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Paid work and parenthood: gender, class and cohort differences in the UK

Chanfreau, Jenny (2019) Paid work and parenthood: gender, class and cohort differences in the UK. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Are gender inequalities in the UK labour market narrowing as younger cohorts replace older ones? Over the past several decades, the labour market participation of women, and especially mothers, has increased extensively and the gap in the employment rates of women and men has shrunk drastically. At the same time, extensive educational expansion has been greater among women than men, thus closing the qualifications gap. The gender wage gap has reduced overall and is lowest among younger age groups. These substantial changes have been referred to collectively as a gender revolution. Yet there is also extensive evidence of enduring gendered inequalities in time spent in unpaid work and childcare. Social expectations that childrearing is primarily women’s responsibility, also reflected and reinforced in UK leave and benefit policies, mean that mothers are more likely to adjust their employment to accommodate childrearing. The focus of this thesis on parenthood and paid work is motivated by a concern about the cumulative life course costs of such adjustments in the UK policy context. The project describes labour market and educational changes since the Second World War and considers whether and how those changes have promoted greater gender equality at the classed intersection of paid work and childrearing. The research combines original empirical analyses of large-scale UK surveys, with a feminist analysis of policy as gendering practices in order to contextualise the empirical findings with a more structural perspective of gender that is lacking in the survey data. Documenting the persistence of the gendered and classed disadvantage for people born at different points in the 20th century, particularly when they transition to parenthood, the findings provide insight into how gendered social change is unfolding in the UK, and challenge the idea that gender inequality is in the process of disappearing of its own accord.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2019 Jenny Chanfreau
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Sets: Departments > Gender Institute
Supervisor: Sigle-Rushton, Wendy

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