and achieve their goals, albeit at considerable cost of time overload.
All this can become self-fulfilling. The greater a woman's commitment of time and energy to unpaid household work, the less her available time and energy for paid work. This can perpetuate the unequal earnings of women and men and ensure women's economic dependency on men with marriage. This earnings inequity also assures more adverse economic consequences for women than men when marriages end.
The couples may then manufacture equity (Arlie Russell Hochschild) She does the inside housework; he does the outside work.
Bianchi uses Festinger’s psychological theory of cognitive dissonance - suggests that most people perceive their lives to be fair because of the need to reconcile expectations with reality.
If women were to dwell on the unfairness of their contribution to their household’s workload, other valuable aspects of their life (for example, their psychological health or their marriage) might be threatened. They resolve the discrepancy by adjusting their expectations about the division of labor in their homes.