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Nathan Hutchings 2011

Globalisation and Gender, trends in the global workplace and the effect on dual income working families

Nathan Hutchings


Nathan Hutchings 2011 The world of work stretches and interconnects with global flows of capital, labour and information communication technology networks (Hutton & Giddens, 2000; Limerick, Cunnington & Crowther, 2002; xplanevisualthinking, 2007). The ability to transverse the globe via international flights is within the reach of more people than ever before and the cost relative to other forms of international transport have decreased over the past forty years (Burton & Pels, 2010; Hummel, 1999; Lee, 2003). The exponential development of information communication technologies have according to Limerick, Cunnington and Crowther (2002) changed the shape and form of organisations, types of employment, and what it means to be an employee in the 21st Century (De-Botton, 2009). In particular, Colteryahn and Davis (2004) report that technological advances are affecting the way that work is done and how, when, and where learning occurs (p.32). Additionally, Bell (2009) reports that jobs are increasingly advertised online, viewable on a global scale and consequently in a global labor market, pay levels will equilibrate. (Colvin, 2004, p.26). Furthermore, in the Western world previously secure jobs such as manufacturing and more recently IT help desk support and service jobs, have been outsourced and exported overseas and if they have not already they will be in the near future (Hutton & Giddens, 2000, Colvin, 2004; Colteryahn & Davis, 2004; Helyar, 2005). Finally, recent global financial uncertainty and crisis have added to the maelstrom of change and uncertainty, especially in America the European Union and Britain (Pendery, 2009; Wolf, 2009). Globalisation, change and uncertainty are now a fact of life not just a concept talked about by sociologist and cultural theorists.

Global trends such as transnational markets in capital, labour and knowledge create tensions and disadvantage not only for poor migrant and third world workers

Nathan Hutchings 2011 but also for dual income working families. Klien (2001) has highlighted the plight of third world sweat shop workers employed by multinational brands that clothe the urban middle class. Lytoard (1984) detailed the comodification effect of computer networks on knowledge and heralded the death of the grand narrative, paradoxically at the time of the emergence of Globalisation which Raina (2003) and Linklater (2009) argued is a grand narrative and far from dead. Hutton & Giddens (2000) discussed the interconnection of global markets in labour, finance, information and knowledge and Colvin (2004) reported that it is only a matter of time before many white collar professional jobs performed in industrial Western nations are performed by increasingly well educated Chinese or Indians graduates (xplanevisualthinking, 2007). Dual income working families do not suffer the levels of economic deprivation of Kliens (2001) sweat shop workers or the emotional pain of Hochschilds (2000) Pilipino mothers working as domestic servants. However, the domestic sphere like the world of work is also effected by issues such as economic uncertainty, work intensification, demands of continual professional studies and the difficulties of balancing all these pressures while raising a family (Duxbury, Lyons & Higgins, 2007; Elloy & Smith, 2003; Emslie & Hunt, 2009).

In addition to Globalisation the other key trend that has affected dual income working families is the dramatic change in the characteristics of labour force. Elloy and Smith (2003) report that the increase in womens participation in the work force has occurred in tandem with the decrease in mens participation; however, the increased participation by women in the work place has not occurred with an equal reduction in societies expectations of women as mothers. Furthermore, Maume, Sebastian and Bardo (2010) more recently recount that men have only marginally

Nathan Hutchings 2011 increased their participation in housework and childcare duties and Emslie and Hunts (2009) report that many contemporary studies of work and home life either ignore gender or take it for granted (p. 152). The multifarious issues and trends that result from Globalisation and the changing characteristics of the workforce have blurred the lines between the domestic and work sphere. The traditional family consisting of one usually male full time worker is no longer the norm and dual income families are working harder and longer hours (Colteryahn & Davis, 2004; Elloy & Smith, 2003; Emslie & Hunts, 2009).

The disadvantage suffered by individuals and families in third world countries in addition to the unemployed, socially and economically marginalized within the wealthier Western nations is starkly obvious when compared to dual income working families. However, such comparisons do not bring to light the lived experience of the nexus between work and home for dual income working families which Emslie and Hunt (2009) report have been subjected to relatively few qualitative studies. Despite the gains working women have made for equal pay and opportunities in the work place true pay parity is still yet to be achieved. As recently as 2007 Blau and Kahn (2007) reported that the gender pay gap has not closed fully and appears to have stalled for reasons of residual discrimination in the work place. Economic disadvantage is still gendered; hegemonic beliefs that women are a familys primary care giver and domestic worker prevail; gender inequality is embedded not only in personal identities but also in interpersonal interactions, being accountable to others, and institutional practices means that in most of social life, men and women do gender in conforming to hegemonic

Nathan Hutchings 2011 beliefs about the proper display of gender, perhaps even when as individuals they identify with gender egalitarianism. (Maume, Sebastian, & Bardo, 2010, p. 748) So despite an individuals belief about gender equality and the division of work in the domestic sphere they are expected to enact social roles and norms that work against their gender egalitarian ideals. The father who leaves work early to look after a sick child is seen as the good father in contrast the professional woman is asked whether their husband can care for the child, women are in a double bind as conflicting messages of motherhood and work place equality negate displays of gender within dominant gendered hegemonic discourses.

However, these inequalities are not experienced equally across socio-economic strata. The experience for working class families in contrast to middle and professional career dual income families is significant. Working class families are more vulnerable to the forces of globalization specifically the relocation of industrial manufacturing overseas ; however, middle class families are no longer immune to these trends according to Colvin (2004), Helyar (2005), Richman and Schiff (1995). In addition, Maume, Sebastian, and Bardo (2010) reported that working class couples had a higher rate of one partner working night or split shifts in order to share childcare duties. But the reasons for one partner to undertake shift work were largely economic rather than an egalitarian view of domestic and childcare duties. Despite the economic differences between working and middle class dual income families Maume, Sebastian, and Bardo (2010) found that the previously held belief that middle class males are more egalitarian is fallacious. Maume, Sebastian, and Bardo (2010) found that mens sleep patterns where privileged over womens especially in cases of waking in the night to attend to children or sick family members. However,

Nathan Hutchings 2011 womens marital power increases with their ability to earn higher wages than their partner, but this power is more effective at negotiating the sharing of domestic duties rather than sleep patterns (Maume, Sebastian & Bardo, 2010).

The work of Maume, Sebastian & Bardo, (2010) provides insight into the interplay of economic status and gender in the allocation of domestic and childcare duties. Furthermore, these insights provide a precursor to the work of Duxbury, Lyons and Higgins (2007) which argues that the idea that the existing topology of dual income working families is not adequate enough to describe the diversity of dual income families. By expanding the topology greater insight can be gained into the lived experience of the nexus between work and home for dual income working families. Duxbury, Lyons and Higgins (2007) postulated that dual income working families can be categorized by taking into account three factors; gender, the occupational status of the male and the occupational status of the female. These three factors yield four main dual income family formations; (1) dual career couples, both work in a professional or managerial capacity; (2) dual earner couples, both work in semi- skilled or skilled service industries; (3) status-reversal couples, where the male is working in a semi-skilled or service industry and the female is employed in a professional or managerial capacity (Duxbury, Lyons & Higgins, 2007). This topology provides greater descriptive power than Maume, Sebastian & Bardo, (2010) but it does lack greater insight into how couples individually and together negotiate their work and home identities and how this impacts on their sense of self.

Bird and Schnurman-Crook (2005) provide a perspective that highlights the importance that individuals place on their identity as a professional, a partner and

Nathan Hutchings 2011 member of a family. In addition, De-Bottons (2009) recent book provides a variety of vignettes about how individual identity and ones life narrative is inexorably linked to career choice. For Bird and Schnurman-Crook (2005) stress at home and work can be explained by how demands from the work and domestic sphere reinforce or threaten an individuals sense of identity; unlike, Elloy & Smith (2003) who view the origin of work place stress being divided loyalties between work and home. A synthesis of Duxbury, Lyons and Higgins (2007) topology, Bird and SchnurmanCrooks (2005) formulation of identity theory within the context of the workplace and the economic reality of overwork and displays of gender within dominant gendered hegemonic discourses provide a rich qualitative field of enquiry (Ellroy & Smith, 2003). This synthesis would provide a platform from which to answer Emslie and Hunts (2009) criticism that there has been few qualitative studies into the lived experience of the nexus between work and home for dual income working families.

Support for dual income working families can take the form of more flexible work arrangements to meet the needs of parents who have to drop off and pick up children at school and provide care to family members in times of illness. Wetlessen (2010) reports that despite public policy that assumes that many parents both work full time hours of work have remained unchanged for decades. While many employers enable workers to take leave for family matters this is usually taken from existing leave entitlements and not an additional allocation; Colteryahn and Davis (2004) report that people are willing to exchange money for time so a solution maybe to provide opportunities for staff to purchase in advance additional leave entitlements. The provision of paid maternity and paternity leave will further support working families and reduce the pressure of returning to work soon after childbirth

Nathan Hutchings 2011 and give fathers the ability to actively participate in their childs early development (Grille, 2005). Unfortunately for career women the workplace is not sympathetic towards married women and married women who have families; therefore, calls for paid maternity and paternity leave have largely gone unheard (Burke, 1999; White, 2009). The differing topologies of dual income working families place new demands on todays organizations. Demands that if are not meet could result in placing undue pressure on employees and their families. If workplaces do not adapt to support the needs of dual income working families they will face increased hiring and training costs as these employees move on to find more supportive environments. It is time for workplaces to realize fully that the workplace and home environment are inexorably linked and the idea that they are two separate worlds is a myth (Elloy & Smith, 2003). Grille (2005) describes the family and parenting as the crucible in which a society and a nations future is forged. But it is the workplace were human labor and creativity merge to create prosperity. Therefore, employers who create workplaces that are family friendly, flexible and supportive of employees sense of professional identity will create an environment that is well placed to meet the challenges of Globalisation and importantly be places that people feel happy, productive and valued.

Nathan Hutchings 2011

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