Work and wellbeing / Gender, work and family

Gender, work and family

undefinedEuropean Social Survey data, meanwhile, show us that, alongside changes in labour market participation, a traditionalist view of men as 'breadwinners' and women as 'homemakers' has declined. The survey asks two questions that seek to measure such attitudes. Employed people were asked whether they agree or disagree with the following statements:

When jobs are scarce, men should have more right to a job than women

A woman should be prepared to cut down on her paid work for the sake of her family

Table 6.6 shows that in 2004 only 16 per cent of men in paid work and 14 per cent of women in paid work agreed that men are the primary financial providers by right. In 2010, this view is even less popular: only 10 per cent of working men and nine per cent of working women agree. However, we can also see that a much larger group of workers of both sexes feel that women should be prepared to give family responsibilities greater priority than paid work. The proportion of employed women who agree stands at 40 per cent and has not altered since 2004. Interestingly, it is men - where the level of agreement has declined from 36 per cent to 31 per cent - whose opinions appear to have shifted towards a less traditionalist view of women's roles.
 

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Clearly a substantial minority of people in work believe that a woman's family responsibilities should come first if there is any conflict with her chosen working hours - this is the view expressed by four out of ten women in work. It is also apparent that the recession and its consequences for household budgets have done nothing to reinforce the traditionalist view of men's and women's work roles, and may even have served to erode it. It should be noted that the survey did not ask respondents whether a man should be prepared to cut down on paid work for the sake of his family. So it is possible that the persistence of this view in relation to women may reflect not the persistence of gender-traditional views about the nurturing role of women, but rather the view that family should take priority over work for everyone.

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Notes
  1. British Social Attitudes and European Social Survey analysis excludes Northern Ireland, whereas OECD data are based on the whole UK. Various terms are used in this chapter to refer to people in paid work (for example, "workers", "people in paid work", and "employed people"). They all denote everyone who is either an employee or is self-employed, who usually works 10 hours or more a week, and who considers work to be their main activity.
  2. Part-time work was defined as working less than 35 hours per week.
  3. Bases for Table 6.5 are as follows:

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  4. The fourth Work-Life Balance Employee Survey was conducted by NatCen Social Research for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
  5. This includes people who say they "always", "often", "sometimes" or "hardly ever" do this, but excludes those who say they "never" do.
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  • Notes
    1. British Social Attitudes and European Social Survey analysis excludes Northern Ireland, whereas OECD data are based on the whole UK. Various terms are used in this chapter to refer to people in paid work (for example, "workers", "people in paid work", and "employed people"). They all denote everyone who is either an employee or is self-employed, who usually works 10 hours or more a week, and who considers work to be their main activity.
    2. Part-time work was defined as working less than 35 hours per week.
    3. Bases for Table 6.5 are as follows:

      undefined
       
    4. The fourth Work-Life Balance Employee Survey was conducted by NatCen Social Research for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
    5. This includes people who say they "always", "often", "sometimes" or "hardly ever" do this, but excludes those who say they "never" do.
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