For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Revisiting radical feminism: Partnered dual-earner mothers' place still in the home?"

by Liu, Xuanqi; Dyer, Suzette (2014)


Synopsis Despite significant growth in maternal employment, women still perform the majority of unpaid work in dual-earner families. In our qualitative exploratory study, we examine how 10 working mothers make sense of traditional gender roles, experience, and explain the division of unpaid work practised within their home. Similar to prior research, we found that all 10 women experienced time imbalance as a result of combining motherhood and paid work. Moreover, seven of them performed the majority of unpaid work and childcare home, and changed jobs to do so. Importantly, we contribute to current understandings about dual-earner families by uncovering four distinct ways these women made sense of traditional gender roles including: acceptance, resistance, re-negotiation, and rejection. Those who accepted also aligned and indentified with traditional gender roles, and expressed a preference to be stay-at-home mothers. Those who resisted and re-negotiated traditional gender roles still performed the majority of unpaid work. The three women rejecting traditional gender roles shared the financial responsibility and the unpaid work in their home. These women implicitly or explicitly drew on biological and socially constructed differences between men and women, their husbands' work commitments and attitudes, and the presence of children to explain their experiences of imbalance and the division of unpaid work practised in their homes. We find that a radical lens provides analytical insight to help explain these women's experiences. We conclude that while traditional gender division of unpaid work in the home is being challenged, it is still widely practised in the majority of these women's homes.


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Domestic Labour, Home and Work

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