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Key Issues in Women's Work

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Catherine Hakim|
Cavendish Publishing (20 September 2004)

Women's employment is one of the most widely discussed and often misunderstood issues of modern society. Are women today oppressed, or do they have the best of both worlds? Do women have to go out to work to gain equality with men, or do they already do more than their share of domestic work, caring work or voluntary work as well as work in the informal economy? Do women seek careers on the same terms as men or are they content to be dependent wives or secondary earners taking jobs on a short-term basis? How important is job segregation in explaining the 20 per cent pay gap between men and women? Have equal opportunities laws had any real impact? Are women in Europe lagging behind, or are they at the forefront of developments in modern societies? 

This new updated version of Catherine Hakim's classic text addresses all the key issues currently debated in relation to women's work - in the domestic sphere, as well as paid employment. Dr Hakim tests the power of patriarchy theory and preference theory against economic theories. Sex discrimination, work-life mobility, labour turnover, the returns to education, occupational segregation, the pay gap, the glass ceiling, and the impact of European Union policies are all considered. 

Analysis of historical documents over the 20th century, based on censuses, is complemented by case studies of people working in occupations undergoing dramatic change. Throughout the book, comparisons are drawn between the USA, Britain, other European counties, Canada, Australia, and also China, Japan and other Far Eastern societies. The analysis draws on sociology, economics, psychology, labour law, history and social anthropology to conclude that the diversity of women's life goals and lifestyle preferences is increasing. This explains the growing polarisation of women's employment and many contradictory recent research results. 


Press cuttings

True lies about the glass escalator (18 Feb 05)
Review of Catherine Hakim's Key Issues in Women's Work: female diversity and the polarisation of women's employment
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The perils of having it all (2 Feb 05)
Dr Catherine Hakim, sociologist at LSE, touches on the subject in her latest book Key Issues in Women's Work and points out that 'It's nothing to do with sex discrimination, but the recognition that you cannot have two major life projects - work and family - and give them both as much attention as they deserve.'