Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN14_07: Restructuring Labour Markets and Welfare States for Gender Equality
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Eve Ewington, Lancaster University
Location: UP.4.211
University of Manchester Building: University Place, Fourth Floor Oxford Road

Session Abstract

How turning points over women's life course become significant for gender equality.

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Hegemonic Coupling Theory: Parsing Out Gender and Labor Biases to Better Analyze Stalled Progress

Erik Lawrence Bond

Miyazaki International College, Japan

This project starts with the problem of the two-decade stall in the developed world’s gender revolution. I apply Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) techniques to data from highly developed labor markets to advance both theoretical and quantitative modeling of refractory or “sticky” gender biases. I begin by quantitatively validating a novel dimension of bias hypothesized to exist at the intersection of gender and labor stereotypes. Using data from 29 OECD countries (N = 37,632) in the 2012 wave of the International Social Survey Programme, this work then asks, “How does modeling this novel dimension of bias enhance our understandings of refractory gender-labor biases?” Much research in this area treats liberal ideologies as a largely homogenous value set described as “Egalitarian,” “Feminist,” “Progressive,” etc., and juxtaposed with a uniformly oppositional “Conservative” or “Traditional” value set. However, my project demonstrates that these umbrellas actually constitute heterogeneous sets of values that may vary widely in representation and configuration. I show that the novel attitudinal dimension constructed here varies significantly across national welfare regime, sex, labor status, and other criteria. I put forth a new theoretical framework—dubbed “Hegemonic Coupling Theory” (HCT)—which asserts that intersections of hegemonic statuses (such as masculinity and paid employment) reinforce and sustain biases independently of biases unique to either component status. I conclude with policy recommendations aimed toward capitalizing on these insights.

Measuring Gender Equality: Bringing Social Reproduction Back On A Par With Economic Production

Caitlin Schmid

University of Manchester, United Kingdom

Feminist literature has long recognised the gendered division of labour as central to perpetuating gender inequality. Yet, gender equality indices continue to predominantly measure disparities within economic production while neglecting social reproduction. This paper offers an alternative conceptualisation for the measurement of gender equality in Europe, by taking account of social reproduction, giving equal emphasis to the gendered division of eldercare, childcare and housework. Expanding the measurement in this way better captures the multifaceted nature of gender inequality and provides a more comprehensive basis for European policy developments in which unpaid reproductive labour is recognised as the precondition of all economic production.

The transition to post-industrial capitalism has seen an intensification of academic and policy debate on the potential for family models and welfare state regimes to reorganise economic production and social reproduction. Diverging opinions on which family model should be taken forward are rooted in contrasting conceptions of what gender equality constitutes and how to best bring it about. A strong case was made for the ‘transformative approach’, as it promises to deconstruct the gendered order itself, rather than policies ameliorating its consequences. It holds the potential of restructuring productive and reproductive institutions to dismantle the gendered division of labour. Despite this contribution, research measuring gender equality levels across countries has mainly focused on economic production (e.g. gender wage gaps, employment gaps). Only two out of 10+ indices include indicators of reproduction, yet do not conceptualise care or housework as labour but as activities alongside social or leisure activities.

Women’s Progression In Medical Careers Parallel Worsening Work Conditions. A Case of Gender Paradox? Findings from Italy.

Camilla Gaiaschi

University of Milan, Italy

This paper investigates women’s under-representation in senior positions among physicians. The analysis are based on a dataset of a thousand doctors in Italy working in five hospitals. Information were collected through an online survey with 49% response rate. The research shows that women’s adjusted odds of promotion from the first to the intermediate level of the career ladder are 41% smaller than men’s. No disadvantage is found from the intermediate to the final rank, suggesting that the vertical segregation is due more to a sticky floors mechanism than to a glass ceiling effect. Younger physicians experience no female disadvantage. Having children does not carry a penalty for women while a paternity premium persists. This study points out that positive changes towards equality are occurring. Nevertheless, two main aspects should be considered. First, the closing of the gap is largely due to women’s different strategies to reduce the motherhood penalty, that is by not having children (for 39% of women surveyed), by anticipating childbirth during the specialty school (for the youngest cohorts), by reducing the leave (in private hospitals) and by outsourcing domestic work. However, if women have strived to reduce gender differences by becoming “more like men”, men don’t seem to have become “more like women”, given that the sexual division of work remains strong. The second aspect sheds light on the existence of a paradox: no penalty persists in the youngest – most precarious – cohorts. No penalty persists in private hospitals, where atypical contracts make the rule. Where work conditions worsen and welfare benefits are low, women’s disadvantages decrease. These findings call for the existence of a trade-off between gender and social equality.

Becoming Men and Woman in Precarious Conditions of Young Adults in Poland

Agata Krasowska, Aleksandra Drabina-Różewicz

University of Wroclaw, Poland

The paper is an attempt to capture the issues of establishing gender identity in the face of precarious work and life experiences of young workers in Poland. We will try to analyze the life experiences related to becoming a woman and a man in precarious conditions in the context of emerging adulthood (Arnett, 2000). Our analysis will focus on the cases from the basis of 63 narrative biographical interviews (PREWORK project).

Using the biographical analytical paths indicated by F. Schuetze (2012) and the assumptions of the methodology of the grounded theory, we will try to highlight ways of shaping and strengthening the socio-cultural dimensions of gender identity in the biographies. We will try to show the dimensions of the biographical entanglement of the experience of precarity in the period of early adulthood. This stage in life is the richest in changes and breakthroughs and it covers the age between 18 to 30 years old, which constitutes the framework of our research sample. We also want to reconstruct the process structures of the biography, revealing the areas of biographical work (Schuetze, 2012). In the analysis, we intend to refer also to theoretically and empirically developed conceptions that are part of the sociological discourse and research field focused on the topic of emerging adulthood in precarious conditions, such as: delayed adulthood syndrome, postponing social roles of adults, nesting at the family home. In case of gender relations we also want to capture social processes, discussed in the research field, such as: the relationship between productive and reproductive work, the division of roles in the household and the creating of a work-life balance between private life and professional work.

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