Unit IV: Gender and Work in the Global Economy
Work is an arena in which gendered processes intersect with multiple social inequalities to influence what jobs people have, how they experience those jobs, and whether those jobs provide them with secure, fulfilling and upwardly mobile careers, or relegate them to insecure, dead-end, dangerous, or even degrading labor. In the US, hard work is supposed to lead to a whole host of social and material rewards (i.e., respect, power, a house, a car, a yacht). The context surrounding hard work, for instance whether that work is paid or unpaid, compensated at a minimum wage or six-figure salary, is gendered in deep and complex ways. As we mentioned previously, childcare is hard work that is often underpaid or not paid at all and is most often done by women. Furthermore, even if women do not perform most of this work themselves, certain career trajectories are forced on them, and they are placed in lower paying and less prestigious “mommy tracks” whether or not they choose this themselves. We can also see institutionalized labor inequalities at the global scale by looking at who cares for North American children when middle-class mothers take on full-time jobs and hire nannies, typically immigrant women from Eastern Europe and the Global South, to care for their children.