Flexible Work and Gender Inequities in Work and Care – Let’s Fix the Incentives!

As Australian society shifts towards a service driven economy, the nature of work is changing, and with it, the balance of work and family life.

Our late modern economy is characterised by more targeted consumption of niche (rather than standardized mass produced) goods, and consequently by more flexible production. Workers, contractors and entrepreneurs are moving away from the 9 to 5, 5 day week routine towards more casual, part-time, contract work at all hours in a 24-7 economy. And they are producing these services in increasingly de-centralised workplaces, working in cafes rather than offices, and working from home in greater numbers than ever before. All of this is, of course, facilitated by the rise of the digital economy and online social networking, blurring the boundaries between private friendship and public business in a way that would put Amway to shame! There has seemingly never been a better, and easier time to start a business and work for ourselves, and the flexibility inherent in such arrangements should enable workers to better balance work and family life.

However, there is conjecture and evidence that structuring our modern working lives this way is having a severe impact on our family lives and connections. It is important to acknowledge that the ‘flexibility’ in our arrangements is often imposed upon us by bosses and the market, rather than chosen by us in a way that suits us and our family lives. Richard Sennett argues that work today is increasingly temporary and fractious, requiring that we commute to a multiplicity of locations (local, metropolitan, interstate, international), work all sorts of hours (including shiftwork), and live with an increasing precarity that disrupts our family lives and relationships.

The impacts of these changes fall disproportionately upon women. Women’s increasing movement into the workforce – rightly celebrated as emancipatory – has now become a necessity to pay the exorbitant cost of skyrocketing mortgages and rents in the never-ending Australian house price boom. Women are more likely to work multiple jobs, single mothers are moving into work in ever-greater number (thanks to recent changes in welfare payments), and yet they are still under-represented in senior business and management roles and suffer a gender wage gap of approximately $27,000 a year.

In tandem with these inequities, the greater burden of unpaid work and childcare still falls on women. Women spend more hours working in every type of unpaid labour than men (except for gardening and outdoor tasks), and do more unpaid work even when they are the main breadwinner in a household.

These trends suggest that while a more flexible economy and work practices open up new opportunities for business and friendly working arrangement, there is need to redress structural problems that make these arrangements work against – rather than for – many of us. Addressing gender inequities in paid and unpaid work is paramount, and this involves not only a culture shift amongst men, but removing the incentives to keep men in paid work to a greater degree than women – close the Gender Wage Gap, and improve the system of paid parental leave to encourage equal take-up by men. As a start – let’s fix the incentives!

#S208UOW17 #Tut6

Posted in SOC208 - Cities, Communities and Families, Uncategorized, UOW.

29 Comments

  1. Policies need to be looked at in regards to closing this gender wage gap and imbalance in paid and unpaid work between couples. In the lecture this week we were shown the Australian Maternity and Paternity Leave Schemes, which increases the problem, as fathers only get 2 weeks paid leave at the national minimum wage and the other option is parental leave allowing 18 weeks paid leave at the national minimum wage. So it would be more appealing for the man to keep working as he’s usually making more money than the female, and so the female would take all the parental leave to be with the children. As Cooke & Baxter (2010), explain to support full employment, policies in Denmark, Finland, and Sweden developed a more egalitarian dual-earner model to tackle this issue, with benefits such as high quality public child care through the national education systems and supports a flexible work like balance. This model attempts to support social and economic arrangement where men and women engage in both paid work in the labour market and in unpaid work in the home. Gornick & Meyer (2001) explored this model and explains the three areas in which this policy can support families. The first way includes a family leave scheme that ensures job protection and wage replacement for parents. The second is affordable and accessible child care and the third is market regulations aimed at shortening work weeks or hours worked daily. This may not fix the problem immediately, but implemented policies like this can start the ball rolling for the change we need in our society.

    Gornick, J.C. and Meyers, M., 2001. Building the Dual Earner/dual Career Society: Policy Developments in Europe. Harvard University, Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies.

    • I agree with your point and Roger’s about reviewing policies in regarding paid parental leave completely. Bianchi & Milkie (2010) explore this idea of gender division, identifying the ‘doing gender’ perspective that defined masculinity with the role of the economic provider (as well as resistance to ‘feminine’ tasks).

      A study by the Pew Research Centre (http://pewrsr.ch/2delVjy) further emphasises the inequalities in paid parental leave that emphasises the gender division and ‘doing gender’ that needs to be addressed – “In 19 of 41 countries, the majority of all paid leave available is allocated for maternity leave. In fact, in six countries – Cyprus, Israel, Turkey, Ireland, Switzerland and New Zealand – maternity leave accounts for all available paid leave related to the birth or care of a child. No leave is available for new fathers”.

      • #S208UOW17 #Tut6 #Mon1130

        I agree with your point about policies to the gender pay gap.. There is such a divide and even though there are being changes made, they still do not seem to be making progress within the nation.

    • I’m blogging during my fortnightly ‘work from home’ day in a role within the social service industry, which as it turns out, is right on trend. I’m an underpaid, single mother stereotype, and regardless of my education, hard work and commitment to social justice, I am still subjected to disadvantage via the gender wage gap and carer responsibilities within my immediate and extended family. Despite an underlying, yet ever present feeling of isolation as I sit here and attempt to hammer out the ever-increasing workload, it turns out I’m doing life the same way the majority are. Thanks to the digital age, we are now more accessible and able to work 24 hours per day 7 days per week. Even the concept of blogging and tweeting to communicate and interact with classmates, lecturers and tutors embed the digital world into our culture, creating flexibility and access at the same time diminishing personal connections and human interaction. I had to smile at Rogers sentiments regarding the blurred boundaries between private friendships and public business putting Amway, a multi-level marketing model, to shame. I would argue that Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, which are now common practice marketing tools for any current service/business/organisation, though initially purposed to create a more socially connected community, don’t just blur the boundaries between public and private, rather decimate them. Although the flexibility should offer workers a better balance between work and family life, the lack of boundaries within the digital age have created challenges in segregating the two.
      What stood out to me, in this weeks reading (Bianchi & Milkie, 2010) was the work-family stressors and mental health research in relation to time pressures people experience. These “time pressures and deficits” due to work commitments and family obligations have been linked to depression and other mental health disorders, further highlighting the manner in which the 24/7 access and digital age impact on work/family balance. Furthermore, yet not discussed in this weeks readings, is the ever rising concern of technology addiction and the anti-social behaviours this fuels, with mental health issues growing more complex in an increasingly younger demographic. This presents the question- Do we really have enough understanding of the impact the digital age has in shaping our families and how do we regain balance?
      #S208UOW17 #TUT6 #MON1130

  2. It definitely has become more noticeable in current society that gender inequity is quite clearly an ongoing problem. While women are able to move onto the workforce, their range of job choices and opportunities are significantly poorer than that of a man’s. Partly due to the fact that women still do much of the child-rearing and unpaid labour in a family while the “glass-ceiling” still exists in business for women today where much of their work opportunities come in the form of labour/care/hospitality. It will be interesting to see how the continued break away from gender roles and advancement in technology will affect the gender inequity and hopefully being to break that ceiling.

    • Whilst I agree with most aspects of your statement is it important to consider both sides of an argument, interestingly enough in a contemporary society where we are more tolerant and equal than in previous years, their are certain fields in the workplace that segregate men and women, such as men study and work in the sciences and manual labour in a majority, just like how women dominate fields such as nursing, beauty and as you stated caring and hospitality roles etc, Do you perceive this as an issue of the ever imposing gender roles or consider this to just be a natural phenomenon of selection? #S208UOW17 #Tut6 #mon430

  3. The 21st Century has led to some changes in work and family structure but there is still work to be done for it to be considered equal. There is also the issues of increasing work demands alongside increasing parental demands that are making it harder and harder on families. The challenges that come from work and family apply to all kinds of families. Families with two parents who both work are one of the more popular types of families and thus the struggles they face with work and family are more prominent. However there are other types of families that still face this work and family struggle, and may even struggle with it more. These other types of families include, single parents, step parents and same-sex couples.
    The topics that are important within the subject of work and families are “gender, time and the division of labour in the home; paid work: too much or too little? Maternal employment and child outcomes; work-family conflict; work, family, stress, and wealth; and work-family policy” (Bianchi and Milkie, 2010, p. 706). There is an increasing diversity within work and families as well as there being problems with women who are married and women who have children finding work. As mentioned above, other varieties of families are increasing or moving more into the public sphere. Workplaces are changing with increasing flexibility, which is helpful as there are more and more demands on our time, however it has led to an increase of crossover between work and family. There is also changes in the racial and ethnic diversity of families and workplaces. Gender gaps in work and family are becoming narrower but it is still there and changes still need to be made.
    Bianchi, SM and Milkie, MA 2010, ‘Work and Family Research in the First Decade of the 21st Century’, Journal of Marriage and Family, Vol. 72, No. 3, pp. 705-725.
    #S208UOW17 #Tut6 #Mon1130

    • #S208UOW17 #Tut6 #Mon1130

      These are definitely important topics to consider, there is certiantly a lot of work to do!

    • I agree with this statement surrounding those families sitting on the outer circle of society; single, step and same-sex parents, and the inequalities in which they still face within the workforce and the stigma surrounding their family structures. It has been found that communities with greater inequality present statistically higher rates of single parenthood and step parents (Sufi, 2014). Why is this so? What is being done about it?

      As discussed by Roger Patulny, policies should be reviewed regarding paid parental leave, as this act only increases the issue of gender inequalities within the workforce, which then has repercussions onto family life. Through the discussion presented by academics Bianchi & Milkie (2010), they acknowledge this issue of gender specialised work (women partaking in unpaid house work and the man spending more of his time at the office). They further conclude that the need for policies to readdress their integration of work and family life strategies is crucial in order to assist in the push for equality within families and the marketplace.

    • There is a large issue with the gender wage gap in Australian society. With the changing way in which the economy has evolved over the decades, ‘work’ has moved from a manufacturing economy to a service based economy. This change within the working lifestyle ultimately has a domino effect upon the balance between work and family, sometimes causing a downward spiral.
      Bianchi (2010) stated that this diverse change in the economy, with a rapid increase in 24/7 workplaces has led to an increased flexibility in the workforce. This again influences the work and family balance of when and where work can be undertaken (Bianchi 2010). Sennett (1998) argued that due this increase in the workforce flexibility increases in casual, part-time & shift work leads to an increase in disconnection with work and family.
      Increasing levels of women entering into the workforce is greater now than what it has ever been. Cootz (2000) stated that the loss in single women in the workforce allowed for a change in employment with companies changing their attitudes and beliefs by hiring more mothers and being more allowing of flexible work to suit different peoples. As seen in last weeks lecture, though there has been an increase in women working there is a considerable difference in gender wage gaps, with a difference of $27 000 annually.
      Cootz (2000) stated that women have made greater employment gains, however still not to the same extent of men. As found by the AMP (2010) men are more likely to stay within the workforce continuously, meaning they have less breaks, they often work greater hours, have more opportunities of promotion and have greater superannuation.
      Greater emphasis needs to be used in order to close the gender wage gap and create greater equality for all.

      #S208UOW17 #Tut6 #Mon1630

    • Gender divisions are still seen nowadays and the gender gap still exists. Gendered work still continues as well as mentioned above with children funding, only makes work a lot harder and strenuous. The ideal of the nuclear family is starting to fade away however it is not extinct just quite yet. Are we still in fact as a society not ready to give up this idea of the nuclear family? Or is it still to this day a significant part of our societies makeup and foundations?

      #S208UOW17 #Tut6 #Wed1430

  4. Although there have been steps to improve gender equality and reduce gender stereotypes within Australia, we are still facing a large inequalities especially in relation to pay gaps. In Australia the pay gap between men and women is 16%, this is a dollar value of $261.31 per week.

    When we look at this over the course of a year ($261.31 / 52) women are being underpaid $13,588.12 on average per year.We need to consider that even when women are working, they still do the majority of the unpaid work in the household and child care also.

    https://www.wgea.gov.au/sites/default/files/gender-pay-gap-statistics.pdf

    #S208UOW17 #Tut6 #Mon1130

    • Yes you are definitely right Emily! Why do you think though that there is such a major gap in the pay between men and women? Women have the same qualities that it takes to do any job, so why such a big difference? Are we still focusing on a male dominated society where patriarchy rules all? Some interesting points to think about…
      #S208UOW17 #Tut6 #Mon1130

  5. There have been considerable changes in the working dynamics. Not only regarding moving away from standard 9-5 jobs, every weekday, but also regarding equalities (and more so the inequalities) in the work forces regarding women. Although Suzanne M (et al) states that during 2000-2010 saw a decrease in the gender gap of paid and unpaid work (cooking, cleaning, and childcare etc.) with women spending less time in these activities; studies also show how there are still inequalities regarding work life. Women still spend significant amounts of time in unpaid work, and are underrepresented in work life and still have a significant gap in gender wage (As Roger stated; $27,000).
    #S208UOW17 #Tut6 #Mon1130

  6. There is a large issue with the gender wage gap in Australian society. With the changing way in which the economy has evolved over the decades, ‘work’ has moved from a manufacturing economy to a service based economy. This change within the working lifestyle ultimately has a domino effect upon the balance between work and family, sometimes causing a downward spiral.
    Bianchi (2010) stated that this diverse change in the economy, with a rapid increase in 24/7 workplaces has led to an increased flexibility in the workforce. This again influences the work and family balance of when and where work can be undertaken (Bianchi 2010). Sennett (1998) argued that due this increase in the workforce flexibility increases in casual, part-time & shift work leads to an increase in disconnection with work and family.
    Increasing levels of women entering into the workforce is greater now than what it has ever been. Cootz (2000) stated that the loss in single women in the workforce allowed for a change in employment with companies changing their attitudes and beliefs by hiring more mothers and being more allowing of flexible work to suit different peoples. As seen in last weeks lecture, though there has been an increase in women working there is a considerable difference in gender wage gaps, with a difference of $27 000 annually.
    Cootz (2000) stated that women have made greater employment gains, however still not to the same extent of men. As found by the AMP (2010) men are more likely to stay within the workforce continuously, meaning they have less breaks, they often work greater hours, have more opportunities of promotion and have greater superannuation.
    Greater emphasis needs to be used in order to close the gender wage gap and create greater equality for all.

    #S208UOW17 #Tut6 #Mon1630

  7. Gender stereotypes are highly evident still in career choices today. In 2014 a survey of over 700 people showed 84% of young people chose their career from stereotypical gender roles and as a result many people do not go into a career in something they are passionate about. In Australia women make up only 1.8% of trades and only 5% of childcare workers are men. It is gender stereotypes that need addressing in order to conquer this inequity in Australia.

    Also the gender pay gap in continually a problem within Australia, with women earning on average 26% less than a man at the same level as her. Due to this wage difference it is evident why it is the woman that takes maternity leave as her partner will on average earn more than what she will and be able to provide more for their family.

    Changes need to be made within Australia to make these large inequities less.

    #SOC208 #Mon1630

  8. In today’s society, the flexible economy has resulted in a noticeable change in gender inequality, however it still has a very long way to go. In the lecture, Roger discussed the Australian Maternity and parental leave policies which clearly indicate gender inequality is still evident in our society. Fathers only receive 2 weeks of paid parental leave, whereas mother recieves 18 weeks of leave in case of pregnancy. The father works because they tend to earn more, therefore able to support the family. In today’s society there are multiple different types of families, Howeever, al lace the same struggles with work and family as thermos an increased diversity in regards to family-work relationship and it is difficult to find a balance.
    #S208UOW17 #Mon1630

    • Rachel, in regards to your comment above – if gender equal pay already existed and longer paid parental leave was granted to fathers in Australia, do you feel there would be a better balance between men and women taking time away from paid work to care for children? Or are we as a society still so entrenched in old gender stereotypical roles, that we would still see mum’s taking more time away from work/careers to care for children?
      #S208UOW17 #Wed1430

  9. I’m blogging during my fortnightly ‘work from home’ day in a role within the social service industry, which as it turns out, is right on trend. I’m an underpaid, single mother stereotype, and regardless of my education, hard work and commitment to social justice, I am still subjected to disadvantage via the gender wage gap and carer responsibilities within my immediate and extended family. Despite an underlying, yet ever present feeling of isolation as I sit here and attempt to hammer out the ever-increasing workload, it turns out I’m doing life the same way the majority are. Thanks to the digital age, we are now more accessible and able to work 24 hours per day 7 days per week. Even the concept of blogging and tweeting to communicate and interact with classmates, lecturers and tutors embed the digital world into our culture, creating flexibility and access at the same time diminishing personal connections and human interaction. I had to smile at Rogers sentiments regarding the blurred boundaries between private friendships and public business putting Amway, a multi-level marketing model, to shame. I would argue that Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, which are now common practice marketing tools for any current service/business/organisation, though initially purposed to create a more socially connected community, don’t just blur the boundaries between public and private, rather decimate them. Although the flexibility should offer workers a better balance between work and family life, the lack of boundaries within the digital age have created challenges in segregating the two.
    What stood out to me, in this weeks reading (Bianchi & Milkie, 2010) was the work-family stressors and mental health research in relation to time pressures people experience. These “time pressures and deficits” due to work commitments and family obligations have been linked to depression and other mental health disorders, further highlighting the manner in which the 24/7 access and digital age impact on work/family balance. Furthermore, yet not discussed in this weeks readings, is the ever rising concern of technology addiction and the anti-social behaviours this fuels, with mental health issues growing more complex in an increasingly younger demographic. This presents the question- Do we really have enough understanding of the impact the digital age has in shaping our families and how do we regain balance?

    #S208UOW17 #TUT6 #MON1130

  10. Gender inequality is a continuing problem in today’s workplaces. The wage gap between a man and women on weekly earnings is despicable and affects many women across all industries. According to 2017 statistics by the ABS, the full-time gender pay gap is 16%. This is only a 1% difference to the 1996 17% wage gap. These statistics show that gender inequality is a huge problem in today’s employment industry and that these problems need to be tackled by implementing new policies. With the introduction of new policies, women would be able to feel more financially stable, especially those who are mothers, students or even seniors.

    https://www.wgea.gov.au/sites/default/files/BCEC%20WGEA%20Gender%20Pay%20Equity%20Insights%202017%20Report.pdf

  11. Gender inequality is a continuing problem in today’s workplaces. The wage gap between a man and women on weekly earnings is despicable and affects many women across all industries. According to 2017 statistics by the ABS, the full-time gender pay gap is 16%. This is only a 1% difference to the 1996 17% wage gap. These statistics show that gender inequality is a huge problem in today’s employment industry and that these problems need to be tackled by implementing new policies. With the introduction of new policies, women would be able to feel more financially stable, especially those who are mothers, students or even seniors.

    https://www.wgea.gov.au/sites/default/files/BCEC%20WGEA%20Gender%20Pay%20Equity%20Insights%202017%20Report.pdf

    #S208UOW17 #TUT6 #MON1630

  12. The gender gap within the workforce has been a controversial and problematic issue for a long period of time. It is rather conflicting to see how even in today’s society, there has not been a dramatic shift to help provide equality between the two genders in terms of work and pay. Gender Insights published a paper in 2016 which documented and provided insight into Australia’s gender pay gap. It noted that “men earn on average $80,345 per year and women $61,825 when assessing salaries on a full time employment basis – a difference of $18,520” (The Workplace Gender Equality Agency 2016, p. 13). This was incredibly shocking to read and as you have mentioned above, this issue needs to be addressed. Drastic measures need to be taken into consideration, especially if we want to move forward in society.

    #S208UOW17 #Tut6 #Wed1430

  13. At my place of employment, we are told that the hours we work are given to us so that we have a 50/50 work- family life balance but as Roger stated before that the flexibility is chosen by our bosses or the market and that it is not a way that suits the lives of our families. I know for a fact that 90% of the other employees at my workplace do not have a 50/50 work- family balance. Why should our bosses be the ones to decided how much time we get to spend with our families? Studies show that the man earns more than the women in the work force but I know that for my family that we would not be able to live off my father’s wage alone as we would not be able to live off my mother wage. In today’s world, some families are not able to survive off just one wage we need both parents working in order to live. So how are we meant to have a work-family balance when work is heavily dominated over the family?
    #S208UOW17 #Wed1430

  14. Many companies are encouraging work from home options. These are being pitched as better work-life options and family oriented well-being. In my experience the employer is the only one who benefits from this option. Not only do they have to provide less in the way of space and facilities, they are are gaining higher productivity by using this option. In my own experience, and that of other female collegues that have worked from home, the company is getting much more out of the employee than they would if the employee was simply working 9-5 in an office. I would find myself policing my own time out of guilt. For example I may put a load of washing on while working. That task in itself is only 10minutes out of my day but I would often work late into the night to ‘payback’ that time. At least when I worked in the office I logged of at 5 and that was the end of my work day. With the work from home, the work was interfering with time with my family as after dinner I would log back on to complete work I felt I had not done during the day. Additonally when I was at work I took a lunch break which I never did when working from home. There are a number of studies that suoport my experience. I would be interested in looking into this from a gender perspective.

    https://scholar.google.com.au/scholar?cluster=16250907569635340152&hl=en&as_sdt=2005&sciodt=0,5

    #S327UOW17 #tut6 # #WED1530

  15. Gender inequality has become a prominent issue in contemporary society. Currently, women in Australia, on average take home $283.20 less than men each week. This statistic highlights the pay gap that currently exists. Countless debates have taken place both in mainstream media and in parliament but little has been done to reduce this inequality. Though,the introduction of gender quotas in parliament has been a step towards a gender equal society. I question how long it will take both the Australian government and people to realise more is needed to achieve a gender equal society.

    Source – https://www.humanrights.gov.au/education/face-facts/face-facts-gender-equality

    #S208UOW17 #Wed1430

  16. I think an issue like this is incredibly indicative of both the opportunistic nature of the capital market and also of hegemonic patriarchy. For the market to benefit from a newly established cheap labour force at the direct expense of women OVER men leads me to a few conclusions. Firstly that the hegemony hasn’t rectified this pay gap indicates the acceptance of suffering for economic benefit (what’s new). Secondly that the gendered element of this instance represents a greater systemic issue with social attitudes towards men and women. Thirdly that the industrial emancipation of women, “allowing” the wide scale introduction of women into the workplace is a) an ongoing battle b) has resulted in a patriarchal shift which has achieved a new means of oppression and exploitation of women.

  17. The gender pay gap is an issue in Australia that definitely needs addressing, however in saying that as Roger mentioned there could be other policy changes implemented such as longer paid leave for fathers of newborn children. In regards to mothers working more than one job and being the breadwinner, a reason for this could be that after having a child a mother might find it easier to work one or more flexible hour jobs rather than a job in their chosen profession which may offer 9-5, 5 days a week.

    As was mentioned in the original post, work structure has changed. We no longer work just 9-5, some people do work these hours however work still goes home with them due to advances in technology. Someone may still be expected to reply to a client via email or take a phone call. If business is international this can not only interfere with ones family but also on their personal health meaning the other partner might need to take on more work to support the family.

    #S208UOW17 #Tut6 #Mon1130

  18. While traditionalised gender roles are being broken, they have still allowed for women’s prominence in the work force to hold them back from equal pay within the workforce, as well as recognition for unpaid work that occurs in the household; with or without children or partner. Work structures have changed due to advances in our globalised, technological world to become flexible in order to help family work patterns, however ‘flexibility’ may not be as convenient as intended for different family types.

    #S208UOW17 #Tut6 #Wed1430

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