Women’s Experiences at Work and Their Gender Roles

Introduction

Hello? My name is Oscar Charlie. I am researching women’s experiences with the labor market and family-work conflict. I therefore kindly request your permission to offer me the chance to ask you a few questions on this subject. The information you give will be treated with the utmost confidentiality.

Interviewees

  • Shelly Adam (35 years)
  • Fareda Kassim (65 years)

Interviews

Oscar Charlie: What is your occupation now?

Shelly Adam: I work as a public relations officer.

Fareda Kassim: I am a retired nurse, currently working as a homemaker.

Oscar Charlie: Why did you choose that particular job?

Shelly Adam: I have always had the desire to woo people into my way of thinking. Therefore, while choosing my career, I decided to choose a field that would enable me to interact with people coming from diverse backgrounds and with differing opinions.

Fareda Kassim: Taking care of people who cannot be able to take care of themselves has always been my inspiration. I initially thought about pursuing medicine. However, my grades could not permit me. Also, nursing is more feminine than medicine. Therefore, amid the low grades, nursing remained a wonderful choice for me. Currently, at the age of 65, I still possess the inspiration for taking care of people. This inspiration is keeping me focused on watching my little grandchildren grow up besides taking care of my aging husband.

Oscar Charlie: How do you think your gender influenced your experiences at work?

Shelly Adam: As a public relations officer, I spend a lot of time with people of different gender, racial backgrounds, and of different ages among other demographic differences between people. At times, I am forced to work late in the night meeting the people although I have my two children waiting for me back at home. Additionally, many are situations when I have to travel abroad in line with my work obligations leaving behind my husband and children. During such instances, I cannot help thinking about the noble responsibilities to my husband and children awaiting me back home. This influences my productivity at work as a female officer.

Fareda Kassim: As a mother, I encountered challenges on how to fulfill my obligations at home in a bid to execute my work responsibilities. Therefore, my gender roles were critical in determining how to combine family and work duties without having to wear myself out. Even though my husband would help me a great deal in housework and taking care of children, the largest portion of the work was reserved for me. Career work seemed like a heavy burden that I had to carry to see the financial well-being of my family is realized.

Oscar Charlie: What other types of work have you done?

Shelly Adam: I have worked as a sales assistant at a local store.

Fareda Kassim: I worked as a consumers’ store attendant before joining college to train in nursing.

Oscar Charlie: Do you stay at home?

Shelly Adam: Yes

Fareda Kassim: Yes

Oscar Charlie: Have you always stayed at home?

Shelly Adam: Not always: I am on work trips sometimes

Fareda Kassim: Yes

Oscar Charlie: Who usually does the housework in your home?

Shelly Adam: I have a house help to do the general household duties. However, I am sensitive to some other issues such as how my children and husband dress and or eat. Therefore, I take up these duties.

Fareda Kassim: While I was working as a nurse, I had a house help to do most of the general works at home. However, I would take up some specific roles by myself such as doing the laundry work for my husband among others. These duties would keep me busy late at the night.

Oscar Charlie: How do your family’s needs influence your career and vice versa?

Shelly Adam: The needs of my family come first. That is why I work anyway! The higher the needs of my family, the harder I have to work to build my career so that I can satisfy them all. Fortunately, my present career enables me to play my part in fulfilling the current needs of my family.

Fareda Kassim: My career oscillated around meeting the demand placed on me by my family. Could it not have been possible to satisfy the needs of the family through my career, even now, if I were working, I would still be willing to change it.

Analysis

Similarities

Both women’s paid work is similar because the choice of their career leading to the professional work they do or have engaged in at one time is influenced by their life ambitions. From the contexts of unpaid work, executing domestic chores is guided by their perceived roles in their families. The significance of this finding is that women have additional roles to play at homes in addition to their paid work.

The willingness and obligation to do home-related work is driven by the perceptions that women have certain gender roles to play at homes such as taking care of children. Even though both women consider employing people to help them out, they still believe that some household chores are not perfectly done if there is no input of their physical effort. Therefore, their gender roles in their home compete with their paid full-time jobs.

Differences

The experiences of both women with the labor market and family-work conflict are different in some ways. While Shelly Adam raises concerns for a clash of work and gender roles reserved for her at home, Fareda Kassim does not evidence such concerns. This difference is perhaps explained by the fact that Shelly Adam has to travel and leave behind her family while Fareda Kassim has always been with her family. Another crucial difference is that Fareda Kassim has perceptions that some jobs are reserved for men. The perception reveals why she says that nursing is more feminine. On the other hand, Shelly Adam is comfortable with her public relations job even if it takes up lots of her time meant for spending with her family. Hence, she believes she can equally perform in the job as men.

Macro-Micro Analysis

The era for the prescription of certain roles for women in homes is widely non-existent. This means that women are free from male domineering and can pursue long life careers. Unfortunately, drawing from the interview results, women still have an intrinsically motivated obligation to carryout out certain gender-related roles at their homes. When this argument is extended to include a whole society, several questions arise.

One such question is whether a job involving long-distance travel is appropriate for women. This question is significant since such jobs would eat into the time available for women to engage with their families. In the same line of thought, puzzled Hakim asserts, “many senior-level management jobs involve vast amounts of travel, sometimes long-distance, frequently on an unpredictable timetable, and periodically for extended periods away from the home base” (281). Public relations are one of such jobs. Apart from family time consumed in travels, as evidenced by Shelly Adam, jobs in the public relations industry entail working irregular hours.

Even if no long-distance traveling is involved, women working in the industry have their family time eaten up by work-related roles. Now, it sounds imperative to infer that, given the concerns of Shelly Adam, women who are still not willing to give away perceptions of having extra roles of doing gender-related roles at their homes are prone to suffering from the disadvantages of having full participation in their paid work. Such disadvantages include missing out on job promotions (Carr 105: Wajcman 49) because they are forced to work shorter hours since they have domestic roles, which are gender-related to combine with their paid work.

Argument

Both women’s experience in paid work is similar in several ways. However, a striking similarity is that they both have a perception that, in addition to their full time paid job, they have a noble role to play caring for their husbands and children. The contributing factor to this experience is that both women do not embrace their paid jobs as the only thing they have to do in their lives. From their responses, it is clear that they believe that paid work is just an additional responsibility to their accustomed home-based chores. With the identified similar experience of both women and its contributing factor, it is vital to develop an argument on how to ensure that women are capacitated to combine familial and paid work roles without tearing them up.

Recognizing that women have several domestic roles to play in addition to their formal work roles, immense research on the possibilities of domesticating various jobs has emerged. The aim is to harmonize many jobs with demands placed on women. Such demands require them to multi-task. Hakim notes, “once women gained access to higher education after the equal opportunity revolution, sex differences in cognitive abilities evaporated” (276).

The result was making women have equal employment opportunities with men. Unfortunately, immense scholarly evidence claims that there are still persistent differences in terms of sex-related differences in abilities, life goals, social altitudes, and even behaviors (Coltrane 1209). These differences hinder the full participation of both genders in full-time employment. The relativity in the perception of the significance of family among different genders and the perceptions of gender roles at homes can influence the choice of careers (Singley and Hynes 381). This goes hard in determining the degree to which men and women participate in employments (Hakim 277).

This argument is incredibly supported by the findings of the interview conducted on the two women. The two women’s responses imply that their jobs are as equally important as their domestic roles. They must then combine the two.

Arguably, tantamount to the findings of the interview, amid the effort put by many nations to ensure that women have full participation in employment, their full participation in employment is hindered by some dominant perceptions ingrained in their mentality. Shelly Adam exemplifies such perceptions when she claims that, while in the abroad work trips, she still feels her obligations at home are not met accordingly without her contribution.

For this reason, OECD argues that women would gain the ability to achieve the highest ranks in jobs in case employers agree to adopt various family-friendly job arrangements and other benefits such as part-time work and parental leave among others (123). Family-friendly job arrangements can incredibly benefit many women including the ones interviewed since they would get ample time to execute their duo chores. Hence, they can establish a good combination of family work, which they believe is one of their gender roles, and paid work, which they believe is necessary for the financial wellbeing of their families.

The only challenge here is that, even though family friendly job arrangements policies could be of great benefit to the interviewed women, Phillips claims, “latest research evidence is that family-friendly policies do not make any major positive difference to gender equality in the labor market” (7). Therefore, putting in place policies within workplaces to ensure that women can carry out their perceived gender roles at home besides participating in paid labor is problematic.

Conclusion

The discussions of the paper are based on the results of an interview conducted with two women. The interview aimed to determine the experiences of women in the labor market and work coupled with their perceived gender roles at home. The findings were then analyzed in the context of scholarly research and evidence of how women can perform their duo obligations successfully. Approaches for realizing this endeavor such as the creation of job arrangement policies that are family-friendly have been discussed as being problematic since Scholarly evidence proves that they acerbate the problem they are meant to solve.

Thus, the paper maintains that women still have to balance their gender roles at homes and their paid work. However, even though the community anciently proclaimed the gender roles, the paper argues that these roles are self-created in the lives of women living in the 21st century.

Interview Notes

  • In the twenty-first century, roles of women have evolved from being only taking part in home-based chores to permit full participation of women in paid labor just like their men counterparts
  • Does it mean that women have been freed from their contribution to domestic roles? Is according to equal employment opportunities to women add to them extra roles in addition to their traditional domestic roles such as taking care of housework?
  • While struggling to seek a response to these queries, it is also significant to evaluate the dilemma of whether indeed the proclaimed equality of women in work places is real or just a myth. There is a need to link women’s experiences at home and work environments with the scholarly evidence of the roles of women in work and home lives.
  • The first woman (Shelly Adam) is a public relations worker. She is 35 years old.
  • The second woman (Fareda Kassim) is a retired nurse aged 65 years.
  • She is currently serving as a full-time homemaker.
  • Based on the findings, even though women have acquired the full capacity to participate in driving economic growth through having equal access to employment opportunities with men, a big portion of domestic duties is still being reserved for them.

Works Cited

Carr, Deborah. “The Psychological Consequences of Work-Family Trade-Offs for three Cohorts of Men and Women.” Social Psychology Quarterly 65.2(2002): 103-124. Print.

Coltrane, Scott. “Research on House Hold Labor: Modeling and Measuring the Social The embeddedness of Routine Family Work.” Journal of Marriage and Family 62.4(2000): 1208-1233. Print.

Hakim, Catherine. “Women, Careers, and Work-Life Preferences.” British Journal of Guidance and Counseling 34.3 (2006): 279-295. Print.

OECD. Balancing work and family life: helping parents into paid employment. In: Employment Outlook (pp. 129-166). Paris: OECD, 2001. Print.

Phillips, Arthur. “Defending equality of outcome.” Journal of Political Philosophy 12.2 (2004) :1-19. Print.

Singley, Susan, and Kathryrn Hynes. “Transitions to Parenthood: Work-Family Policies, Gender, and the Couple Context.” Gender and Society 19.3(2005): 376-397. Print.

Wajcman, Johnston. Managing Like a Man: Women and Men in Corporate Management. Philadelphia, PA: Pennsylvania University Press, 1998. Print.