Résumés en anglais traduits du français par Agnès Carlet-Lemée (jusqu'en 2019), puis par Hélène Windish
N° 45/2021 – Women Farmers
Aïda Quinatoa, an Ecuadorian indigenous woman’s struggle in Spain
Rebels at work.
Female workers standing up together in the (post) Tunisian revolution.
During the Tunisian revolution, which began at the end of 2010, social gender relationships were redefined by women’s massive participation in the protests. In this context, a female workers’ struggle, which has been unique both in terms of its duration and its methods of organization and actions, took place from 2011 to 2014 within a French multinational’s subsidiary. To cope with the deplorable working conditions (humiliation, sexual harassment, long hours, etc.), the workers organized under the banner of the country’s main trade union center, the UGTT. By favoring inclusive and little-hierarchized operations and modes of action, the almost exclusively female grassroots union allowed speaking more freely and helped shift the boundaries of gender. This article focuses on the two female union leaders, both with a propensity for activism which evolved and transformed as the event unfolded, and also shows how various registers of action were mobilized due to the ambivalent relationship between the struggle and the union structures, and to its radicalization in the face of increasingly harsh employer repression.
The moral and political components of women farmers’ parental work
This article examines the familist foundations of the parenting and domestic practices promoted by women farmers. Their adherence to a strict division of gender roles is morally defended and collectively prescribed, functioning both as an identity resource and a lever for political expression for professionally downgraded women within the agricultural sector. Immersive work within women’s agricultural development groups and interviews with their members reveal a quest for respectability that relies on promoting family values and the respect of gender norms. By making themselves the spokespersons for family order and for an allegedly authentic and virtuous agricultural cultural model, women farmers are thus inventing honorable forms of commitment which, though they are not open forms of protest, are no less defensive.
The profession of woman organic farmer:
establishing a new relationship to work?
Through a close examination of the responses to the questionnaire survey conducted in 2018 by the Fédération nationale d’agriculture biologoque and the Agence Bio, this article seeks to present women organic farmers through their – complex and ambivalent – relationship to their work on their farms. Their desire for technical and mechanical outdoor activities contrasts sharply with the persisting gendered division of labor, which classically assigns them to other roles, such as administrative tasks, which they overwhelmingly reject. “New” diversification activities, such as direct sales to consumers, do not appeal to them either. Being a woman organic farmer today therefore seems to imply fully claiming the prerogatives of a farm manager, by challenging the traditional gendered division of agricultural labor.
Pierre Guillemin and Michaël Bermond
Women neo-farmers put to the test of marital separation
In the scientific literature, the perpetuation of male domination in agriculture can be examined through the prism of divorce in particular. Based on two case studies drawn from a press review (in the daily Ouest-France), this article proposes research questions regarding the roles played by different types of capital and by context effects in the atypical nature of women farmers who have separated from their spouses yet have remained at the head of the family farms. Unlike other counterurbanites, they seem to have succeeded in thwarting certain gender norms in agriculture, despite enduring male domination.
Looking back on “women farmers”: forgotten figures in research and feminism.
In this article, Clotilde Lemarchant and Pauline Seiller speak to Rose-Marie Lagrave, a sociologist and honorary research director at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, who contributed to launching research on women farmers in the 1980s, combining rural sociology and the sociology of social gender relationships. Rose-Marie Lagrave looks back on her trajectory and explains how the social sciences, like the feminist movement, have made certain categories of the population more or less visible.
Rural women in the face of patriarchal colonial history in Brazil
This article analyzes the conditions of politicization of rural women in their relationship to the land, as a territory and as an object of work and care. Relying on a socio-historical approach, the rural women’s movement is examined through its links with past and present struggles for land. Based on a case study of assentamento Maceió, in the Brazilian Nordeste, the analysis explores the nexus between productive, activist, and care work. Three lines of inquiry are tackled: the intersection of local history and colonial, patriarchal, and neoliberal history; the conditions of the politicization and organization of activist and care work at the level of a group of rural women; and the political dimension of productive work interwoven with socio-environmental care work. These lines of inquiry allow accounting for a series of peasant strategies to reclaim the territory and build a project of resistance/re-existence.
N° 46/2021 – (Re)configurations of domestic work
Margaret Maruani, worj put to the test of feminism
Domestic work and the production of a lifestyle.
This article analyzes the nature and distribution of domestic work within upper-class households, which are more endowed with economic than cultural capital, where women are housewives or are far from remunerative jobs. Closely examining the relationship of these women to domestic work sheds light on little-known asymmetric situations that provide insight into the interplay of gender and class social relations. Because the gendered division of labor that prevails in the majority of these households is pushed to the extreme, the situations of these housewives magnify gender logics. The article shows that the women are far from being “non-working” housewives, and that they fully participate in the social positioning of the household in particular by carrying out education, consumption, and maintenance of social capital work, shaping the lifestyle of their households, which are anchored within the upper classes.
Workers dressing the part.
Gender and professional clothing in France (years 1870-1920).
At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, work clothing received increased attention from the various actors in the professional world. Far from being trivial and freely chosen by workers, work clothing was part of socio-economic dynamics and of variously demanding political, cultural, and professional contexts. Managers, legislators, civil society actors, and workers participated in the process of clothing codification that made work clothes the product of a social construction at the end of the 19th century. Social gender practices and prohibitions therefore tended to normalize clothing uses within the professional world, in particular that of workers and employees.
Marie Cartier, Anaïs Collet, Estelle Czerny, Pierre Gilbert, Marie-Hélène Lechien, Sylvie Monchatre, and Camille Noûs
Come on, fathers!
The conditions of men’s involvement in domestic and parental work
Based on research on thirty heterosexual couples, this article examines the social conditions of fathers’ investment in domestic and parental work, between gender and class. It emphasizes the role of staggered working hours, which lead fathers to be alone at home, as well as situations of hypogamy. While fathers carry out specific work to secure the present and the future, they also take on a daily role of auxiliaries to their spouses. Their participation is the result of the socialization and enrollment work carried out by mothers, which adds to the latter’s domestic and parental load. Finally, the article studies the dynamics of the power relations and sometimes conflictual arrangements within couples: while the economy of conjugal feelings may generate an increased enrollment of fathers thanks to crises, it most often contributes to perpetuating gender inequalities in the private sphere.
Such privileged women? The weariness of being served by domestic workers
While they have in their service one, two, three, or even several dozen full-time domestic workers who serve their families on a daily basis, the women interviewed during a survey on the use of domesticity by very wealthy families claim that they devote a significant amount of time and energy to the management of their homes. Reserved for rather affluent households in the contexts in which they hire, the use of domestic service is nevertheless a privilege: women delegate reproductive work to others to engage in productive work, and/or leisure. However, the complaints of the women interviewed, who are particularly privileged, deserve to be taken seriously: this article aims to discuss the paradox of their domestic investment even though they resort to significant domestic service. It questions whether these women are relieved of reproductive work on the one hand, and whether they are as relieved as their husbands on the other. In fact, the article shows that employing staff recreates an unequal and lasting division of labor between male and female employers, even when the latter work: the former handle the financial transactions to pay employees, while the latter handle the relational and emotional work necessary for the selection and supervision of staff, which is much more of a commitment.
Elie Guéraut, Fanny Jedlicki, and Camille Noûs
The student emigration of “local” girls.
Between social emancipation and spatial reassignment
This article deals with the question of the residential migrations caused by the pursuit of higher education in France. While since the 1990s, access to university has greatly increased, this evolution has come at the cost of a strong hierarchy of higher education courses, within which the position occupied largely depends on sex and social origin. In a first part based on the analysis of statistical data and case studies, the article examines the spatial dimension of the distribution of students in the higher education space. Women are more likely than men to leave their places of residence after the baccalaureate, but also to return after their studies, especially in the working classes. The second part of the article shows that this phenomenon, which concerns in particular young women from rural areas and small and medium-sized cities, can be explained by a deficit of social resources, as well as by the multiple reminders of their origins weighing on them. The article ultimately highlights the small differences in the life journeys of “local” students, depending on the fraction occupied in the working classes.
Martine Gross and Michael Stambolis-Ruhstorfer
Who washes the family’s dirty laundry?
The division of domestic labor in same-sex and different-sex couples
This article studies the distribution of household tasks within different-sex and same-sex couples in France. It uses quantitative data from the Elfe study (French longitudinal study since childhood) and Devhom (same-sex parenting, family functioning, development, and socialization of children). So far, the comparative literature has studied domestic work as a block. By detailing six tasks, our analysis reveals precise gendered patterns which, based on these samples, characterize the two types of families. While the same-sex couples surveyed share domestic work more equitably or do it together, the different-sex couples in the sample establish a gendered assignment of tasks which mothers take on alone, with the exception of repairs and washing the dishes. Thus, these same-sex families seem less to reproduce the norms that reflect the male domination of the distribution of tasks.
Sharing domestic work online.
A study of working-class Facebook accounts
Based on the analysis of the exchanges and links shared on 46 Facebook accounts belonging to workers and employees in the service sector, this article studies the messages about domestic work produced and received from a gender perspective. Three types of speech on the subject can be distinguished: complaints about the burdensome nature of these tasks coming from women in the form of written messages, which trigger a chain of empathetic reactions among women; posts found online demanding the recognition of women’s work which only circulate on women’s accounts; and cartoons or funny stories against male domination which struggle to find an audience. The article notes the great absence of male interlocutors in these discussions, and raises the question, in the working classes, of the conditions for women’s rising aspirations for more equality, which are so weakly taken up among men.
N° 43/2020 – Dirty Jobs
Mirabelle, a Gender Trouble at Madame Arthur’s
Christelle Avril and Irene Ramos Vacca
Getting One’s Hands Dirty for Others.
Women’s Jobs and Moral Division of Labour
What is a “woman’s job”? This article enriches the feminist answer to that question considering a neglected aspect of Everett Hughes’s developments on “dirty work”: roles in the moral division of labor. Based on three studies, the first one on home carers, the second on pediatric nursing assistants and nurses, and the third on hospital secretaries; the authors suggest that a “woman’s job” is rather defined by what is left to be done and less by what it entitles by itself. If women can positively experience this delegation when they adopt “good roles”, it becomes harder when they have to get their hands dirty for others. Indeed, they endorse “bad roles” by relieving their superiors from less moral or even immoral tasks. This article contributes to understanding the connections between the division of gender roles and the construction of power and prestige positions.
Gender inequalities and occupational health.
The case of the « dirty work » of sorting domestic waste
The field of waste sorting is often quoted as an example of the field of « dirty jobs » defined by Hughes, be it from the perspective of working conditions, that of social and gendered work division or that of subjective dimensions that are mobilized in that activity. In this article, we offer an interpretation of the results of an ergonomic study in French household waste sorting centers from the perspective of such notions as dirty jobs and gender. By studying the working conditions of this industrial, assembly line work performed by joint teams, we show the gendered, social and spatial divisions linked to the distribution of tasks and positions on the sort chain. These results question hard work and its impact according to gender. They offer a playback grid to grasp how sensitivity is tested in that activity, as well as its impacts, such as social recovery thanks to its green purpose.
Exercising and preserving oneself.
The ambivalent link to the body and health among sweepers and garbage collectors of the public sector
Virility traditionally plays a central role in the construction of male identity in lifestyles and working experience of workers. Among garbage collectors and sweepers, virile values (courage, physical strength, endurance, resistance to pain, etc.) remain the foundation of professional culture and ways to deal with « dirty jobs ». But they also are complemented by, or even replaced by, a professional disposition to protect the body and one’s health, which is necessary to keep the job. The nature of the activity and the evolutions in the field (modernization, medicalization, social composition) as well as the trajectory and social characteristics of the respondants shed light on the new composition of masculinities and deviation from virile standards within the group.
Masculinity of male scavengers and disqualification of female scavengers in Paris (1830-1880)
Observing the situation of socially devalued men sheds a different light on male domination. Masculinity is understood not as substantial, but as political, as a domination order that, by distinguishing males from females, grants the former a socially legitimate superiority. Based on heterogenous literary and iconographic sources, this study of the construction of scavengers in the 19th century, a particularly stigmatized group, shows that the masculinity they are granted by the cultural elite stems from a double power relation : a class relation that assigns them degraded forms of masculinity and a gender relation that integrates them to a common humanity, from which female scavengers are implicitely excluded. These women must both bear educated men’s despise and male scavengers’ domination, the latter having the right to exploit their bodies and being expected to submit them to their domestic law.
Eric Le Bourhis
Careers under the glass ceiling
Women architects in Soviet Latvia
Latvia stands out by the speed and scope at which the profession of architect feminized over the 20th century, whether in Europe or in the Soviet Union, which annexed Latvia during the Second World War. This article focuses on the factors and limits of feminization of this little professional group after 1945. It questions the Soviet and local mechanisms of feminization of this profession and the international transformations of this trade so as to show the discrepancy between, on the one had, training and recruitment, favorable to women, and on the other hand a professional world governed by just as powerful sexist exclusion mechanisms until de 1980s. These mechanisms are interpreted as arrangements after which women’s progression in the profession is used to absorb the constraints inherent to the trade.
When the performance of a reproductive body becomes a job.
Surrogacy in India
Considering gestation for others as a job in India leads to grasping the complexity of this reality. If, from a feminist perspective, reproduction is considered to be a job, in India, gestation for others is concretely organized as such. Gestators themselves consider gestation for others as an alternative salaried activity, one that offers much better conditions than their previous jobs. But this work reveals hierarchies and dominations and comprises social and health hazards for the workers, especially because of the performance optimization of their reproductive bodies. If these hierarchies and dominations must be related to gendered social relations in India, considering gestation for others as a job enables a much more critical view on the condition of reproductive workers in the country. Some female organizations understood this : instead of fighting the practice per se, they worked on improving the working conditions of the gestators. However, this mobilization seems out of date, now that a new bill aims at a local and altruistic gestation.
N° 44/2020 – Intersectionality in the Workplace
Maryse Dumas, a Union Leader at the Side of Women
Intersectionality in the Workplace
Racial Policies in Domestic Work in Metropolitan France between the 1850s and 1930s: The Creation of White Domestic Work and its Racialized Margins
This article explores the racialization process in the world of domestic work between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, around the city of Saint-Etienne (France). What was the racial policy for hiring and treating servants in metropolitan France? Based on judicial and administrative sources, the article examines how the French state preferred the domestic workforce to remain white in metropolitan France, and how the minority of racialized servants were treated by state institutions, employers, and, in a more labile way, by their class peers. The class, gender, and nationality of the protagonists participated in this racialization, leading to the construction of white privilege for white workers in a context where domestic employers were uniformly white.
Jennifer Jihye Chun, George Lipsitz, and Young Shin
Intersectionality as a Social Movement Strategy: Asian Immigrant Women Advocates
The history of Asian Immigrant Women Advocates (AIWA) in Oakland and San Jose, California, over nearly three decades provides a vivid illustration of social movement intersectionality in action, of the logic of intersectionality inside an organized movement for social change, and of the utility of intersectionality to expose the diffuse and differential nature of interlocking forms of oppression. The article discusses the origins of the concept of intersectionality, both in scholarly circles and as part of a long history of social movement struggle in the United States. Drawing on ethnographic work and archival documents, it illuminates how this community-based organization has embraced intersectionality as a vital part of the everyday work of social movement mobilizations: as a framework for analyzing the interlocking arenas of gender, family, work, and nation in the experience of immigrant women workers; as a reflexive approach for linking social movement theory and practice; and finally as a guiding structure for promoting “peer leadership” and new, more inclusive forms of democratic activity.
Revisiting the Gendered Division of Labor in Rural China Today
Newly Valued Female Employment and Persistent Family Subordination
Since the 1980s, as female labor has come to be valued socially and economically, the growing contribution of Chinese women to productive activities, as well as their not insignificant participation in social and community activities, may give the impression of a decline in the Confucian ideology of separation of the sexes in Chinese society, encapsulated in the expression “men are breadwinners and women homemakers” (nanzhuwai, nüzhunei). Based on an ethnographic study carried out in the village of Zhang (Henan province) between 2013 and 2016, this article shows that the gendered division of labor in productive and social activities has been reconfigured, redefining what “inside” and “outside” are in the context of significant migration flows. Yet, the value of man-outside/woman-inside endures and continues to regulate the organization of villagers’ lives.
Muslim Women Entrepreneur Networks in France. Dealing with Multiple Discriminations
This article analyzes the indirect effects of structural and intersectional discriminations on the work of Muslim women who wear the hijab in France. The overlapping categories of race, class, gender, and religion, for hijab wearers, strongly hamper these women’s job prospects. By examining both the school-to-work continuum, which builds bodily knowledge, and surveys on the direct consequences of wearing the hijab at work, this article describes and analyzes two networks of Muslim women micro-entrepreneurs created in response to discrimination in access to employment. The respondents had no inherited predisposition to entrepreneurship. They have found a way to compensate for this lack of entrepreneurial know-how through networking and coworking. The Islamic religious resource is analyzed to clarify its function in terms of symbolic capital and stigma reversal. It appears that these women’s religious commitment, as well as their family responsibilities, makes professional independence the only acceptable way to work without having to compromise their religious beliefs. Their entrepreneurship remains a peripheral economic activity bringing in low profits.
Amélie Le Renard
An Intersectional and Postcolonial Approach to a Privilege.
Westernity and Whiteness on the Dubai Labor Market
Based on a sociological survey on the way Western privilege plays out between Dubai and France, this article takes part in two debates within the field of intersectionality: how can this notion be combined with transnational and postcolonial approaches? Is it relevant to use intersectionality to study people who are in a dominant position? The article shows that, in Dubai, all Western passport holders have advantages, but not the same ones: expatriation contracts and family packages disproportionately advantage white men. The gap between people’s experiences is widening in the medium run. Some individuals can easily move, while others feel compelled to stay in Dubai. Some careers come to an end, especially those of non-white women. The experience of this privilege is thus precarious and fleeting. Lastly, French people’s projections on Gulf states do not affect all people who return from Dubai in the same way.
Citizenship Refused: Domestic Workers Faced with State Labor Regulations in Réunion (1945-1960)
In 1945, domestic workers in Réunion created the Union of Maids and Laundresses and took part in a broad anti-colonial movement demanding equal political and social rights for French citizens and Réunion Islanders. Based on activist and administrative sources, this article aims to show that the analysis of the mobilization of these employees on the one hand and of the institutional responses between 1945 and 1960 on the other hand provides a privileged prism to grasp how a colonial regime based on gender, class, and race social divisions was maintained and renewed, at the very moment when a French political and social citizenship was being established locally, following the 1946 law granting the status of département.
N° 41/2019 – Work Clothes
Amel Ben Rhouma and Bilel Kchouk
Women’s access to Governance in Tunisia. A Study from the Perspective of Capabilities
This research focuses on women in political and economic governing positions in Tunisia in the context of the democratic transition initiated in 2011. Our quantitative study shows that representativity remains low. Life stories of 29 « women of power » underline the ressources and capacities of these women, linked to emancipation since the country’s independance (especially access to higher education) and an supportive family and social environment. However, these evolutions are stopped by structural resistance such as the practice of co-optation within the Tunisian administration, low visibility of women in the media and a persistent conservative culture that favors male supremacy.
Isabel Boni-Le Goff
Respectable Experts? Sartorial Aesthetics and the Production of Trust
Considered as « intellectual », management consultancy is rarely approached from the angle of bodily mediation, nor of the incarnation work that is entails. From the beginning, starting consultants learn to take into account a number of expectations that are historically and socially constructed to produce a convincing personal facade and to pass as an expert. The controlled production of this expert figure centrally stages clothing. The article underlines how much contemporary clothing norms in this profession are influenced by professional figures that were historically constructed. It testifies to persistent gendered aesthetics, despite the important influx of women in this ancient male bastion. It then analyses complex clothing experiments of female consultants : their permanent vigilance not to break the dress code, the very shared fear of making an aesthetic and symbolic mistake. By focusing on problematic clothing situations, the article offers a heuristic approach to the social and symbolic functions of working clothes, to symbolic violence and to power relations they could support.
Notaries, the Gender of a Profession with a Heritage
The notary trade, a profession with patrimony, is historically a narrow job market. Women’s appearance on that market, which is open to them since 1948, has nevertheless broadened over the past two decades. Several hints even reveal a massive feminization inherent to schooling, as has been identified in other lawful trades, but to other factors more specific to the notary trade such as diversification of positions and of professional statuses. Work experiences and subjective perceptions of feminization still remain very diverse with some remaining masculine resistance and, as far as women go, generational differences in terms of trajectories, social origin, family background… The gap thus seems important between feminization as perceived by certain professionals and reality. The reform under way could favor female enterpreneurship as well as gendered segregration forms.
Uniformed and Plainclothes: London Policewomen (1919-1959)
Focusing on the work of female police officers in London, this article discusses the importance of dress as a crucial technology through which identities of police and policed were performed and constituted. Uniform and plain-clothes duties relied on different but related surveillance strategies. Uniform gave women confidence and security as they moved into new environments, becoming part of the urban spectacle and a highly visible form of ‘feminine’ authority. Yet they were also used for plain-clothes and undercover observations on suspected brothels, gambling joints and unlicensed drinking clubs. Female officers were taught to interpret the dress and physiognomy of others in relation to cultural codes regarding class and status as well as gender; they then used this knowledge to adapt their own appearance, subverting the symbolic order for official purpose.
Politicians and ter Work Clothes. Representation, Resemblance and Faux Pas
This article aims at showing that far from being anecdotal, working clothes of elected representatives are linked to their core business: political representation. It first recalls a few French clothing scandals (Cécile Duflot, Jack Lang, Valérie Pécresse, François Ruffin, etc.) that illustrate social and gendered requirements that are expected of political professionals. Going back to the French revolution, it analyzes how several factors combine (social selection of the elected, clothing norms of the upper class, will to impose authority, etc.) to create a general rule : clothing of the elected must distinguish them from those they represent. That combination also creates a few variations linked to partisan memberships. Finally, it focuses on the contradictory evolution of politicians’ obligations as far as dressing code is concerned – over time, their bodies are less and less affected, but more and more scrutinized and controlled.
Concierge Material: Tialoring Masculinity in the Service of Luxury
The entry point of this article is the uniform worn by men in the luxury hotel business trades. It reveals that men’s uniform, far from being a mere lever of univocal virilization, induces less explored forms of renegotiation of male identities that are inseperable from the social trajectories of those men. Starting from an ethnographic, statistical and archival study of the hotel janitor trade, the article first shows the ambivalence of social meanings attached to the hotel uniform et parceived by those who wear it. It then shows that the uniform represents both the support and the clue of adjustment by dress code socialization. This socialization consists in learning the luxury service trade through the wearing of uniform. Depending on their social backgrounds, workers are not equal in the acquisition of those know-hows. Finally, the article shows that these uses, socially situated and gendered, of a uniform that tends to become more informal are likely to recompose the male models of these workers.
n° 42/2019 – Ecofeminist practices
Viviane Albenga and Vanina Mozziconacci
Are all feminisms soluble in education? Theoretical hybridization and practical paradoxes of a sexist violence prevention program
Stereotype deconstruction has become a recurrent clue to the fight against inequalities in the schooling system. That measure can be understood as inspired by libertarian or “egalitarian” feminism. However, implementation of the political and theoretical principles of this feminism can lead to a number of dead-ends, which are directly linked to the concept of gender inherent to this model, focused on gendered roles and the individual ladder. Materialist feminism, inasmuch as it apprehends gender as a dividing and hierarchical macrosocial system, seems to avoid those theoretical drawbacks that characterize the liberal model. However, what does it result in when applied, and what are its practical consequences in the field of education? The study of a sexist violence prevention program run by Violence against women watch of the Seine-Saint-Denis county shows that adopting materialist feminism brings female educators who promote gender equality to make adjustments. A number of hybridizations are thus created on the field in which feminist perspectives are combined to clearly divergent assumptions.
Articulating ecology and feminism in the 1970s. The example of the non-violent center of Circauds
One usually remembers the absence of an ecofeminist movement in France and the weak adhesion of French people to the fight against nuclear weapons in the 1980s. However, the local approach of the Circauds center, a training center for non-violence created at the beginning of the 1970s, makes it possible to analyze the diffusion and the imbrication of feminism and ecology in spaces around social movements. This article focuses on summer camps that were organized as non-coed by the women of the center between 1976 and 1978, and the role they played in the emergence of a European, feminist and pacifist movement and in the spreading of an ecofeminist sensibility that added a critical approach to gender relations to the criticism of modernity, a practice of medicine perceived as male, the pharmaceutical industry and capitalism. This analysis of the ecological and feminist press, just as the interviews of ex-Circauds members, reveals heterodox feminist practices and everyday DIY solutions that solve the contradictions of the women which, in the 1970s, wanted to merge their various commitments.
Politics of female work under the occupation of France by the Germans
This article approaches the history of French female work under war occupation through integration to the German economy of war. The work policy of having French women work for Germany worried the Vichy government, since it clearly counters their restoration project of family order. From Germany’s point of view, this recruitment policy of a foreign labor force preserves gender relations in Germany by shifting the weight of war production on foreigners’ shoulders. When tensions around labor force provision intensify, the question of French women’s forced recruitment arises, but it is finally pushed away, and a constrained work policy is applied to women in France. This study highlights how interesting it si to take a transnational approach when taping gender work politics.
Self-gynecology: ecofeminism and intersectionality
We present a monographic study of a network of practitioners of self-gynecology in the Paris area, counting women aged 20 to 40 who belong to a new generation which could be described as intersectional feminist. What is at stake here is showing how intersectional feminists can make ecofeminist paradigms their own through speeches as well as practice. For this new generation, the practice of self-gynecology is actually difficult to claim: centered on female genital organs, it can induce that “the woman” defines herself in reference to anatomy and is therefore accused of essentialism by intersectional feminists who have wished to go beyond gender deconstruction of the 1970s. The case of this self-gynecology network, which manages to articulate this practice with an intersectional positioning, shows how ecofeminism can integrate theoretical and practical syncretisms. It mixes a revamping of feminist action to defend contraception and abortion, the contributions of the queer theory and of Black feminism, a certain vision of ecology, and sometimes an anti-capitalist engagement.
Thinking ecofeminism. Subsistence feminism and vernacular feminism
In order to highlight how some of the ecofeminist theoreticians conceptualize work in a capitalist regime, whether salaried, agricultural or domestic, subsistence feminism refers to a group of theoreticians such as Françoise d’Eaubonne, Marie Mies, Silvia Federici, Vandana Shiva and Starhawk, who all link feminism, activism and implementation of ecological alternatives that are a form of vernacular feminism. This materialistic, but also spiritual approach to ecofeminism is based on anthropological and historical research that distinguish work producing self-consumed goods for both genders and female domestic work preparing industrialized goods in economic and political terms. Environmental destructions caused by industrialization of needs are correlated to the end of the last peasant societies of the South and the inequitable international labor division in the production of vital ressources, of which women are the first victims.
Working on the land and deconstructing heterosexism: ecofeminist experimentations
This article is based on the ethnography of three rural places (two farms and a lodging) managed by lesbian and/or queer women who rally an ecological and anti-capitalistic critique of society while questioning gender and sexual norms. It questions the meaning of these alternative life choices in reference to the actresses’ identities and the way they contribute to the understanding of the constellation of ecofeminist movements. We observe that moving from cities to the countryside, from salaried work to subsistence agriculture, they must implement new strategies to fight isolation and integrate locally. At the same time, this return to the land offers them new opportunities of emancipation, commitment and support from women and minorities. Agricultural work, feminist commitment and bringing politics into everyday life are different facets of a single project: that of looking for a fairer and more durable way for our society.
Planetary destruction, ecofeminists and transformative politics in the early 1980s
This paper aims to bring back a piece of history. It tells the story of thousands of women who gathered in peace camps and parades in the early 1980s in order to stake a feminist claim against nuclear warfare and the capitalist economics of destruction. It takes a close look at the first ecofeminist gathering in Amherst (1979) and the ensuing Three Mile Island Parades (’80), Pentagon Actions in Washington DC (’80 & ‘81) and San Francisco (’81). It also examines women’s peace camps, in particular those of Greenham Common near Newbury, England (‘81-’87), of Puget Sound, Washington and of Seneca, New York (1983). Rather than arguing the importance of these protests, the paper describes them. The paper draws on the protestors’ testimonies using their own published writings and archival data to show how ecofeminism is above all an innovative, transformative and life-affirming way of doing politics. The paper emphasizes emotions, not only of anger and fear but also of joy, and shows how these emotions fueled the protests. It revives the enthusiasm of crowds and small groups resisting together while paying attention to the clever organizing that allowed these women to gather in the first place. In sum, the paper excavates and details the story of the ecofeminist camps and parades so that we may learn from them for political action today.
N° 39/2018 – Working-Class Households
Mireya Diaz, Argentinian Sherperd and Senator
Lise Bernard and Christophe Giraud
Blue- and White-Collar Women: Who Are Their Domestic Partners?
This article shows that the married life of men and women from the working class has undergone several transformations since the beginning of the 1980s: increased distance to matrimonial life, important reduction of the number of couples comprising a male worker and an inactive woman, as well of marriage among employees. This article also contributes to the analysis of the present diversity of women in the working class through a study of matrimonial unions. It notably highlights the existence of a stratification within different categories of workers and employees: the “top” comprises women with multiple resources, who tend to marry men with higher social positions, and the “bottom”, partners that are both highly precarious. Among them, workers, trade employees, unskilled workers that count fewer and fewer women.
Professional Equality Consultancy: Which Companies?
In the years 2000, a new professional activity developed in France: the equal opportunity consultancy. It gathers service providers that accompany organizations that wish to internally promote this notion. This article apprehends these protagonists from the gender perspective, in order to explore a paradox that has already been observed in other contexts: within a social space that is structured by gender, those who promote equality tend to (re)produce the very inequalities they ambition to fight. Focusing on a particular category of providers, that of women who create activity, the analysis sheds light on a complex articulation between a subversive logic and a logic of gender reproduction.
“Resistable” Feminization? The Recruitment of Policewomen
The decision to open the entrance exam for the police to women, and then the official suppression of quotas limiting their recruitment, have broadly contributed to the feminization of the French National Police Force. However, women’s representation is still very low. If the morphology of this institution does not change much, it is first and foremost because female candidatures are scarcer than male ones: socially improbable, they continue to represent a transgression that requires special features and dispositions. It is also because recruitment practices impose a higher entrance fee on women than on men, while favoring the female candidates with a capacity to play the game and submit to the rules of a virile model that remains dominant within the institution.
Marie Cartier, Muriel Letrait and Matéo Sorin
Domestic Work: Is the Working Class Conservative?
This article studies the way in which men and women from the working class perceive the unequal division of domestic work and react to it. Based both on statistical data and on 17 monographies of heterosexual couples with children, it argues that the historical period between the 1980s and today is less characterized by a permanent and positive attachment of the working class to a strict division of gendered roles than by a slow differentiation of conceptions in the field of domestic work within those classes. Attachment to a strict gendered division of labor is mostly found among the most destitute layers. Stabilized households of the working class tend to forsake this division through a modest, but accrued participation of male workers and employees.
“Me Time”: Blue- and White-Collar Women Spending Time for Themselves
Do today’s female workers and employees benefit from personal time, free from family and professional burdens? If women’s personal time is frequently invaded by family, the analysis should not be limited to assessing the strength of the « we » in the working class: often times, the « I » clearly dominates. While showing inequalities between women from the working class and other women in the access to personal time, this article spots free time activities that they use to find personal fulfillment. It highlights a standardization of personal time, id est, appropriation and normalization of the personal time norm in households of the working class. It shows that these women use personal time to set limits to their spouse and mother roles as well as well as to their low-level jobs.
Working-Class Women Between Continuity and Change
The article questions women’s role in families of the working class of contemporary French society, as well as the evolutions that had an impact on this role in the past decades. Sociological and historiographic literature has long highlighted the recurrent characteristics of this working class position in the 19th and 20th centuries. The monographies that were realized within the project « Working class today » show where that status is in French society nowadays. They reveal important transformations, whether in the operating mode of couples or in women’s aspirations, which shows that the nowadays’ working class does not only reproduce traditional lifestyles. These transformations coexist with continuities, which is also shown by the data. The article sums up those changes and permanences and examines how, under the influence of these phenomenons, women’s place in society evolves in working class families.
”Do It All” Mothers: Working-Class Educative Practices in Tension
In households that belong to the median and stabilized factions of the working class, tasks relative to children’s education are nearly completely taken care of by women, who must, in some cases, stand back from their professional life. These women are thus the first responsible for the transmission of educative norms that are supposed to help their children succeed: strict bedtime hours, a healthy diet, homework supervision, follow-up on extracurricular activities. However, since these norms stem from the ruling classes, applying them has a cost for these women, and that cost is a reminder of the discrepancy between the norms and the resources these women can use to set them up. Only when they get closer to working class practices can they relax and have a happier time with their families.
N° 40/2018 – 2017 French presidentials – Women, men and vote
Pinar Selek, a Life Lived in Exile
Catherine Achin and Sandrine Lévêque
Mind the gap! From the gender variable to the gender of voting
This article consists of a critical review of the analyses of the electoral gender gap within occidental democracies. It advocates for a global accountancy of the gender impact on political behavior, questioning the reproduction conditions of a different approach to politics among women and men. It sketches a few theoretical and methodological leads, adopting a reflexive posture on methods and surveying relations, working on social integration and the meanings of vote, analyzing the continuous political socialization processes and the interconnection of gender and other social power relations.
Martin Baloge and Marie-Ange Grégory
Socialization process analysis usually focuses on child-parent relations within peer groups. In this article, this process is analyzed within the couple, deciphering what the couple does to the voting and vice versa. The study is based on quantitative data stemming from a questionnaire administered right outside the ballot box during the 2017 French presidential election, as well as on interviews carried out in four sessions among individuals in heterosexual couples. The influence of the couple in the forming of political opinions must be thought out in relation to other variables (in particular class, age and political inheritage). It must also be studied within its environment by taking into consideration each spouse’s networks in a dynamic approach to « careers ».
Lorenzo Barrault-Stella, Clémentine Berjaud and Safia Dahani
Voting practices between class, gender and race
This article intensely analyzes the voting practices of three women from the working class in ethnically diverse neighborhoods in 2017. Thanks to observations in the neighborhood before, during and after the voting, the localized analysis within a very segregated neighborhood renders their contrasted votes within the very conditions of their production, revealing the weight of class and gender membership and race-related social relations. Although these three women, who live in the same residential context, vote for very diverse candidates, politically speaking (from the National Front to the Socialist party), in all three cases, their positions within the local working class, their female condition, their relations inside their family, their ethnic and racial (and religious) characteristics all say something about not only their statistically improbable electoral mobilization, but also the variability of their voting practices, which tends to be related to differentiated and conflicting social relations within the neighborhood.
Male autonomy, female job insecurity. Sales representatives paid on commission
This article focuses on sales representatives paid on commission. These workers benefit from a strong autonomy, but their uncertain income makes them similar to self-employed workers. As a consequence, men and women have distinct professional practices and relations to work. Whereas men consider their autonomy as an opportunity to put their all in their work in order to earn high salaries and ensure their social advancement, women use it to balance their professional and family lives, which enables them to earn a salary and to reenter the workplace. Those differences stem from « couple arrangements » that, in the end, contribute to reinforcing gender inequalities, strengthening men’s status as the breadwinners and women’s status as the low wage earners.
Women’s vote in favor of Marine Le Pen.
Between generational impact and socio-professional job insecurity
Has women’s vote for the National front (the French extreme right wing political party) become commonplace? What makes it special? Which women choose Marine Le Pen ? This article is based on the processing of questionnaires right outside the ballot box that were collected for the ALCoV survey [i] during the second round of the 2017 presidential election. This data is mobilized to question the disappearance of a « radical right gender gap » in favor of a « gender generation gap » that would explain the supposed propensity young women have to choose an extreme-right-wing candidate. Beyond age and gender, however, the different stages of a woman’s life explain why women can choose the National front more often than men do, dependent as they are on their families and their social and professional environments. The National front’s ability to attract those categories that vote least is probably one of the reasons why it failed at the past elections.
Work, gender and vote
Pioneer in the field of gendered vote analysis, Janine Mossuz-Lavau looks back on her research path and on her investment in this theme since her work on women’s voting patterns at the Cevipof, the political research center of Sciences Politiques Paris, with Mariette Sineau.
Ordinary violence. A case of sexual violence on an under-18 in the artistic milieu
The ordinary is a frequent theme in studies on gendered violence. Based on a case of sexual violence on an under-18, this article aims at defining what is at stake. It first shows that the notion of ordinary, which often means what is common to all women, needs more precise boundaries: in the case under scrutiny, the artistic work, its vocational dimension, the increasingly personal relations between a professor and a student, the trade entrance cost for women are decisive elements. In feminist studies, the ordinary also refers to facts of violence that are characteristic of women’s daily lives. By distinguishing facts, situation and qualification, the article shows that qualifying an event as violent implies a feeling of abnormality and a reflexivity that are usually not there in situations of gendered violence. This discrepancy explains the uncertainty that is often inherent to the qualification of violence and how enigmatic violence situations are in retrospect. Thus, rather than to the occulting truth, the ordinary within violence refers to a type of experience in which abuse and aggression are integrated to the course of life and are normalized by the protagonists.
[i] Projet ANR ALCoV – Localised Comparative Voting Analysis: defiance, abstention and political radicalization in contemporary France.
N° 37/2017 – Childfree. Women’s Perspectives
Jenny Jones, a Pilot in Control
The Choice to Remain Childfree, the Ultimate Liberation?
In a majority of advanced countries, the number of childless men and women has increased, at least if one considers the short term. Among them, we shall focus on those who voluntarily declare themselves childless. We will question their sociological profile, their motivation and what explanation can be given to this phenomenon. Furthermore, we will show that it goes together with a legitimization claim founded on freedom of choice and equal treatment of parents and non-parents.
Audre Lorde, An Outsider. The Education of an African-American Poet and Feminist Intellectual
This article is about Audre Lorde, a poet and a high profile in the history of Afro-American lesbian and feminist struggles and thought processes of the 20th century. Based on her childhood and youth, I try to understand how she has built herself as an intellectual, in the USA context of a segregationist system that limits the access of Black populations in general – and Black women especially – to a certain number of rights, to education and to work (especially qualified positions et top intellectual professions). On the basis of (auto)biographical material, I strive to reveal her training course within her social and historical context, according to a working framework that articulates the interconnected social relationships at play (class, race, gender).
Michaela Kreyenfeld et Dirk Konietzka
A Child or a Job? The Dilemna of Women from Eastern and Western Germany
In East Germany, before reunification, less than 10% women remained childless, whereas in West Germany, their percentage had increased regularly until it reached 20%. This article focuses on these divergent evolutions using the data of a micro-census. It studies social policies that had an impact on women’s employment and on family models before unification took place. It also studies other, more recent tendencies and reforms, especially how care structures for young children developed and how parental leave benefit was reformed in 2007. If family and employment models in the East and the west converged in reunified Germany, behavioral discrepancies remain. Still today, it is more frequent for a woman not to have children in the West rather than in the East of the country. Furthermore, East German women usually work full time whereas the rate of West German mothers working full time increases rather slowly.
Market Sellers in La Paz and Roubaix
Confronting two ethnographic enquiries on markets in La Paz on the one hand and in Roubaix on the other hand illustrates how gendered social relations fit in a complex structure of ethnic, professional and gender identifications, taking age and level of instruction into account. At La Paz, markets are held almost exclusively by migrant, often illiterate women that are in charge of the family budget ; masculinization of street commerce in the 1980s met with women’s will to preserve their quasi monopoly. In Roubaix, the markets are held by a vast majority of men of North African origin that are excluded from the salaried labor market. Women are a small minority, they are unqualified and most often the only one in charge of the family budget. In both cases, the market turns out to be a non-wage type of work that emancipates women from men.
« I Will Never Be a Housewife ». Voluntary Childlesness in Sweden
One usually explains the decision of some women not to have children by existing inequalities between men and women in the fields of domestic and parental work, as well as by considerations linked to women’s professional careers. This article investigates whether the perception of gender inequalities on the labor market and in the private sphere could be one of the underlying reasons for maternity refusal among certain women in Sweden, one of the countries where equality between men and women is most advanced. The article is based on a series of interviews with Swedish women who chose not to have children. The way in which they link their decision to gender inequality in their society, in both the professional field and the family field, is analyzed, as well as the degree to which this lack of equality influenced their refusal of maternity. For the women interrogated, maternity threatens their equality of status on the labor market as well as their relationship to men.
N° 38/2017 – Surrogacy in Debate
Souad Triki, a Pro-Democracy Feminist in Tunisia
Asserting and Contesting Gender in Professional High-Schools
On the basis of the data of an ethnographical survey carried out in three vocational high schools of relatively segregated and empoverished Parisian close suburbs, this article analyzes the way in which the relations between peer students of the same gender and of opposite genders intertwine. We will first show that these relations are conditioned by a gendered assignment game that reminds girls and boys of a traditional gender order. We will then consider, based on concrete situations that are similar in several ways, some of the displacement, reversing, and subversion modes of this gender order, especially those used by girls.
Gender and Journalistic Practices in the Mountain-Biking press
Mélie Fraysse and Christine Mennesson
This article focuses on the different ways in which to create gender in a context in which male domination is at its fullest: the mountain bike specialized press. By resorting to the concepts of « system of management » and « hegemonic masculinity » [Connell, 1983 ; 1987], the different forms of « journalistic » masculinities and feminities are analyzed that one can find among editorial staff of mountain bike specialized press. The purpose is also to study the social conditions that prevail to their construction. If the system of management under study fosters hegemonic masculinity and emphasized feminine identity, some of the surveyed employees adopt professional practices that question those gender models. Professional socialization plays a key role in that process.
The Moral Accessibility of surrogacy.
Using What Can Be Learned fort Surrogacy to Make It More Just
The debate about surrogacy, which is often a confused one, divides feminists at least as much as the debate about prostitution. This article concentrates on the argument of female autonomy present in this debate. It questions surrogacy in relation to the moral reasoning that legitimizes abortion, which is uncontested. In that perspective, anglophone literature is mostly resorted to. Surrogacy is principally analyzed as care work. The article shows that evaluation of its moral acceptability requires the complex notion of responsibility. This notion could answer the challenge of gender domination constraining our representations of maternity. It could also highlight the alienation risk that weighs upon the pregnant woman. It could, at last, be in charge of the structural unfair relations that prevail in the transboundary practice of surrogacy.
Balls in Franco’s Spain: A Game of Love but Not Chance
If a night dance can be first thought of as a frivolous festive event destined to youth, it actually is a particular space in which to stage oneself, one that offers a productive access to the analysis of gendered behavioral norms and the functioning of the matrimonial market in the first half of the 20th century. By collecting life stories in various Spanish regions, it came as a surprise that all women born in the 1930s recollected this event while remembering their youth. The interview study shows that the night dance is the first space in which men and women get into contact, allowing the future spouses to meet. Given what is at stake, the young women’s attitude is strictly normed and controlled by the unavoidable character of the chaperon.
Discrimination towards Gays in the Workplace in Switzerland
Lorena Parini and Anouk Lloren
This article stems from a research carried out in Switzerland in 2014-2015. It highlights the discrimination that homosexual persons experience on the workplace. Based on a questionnaire on the internet, the authors analyze forms and frequencies of homophobic behavior, as well as the impact of various social factors such as age, visibility, and the work environment (rather male, rather female or mixed). Results show that such discrimination is experienced by most homosexuals in Switzerland, often through verbal stigmatization, exclusion, moral and sexual harassment. The results are analyzed from a gendered perspective, which highlights the impotance of gendered norms in homophobic behavior.
Male Artistic Directors and Female Managers: a Gendered Division of Labor in Independent Theatre Companies
Cultural administrators perform the main tasks that enable (small) artistic companies to survive, but their work remains massively invisible. Those women are subordinated to artistic directors, men most of the time, who combine artistic legitimacy and social authority. Whereas their multiple tasks continue to be perceived through the prism of domestic activity, they conform to the requirements of artistic fields, among which those that lead to a confusion of time and social space. However, they do not benefit from the same material gratifications, and especially not from the symbolic ones, which are the monopoly of artists. Thus, while being led to accept a series of compromises, female administrators tend to reintroduce the rules and the principles of salaried society.
Why There Can Ben No Such Things as “Ethical” Surrogacy
Facing the drift of surrogacy practices, researchers, individuals and militant organizations plead for its regulation, referring to an « ethical » or « altruistic » surrogacy that would exclude any commercial relationship. This article analyzes the causes for the development of this practice, the social frameworks behind the surrogate mothers’ speeches, the words that are now used to erase them as mothers. It shows the effects of the set-up of a global surrogacy market. In the name of the refusal of the female body’s instrumentalization and of the child’s merchantization, the article shows that all that is « ethical » is the universal abolishment of that practice.
N° 36/2016 – Prowess and Risk
Claire Gibault, Conductor
Alain Chenu and Olivier Martin
The Glass Ceiling Among Academics in the Fields of Sociology and Demography
Feminization of French higher education is increasing: the field of sociology/demography illustrates this evolution, since in 2012, 44% of researchers/lecturers in sociology/demography are women, whereas the rate was of only 24% in 1984. However, this increasing feminization hides the persistence of a glass ceiling. This article shows its existence and tries to explain it. The careers of researchers/lecturers are therefore analyzed step by step (qualification, access to the body of senior lecturers, possibly qualification as a professor, possibly access to that body) thanks to individual data regarding the 1984-2013 period. If access to the body of senior lecturers does not seem (or no longer seems) unfavorable to women, such is not the case for access to the body of university professors: senior lecturers meet the glass ceiling is on their way to the status of university professor.
Antoine Duarte and Isabelle Gernet
Heroism and Coping Mechanisms Among Ski Patrollers
Based on clinical research in psychodynamics initiated after the deadly accident of a first-aid worker in a ski resort, this article questions the links between collective defences structured by virility and a woman’s battle to defend her identity. According to the authors, these links can only be understood if the mental processes at stake are highlighted when one is confronted with work constraints. In order to do so, they discuss the case of Alexandra, the only woman to hold this risky job in a male group.
Angèle Grövel and Jasmina Stevanovic
Beware, Women on Board!
Perils of Feminization Among Officers of the Merchant Marine
The profession of merchant navy officer is considered and experienced as a high-risk profession. Navigation on merchant ships involves two types of danger: the first are generated by sea, an unpredictable element by nature ; the second proceed from a lenghty immersion of a crew inside a closed and restrained space. The exclusively male line-up of the crew was, until recently, one of the characteristics of this profession. Recent feminization is either considered a tool to maintain gender hierarchy or perceived as a threat that must be mastered. Based on two surveys carried among (male or female) officers, this article questions the use and the impact of feminization on high-risk relations and behavior aboard the ships.
Becoming a Circus Performer: The Appenticeship of Risk
Risk is central to circus activities, particularly because these activities put the artist’s bodily integrity at stake. So-called high-risk physical activities are based on eminently male values and norms, but the circus is a space that is both relatively mixed and clearly gendered, so it is worth questioning the learning experiences of relations to risk as organizational principles of professional socialization of male and female learners. How does one become a circus artist in the light of these professional risks? All through their training, students strive to adjust around three objects of socialization which emerge from their testimonies : (re)defining professional risks, learning to manage bodily risks, and building a posture as circus artists.
Female Coach Drivers: The Performance of Risk
In Paris, on February 21, 1907, several dozens of photographers and journalists jostled each other to be the first clients of the two first coachwomen in Paris. As early as 1906, coachwomen, then trainees, already inspired many reports and became characters in variety shows, satirical drawings and the first movies of Pathé and Gaumont. This article collates this proliferation of visual and mediatic archives on the subject of « the coachwoman », with archives of the registry office, of the census, of city and police statistics in order to determine the process by which those women, often of rural, working-class origin, accessed a corporation perceived as male because of its statistical composition and of its social identity. The risk and prowess staged in this coachwomen’s show, which was mostly destined to entertain a bourgeois audience, is then collated with what these particularly visible and exposed workers actually did risk as a female minority within a male trade.
Female War Correspondents
This study questions the effectiveness of feminization of journalistic reports in the field of conflicts, the resistance of the male myth in this activity, the persisting differentiated roles and gendered assignations, and the balance of commitment and gain in terms of professional and personal careers. If it appears that although nowadays, war reporters are often women, the gender dynamic, a process of differentiation and prioritization of identities, is still at work, penalizing women. This study, based on a historical knowledge of journalism and news reporting, stems from an interview-based inquiry among twenty or so news reporters in France.
N° 35/2016 – Women in Power
Liu Lu, the Daily Worries of a Chinese Female Agricultural Laborer
Anne-Françoise Bender, Rey Dang et Marie José Scotto
Women on Boards of Directors in France
In this article, we study the variables that indicate human capital and social capital of female and male members of governing boards of companies on the stock exchange in 2013, two years after the quota law was promulgated. Relying on previous studies in France and in the United States, we compare demographic profiles, educational profiles and professional experience of the 1250 women and men members of the boards of companies on the stock exchange in 2013. Our results show that women have training and professional careers that are close to that of men, as shown by the results of a similar study that we carried out on 2010 data. However, differences do persist between men and women as to the nature of professional experience and the type of mandate. Explanations and possible consequences of those results are discussed in the article.
Female Survivors : The Unlikely Dispositions of Women Managers in the Financial Sector
Being a female top manager in the financial profession of mergings and acquisitions is the result of a double achievement : entering and remaining in a profession explicitely marked as male, and reaching the highest positions. This article highlights this achievement on the basis of a large survey combining a database of mergings and acquisitions actors in 2010, biographic interviews, and work observations. It shows how the professional ethos of the group, explicitely male, acts as a fence by restraining female access to top positions. This access therefore depends on a rather improbable combination of dispositions that enable them to adapt to this male professional ethos.
Alban Jacquemart, Fanny Le Mancq and Sophie Pochic
Female High Civil Servants in France, the Birth of an Elitist Equality
A product of the diffusion of an « equal representation grammar », professional equality policies were recently developed in the public service. Based on a survey among the employees of the ministry of finance, this article highlights the selective opportunities offered by these elitist policies: a small minority of women, socially homogenous, often stemming from the “Ecole Nationale d’Administration”, or ENA, can manage to pass the glass ceiling, providing that they show their devotion to their administration and to public management, and accept time-consuming jobs ; at the same time, State reforms and reinforced competition for top jobs fragilize possibilities for female managers to move up the ladder professionally in deconcentrated administrations, among female managers not from the ENA, and among those from less privileged social backgrounds.
Wage Crumbs: Work Commitment and the Unemployed
Based on an empirical survey among male and female workers assigned to a temporary work program in French-speaking Swiss, the article questions the reasons why the job is granted in a work context on the fringes of salaried staff. Access to biographic trajectories and to personal experience shows that the constraining dimension of these professional insertion measures does not completely explain commitment to work of jobless people : the reasons mentioned by individuals are always multiple, articulating material and symbolic dimensions. Mobilizing a gender perspective reveals the different balances of power that unemployed women are submitted to in the professional sphere as well as in the personal one. It questions gendered issues that underline the commitment to such programs, particularly the threat of a return to inactivity.
The Low Horizon of Business Confederations
This article analyzes women’s role in employer organizations. After having shown how to enter employer organizations, a diagnosis of women’s role shows that female entrepreneurs are widely underrepresented: whether the mandates are internal or external, they hit a « lead sky » and hold less than 15% of positions of responsibility. Establishing the « quantified proof » of female underrepresentation in that space helps to understand how that space fonctions, for example by revealing the power struggle to access certain mandates, and more broadly through gendered division of employer organization work. In employer organizations, what has been noted in other political organizations is accentuated, women being limited to social mandates and less prestigious mandates. Those important inequalities do not seem to bother employer organizations.
Women Conductors: The Pioneer Days Are Not Over!
If music remains, on the whole, the least feminized field among art crafts and artistic interpretation, conducting a symphony orchestra is a paroxystic example of that fact. Women conductors remain extremely rare. Most of all, they have a difficult time fitting in and being recognized as genuine conductors. Studying this world of power, extremely hierarchical and very « masculine », still resisting the arrival of women musicians, reveals what is symbolically at stake in the power to create. It questions the way in which gender crosses the fields of power, as it does any work or learning environment, and – paradoxically ? – the fields of creation. It also reveals how the gender of very sexed practices progressively changes.
N° 34/2015 – Bodies in Thrall
Michèle Reverdy, A Composer No Matter What
Gilles Combaz and Christine Burgevin
School Principals in France
In France, since the beginning of the years 2000, a number of legislative measures were taken to promote women’s access to executive positions in the professional world. Available date show that for the time being, this objective is far from being reached, especially among the executive positions of civil service. However, evolution is different when it comes to access to less prestigious positions. In that respect, it is important to check whether school management in primary education is a real opportunity for women. In order to do so, a triple methodological system was elaborated : an exhaustive survey of 22 French departments showed the gender distribution of various positions at the primary school level ; a national enquiry by questionnaire and a series of 28 interviews were realized to accurately comprehend social determining factors to reach executive positions.
Delphine Gardey and Iulia Hasdeu
This Obscure Object of Desire
The Medicalization of Female Sexual Disorders in the West
This article deals with the conceptualization of female sexuality in the Western world from the mid-19th century to nowadays. It recounts how knowledge and medical experience describe female desire and female sexuality, as well as their failings and dysfunctions. From objects of desire, women turn into subjects one day. It becomes possible to claim female desire and pleasure as a fact, a good and a right. The notions of « dysfunctions » and « failings » rise once the normality of female pleasure is admitted, i.e. after the 1970s. Moving from past to present, medicalization of sexuality is scrutinized, questioning certain circularities in speech and in practice. It also highlights the role attributed to biology and culture, to physiology or to « psyche » in the definition of female sexuality in the Western world. The contemporary biological model of sexuality, and the way in which it contributes to define the intimate and the social spheres, is also characterized.
Measuring Puberty. Medicalization of Adolescence, Switzerland, 1950-1970
Between 1954 and the end of the 1970s, a longitudinal study of the growth and development of a so-called normal child was carried out in Zurich. Measured, photographed, x-rayed, about 300 boys and girls of the city of Zurich then participated, and for more than twenty years, to one the first studies of that nature in Europe. It firstly reminds us of the particular context in which studies were initiated that described, but mostly quantified and statistically evaluated the human body and its development. Then, mostly through the example of two artefacts that allow puberty to be evaluated, the Tanner stages and the Prader orchidometer, it discusses how such research contributes to the production of puberty as a scientific and medical object and the establishment of developmental norms, thus taking part in the surveillance of reproductive bodies.
Biopolitics of IUD
Strategies in the Global South
Drawing on examples from iud users in China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Nigeria, this article examines the variety of ways in which women in the global South have negotiated reproductive agency with the help of or by refusing the contraceptive device. Reproductive objectives and actions of women in the global South are shaped by competing pressures from family, economic reality, and gender roles as well as by pervasive patriarchal values and neo-Malthusian state population policy. As a long-acting, provider-controlled, easily-reversal, and inconspicuous contraceptive method, the iud has been appropriated by both feminist and anti-feminist actors. This article highlights individual cases in which the contraceptive device played an instrumental role in improving a woman’s ability to take control of her reproductive life in a place where female agency is severely constricted.
Migrant Women’s Sexes. Excised in the South, Repaired in the North
Originally defined as a public health problem, excision of the clitoris becomes the object of a policy of sexuality reparation in the years 2000. The genealogy of this new crime (sexual mutilations) and the emergence of a new handicap (sexuality without a clitoris) are explored in a postcolonial perspective that makes cognitive environments of « here » and « there » interact. A social norm framed within a ritual (excision) turns into a bodily anomaly (mutilation), or even a sexual anomaly (handicap). This article relates personal and sexual experiences of migrant women and of daughters of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa who live in France and have asked for a clitoral reconstruction in a French hospital. The trajectories of these two groups are studies in a globalization context that takes migratory dynamics into account : medicine dominates circulation of knowledge and materializes into a litigious justice that makes equality in gender models real through bodily and sexual repair.
The Invention of Psychoprophylaxis in France, 1950-1980
The psychoprophylactic method of natural childbirth, developed in the Soviet Union, was introduced in France at the beginning of the 1950s by doctors close to the French Communist party. Its medical goal – to suppress pain without resorting to drugs by teaching women how to give birth – was coupled with the political objective to participate in the realization of a Socialist society. Despite its high ambitions, this method did not rely on the latest technology, but on modest techniques and on common operations. These techniques did not result in the completion of the medical objective (to eradicate pain), neither did they achieve the political one (to change society). However, they had an important and durable impact by reinforcing professional authority on pregnant women and by imposing their acculturation to medical practices. The study of psychoprophylaxis questions the history of birth beyond the classical opposition between, on the one hand, instruments, technologies and pharmacological producs that are thought to be responsible for medicalization of birth and instrumentalization of women’s bodies, and on the other hand, techniques that are more « natural » and are supposed to both offer an alternative to medicalization and respect women’s autonomy.
N° 33/2015 – Gender and the City
Estrella, a Migrant in Buenos Aires. The Itinerary of a Care Worker
Stéphane Le Lay
Garbage Collector in Paris
The profession of garbage collector in Paris, although classified as an unskilled work, cannot be understood without the analysis of those dimensions partly ignored within professional qualifications, although they inform about the « social drama at work » of activities belonging to the public service, or to the service referred to the public. However, these relation-based and affective dimensions are under the scrutiny of the city hall, as a consequence of two major political dynamics. The first one is linked to the recrutement of women, an opening that brought about changes in the work process. The second one stems from stronger demands in the area of cleanliness: agents are expected to render a higher quality work and an increased attention to the « image of the city ». Thus, the profession of garbage collector questions, in its own way, the de-segregation process of the working class, forming a « service worker » figure that is typical of present working classes.
Gendering the Metropolis
Urban and territorial questions do not give space to the gender approach regularly enough. Usually associated with a societal debate, the question of gender would not fit in the conceptuallization of the urban and metropolitan reality, at least in the French conception of territorial and urban policies, both reflexive and operational. The way one « makes a stand » and is authorized to do so in contemporary urban forms shows that the question of gender embraces the history of social urban fights, but also a contemporary public action brought about by ideologies of urban well-being, of urban ecology. This article identifies the joint effects of feminist and ecological ideals in the present field of urban conception. The analysis of the use of natural spaces in the city of Grenoble shows the impact of an androcentered and heteronormative approach to natural spaces, be it in the fields of practice, representations or management of these sites.
Speaking At Plenary Sessions
This article analyzes women’s and men’s interventions during plenary sessions of three local political institutions. The objective is to understand to which extent oral intervention, which plays a central role in the acquisition of the legitimacy needed to be an elected representative, differ according to gender. Interactions are observed, oral interventions are quantified, and interviews are carried out about this oratorical exercise. The cost of intervening is higher for women than it is for men. This difference is accentuated in joint assemblies. Women’s greatest difficulties lead them to summon up alternative behavior which varies according to political experience.
Sustainable, but Unequal: The City
This article interrogates urban projects on which a consensus seems to have been reached among European cities (penalizing intra-city traffic, encouraging motorized two-wheels, bicycling, walking, tramway and other public transportation, car pooling) from the point of view of gender inequalities, based on a series of researches carried out in Bordeaux, France. Indeed, the analysis of an enquiry on mobilities shows that women would be discriminated against by these measures because of the tasks that are reserved for them (accompanying children and the elderly, shopping, etc.), their being less skilled at alternative mobilities, and their feeling vulnerable in public space (fear of aggression in certain neighborhoods and at night). Who benefits from the sustainable city? How and where are new usages decided? How are behavioral changes obtained that are necessary to this transition to a city that developers describe as soft, peaceful, beautiful, at rest? This article puts forward the hypothesis that good practice within the sustainable city strongly resembles the new clothes of male domination.
Gender Stereotypes in the Practice of Urban Planning
Traditionally, « inclusive » resource planning and development projects aimed at « vulnerable groups » as decorations rather than actors. In the 1990s, European feminist researchers and urbanists developed new methods to compensate for this. Evaluation of new approaches to planning, based on the « integrated approach to equality », shows, however, a limited coverage of gender that calls for some explanation. This contribution examines, among urban development professions, stereotypes linked to gender and the hypotheses that can reinforce gendered roles. It discusses four types of strategies within integrated policies of gender equality. They stress the impact of gendered codes in practice, for example on density, mixed use of streets, but also services, security and accessibility. On the other hand, the article highlights how potential approaches sensitive to gender can serve as innovative forces for urban research or relations between social and spatial dynamics.
n° 31/2014 Teaching Gender
Janine Caillot, Lejaby : The Desire of Doing Unstitching
Tania Angeloff and Céline Bessière, with the participation of Arnaud Bonduelle, Jéromine Dabert and Gaston Laval
Teaching Gender: A Duty to Dissent
This article deals with the teaching of gender, introduced at the Master 1 level of a Parisian university, Paris-Dauphine, specialized in economy, management and finance. Its specificity is to confront the points of view of the two professors who originated this introductive course to gender in sociology with that of three students of the previous year who accepted to take part, with reflexivity, in this retrospective exercise. It taps the following question: what does gender do to students? And reversely, what do students do with a teaching such as that of gender, within the framework of a rather generalist training in social sciences? Far from a theoretical article, concrete student testimonies question pedagogy of gender in sociology, its scientific and political implications, limits and (de)legitimization. In this polyphonic document, Tania Angeloff and Céline Bessière try to reflect on their practice of gender teaching – a marginal practice in the institutional context – and to put into perspective three individual students’ testimonies, one of which is very critical.
Xavier Cinçon and Agnès Terrieux
Replacing Female Farmers: A History of Maternity Leave in Agriculture
The history of maternity leave is that of a social policy that serves male interests through gendered public action tools. The forced recourse to agricultural replacement services, basically thought out for male farmers, was reinforced by a procedure that subordinates the use of that service to the farm manager’s decision. This resulted in the opportunistic capture by the farm manager of the workforce destined to replace his spouse. It contributed to exclude the latter from a service that was meant for her and that furnished development resources to the replacement activity. Therefore, replacement services then worked on improving this right of female farmers, coming into the place of female spokespersons, with the aim to consolidate a pension that is indispensable to their professionalization.
Érika Flahault, Annie Dussuet and Dominique Loiseau
Non-Profit Employment, Feminism and Gender
Feminism in the 1970s lead to the birth of associative networks that have become necessary nowadays: Family Planning, Information Center on Rights of Women and Families, Women’s National Federation for Solidarity. These networks defend women and stand up for their rights, performing a public service duty, thanks to the employment of mostly female workers. On the basis of a monographic survey among structures belonging to the network, we will show that although precarious working conditions are often observed, they must be compared to the working conditions that women experience in other economic sectors. In other words, it seems that, paradoxically, these feminist organizations simply reproduce employment norms structured by gender.
Teaching Gender, a Unique Experience
This article offers food for thought from a singular experience, that of teaching gender at the university. The present analysis of the institutionalisation process mostly stems from the first French professional training on gender. It is centered around social policy analysis in the context of gendered social relationships. This training was created twenty years ago by university and professional colleagues who were pioneers within a sociology department. While keeping in mind that gender is a whole lot more than a teaching by its scientific, symbolic and political spans, we will focus on the genesis of this collective history, realizations and conquests in a context of opportunities, and true challenges to be met. The social impact of the implementation of a professional master or the importance of gender outside the university will also be tapped, as well as the social impact of implementing a professional master and the importance of gender outside the university, especially with regard to the present dynamic around the question of equality between men and women.
Women’s History, History of Gender
This article recalls that in the 1970s, at the university Paris Diderot, creating the first classes about women brought about the first research and knowledge production, since women were absent from academic history. Therefore, they had to be made visible, and new sources and methods were needed to create new knowledge. Researchers quickly evolved from women’s history to the history of gender, claiming that the women’s history could not be built without reflecting on their relation to the other sex. These historians developed their research while exchanging with sociologists in Anglo-American studies and with American female historians, particularly those working on France. This article testifies how much enthusiasm this pioneer time could trigger.
What Remains of our Courses on Gender?
Through a reflection on my own pedagogical practice in the Gender Studies classroom in a small college in New England, I evaluate the narrative of the United States as the Mecca of Gender Studies worldwide. While the field appears to be thriving here, looks may be deceiving. Most importantly, I examine the knowledge American students have about gender before entering and upon leaving the Gender Studies classroom. My analysis of my own experience reveals that most students arrive with essentialized notions of a heterosexual and binary gendered system, and that exposing them to massive doses of Judith Butler and Michel Foucault does little to disrupt these idées reçues. Toward the end of the article, I come to the conclusion that it is perhaps my own pedagogical style that needs to change, allowing students to carry out their own research on gender with original and contemporary sources, in order for them to understand not so much what gender is but what gender does.
Teacher Training: The Resistance to Gender
In October 2013, implementation of the abcd equality program took place in the tense context of the vote of the so-called « marriage for all » law. The media focused on pedagogic action to promote equality between girls and boys in the education system, some of which was already ancient. In the Lyon region, over the past 10 years, teachers follow a training session on gender issues and sex equality. Globally, these trainings are very well received, but sometimes also instigate resistance, despite the fact that on the one hand, teachers’ demand is very high, and on the other hand, they declare themselves very keen to promote girl/boy and women/men equality. This article is dedicated to the analysis of this paradox, offering both a typology of resistance modes and remediation paths.
n° 32/2014 Seen from Elsewhere
Maïssa Bey, Letters from Algeria
The Price of Commitment. Salaried Workers and Militants in Mexico
Following the un conferences in Cairo and Beijing (in 1994 and 1995), gender standards have emerged as an essential part of the Western democratic discourse that the Mexican government have formally endorsed. To conduct their new political agenda from a gender standpoint, the Mexican government and local authorities have largely turned to women’s groups and feminist organizations to develop new public policies to match global norms. ngo employees are frequently activists who add a strong feminist commitment to their daily work. This supplement of activist energy to reproductive health programs, sexual education programs and prevention of violence programs, which are subcontracted to non-governmental organizations by Mexican agencies and federal departments to downsize their operational costs. The ngo sector proved paradoxically essential in implementing low cost social programs with the support of activists. For employees it means a both liberating and precarious experience that this paper intends to document.
Women Take the Wheel
Whereas the generalization of automobile became a sociological field in the 1970s, analyses remained blind to gender differentiations. However, at that date, women were widely kept aside from this massification. Yet, women’s appropriation of the automobile has been ambivalent, questioning the meaning of converging mobility practices among men and women. If the automobile has often been thought of as a means of emancipation, it can also prolongate gendered roles within the household. Just as household goods can intensify domestic work instead of diminishing it, automobile can turn into a new domestic task. We will try to address that question by analyzing the driver’s licence generalization and the specificities of automobile use among women using data stemming from insee transportation surveys between 1980 and 2008.
Reconfiguration of Social Policies in Brazil
This article offers a social and historical reflection on the role of assistance in the present state of democracy in Brazil, linking it to women’s role within those « new » social policies. It analyzes the implementation of such policies at the local level in Sao Paulo, the country ‘s most dynamic metropolis. Starting from organizing the assistance field in Sao Paulo, this analysis investigates connections between the dilemmas that employees on the field are faced with while doing their work, as well as the importance of social mobility to understand the progress and limits of those « new » social policies. This article shows how access to employment, or even to a better social status, legitimize generalization of socially acceptable temporary work and justifiy institutionalized discrimination through « inclusive » public policies such as assistance.
The impact of mass employment has long been apprehended through male subjects. Women’s experience of work deprivation was long ill known and seldom studied. In this research among men and women who have been dismissed from closed up Moulinex factories in Normandy, France, experience of unemployment among women appears to be singular. In comparison that experienced by men, sufferance of unemployed women more often leads to health problems, social isolation and home and identity lock-ups. A for men, their higher chances of finding a job again as well as their higher ability to keep up their professional network preserve them from these feelings. The experience of unemployment cannot be summed up by job deprivation. It clearly induces ruptures in multiple fields, and especially in social health, relations and identity.
Lucie Schoch and Fabien Ohl
Women in Sports Journalism in Switzerland
This article presents the results of a socio-ethnic survey of the French-skeaking daily sports press. It reveals two ranges among sports journalists in the context of a feminization of this professional group: while men talk about a vocation for sports journalism, stemming from a passion for sports, women more often claim their love for writing and journalism. These contrasted vocations play a fundamental role in the gendered power relations within sports editorial offices: by building the legitimate definition of the profession around a passion for sports and by empeaching women journalists’ conversion through this professional socialization model, offices keep women subordinate and excluse them from decisional positions within editorial offices.
Portraits of Migrants in China
This article is based on an interview with a migrant woman in Yiwu, in the Zheiang province. Through the life story of a migrant retailer, we will try to better understand the migration from one rural zone to another and from the countryside to small towns. The professional and migratory paths of this migrant woman will also help us understand how migrants cumulate and articulate their economic ressources and use their network and competencies to insert themselves socially and economically.
N° 29, 2013 – Coping with Work
Maya Surduts: A Feminism of Struggle
Jyothsna Latha Belliappa
‘She Was Very Outgoing’: Sexual Harassment and Appropriate Female Behaviour
The Indian information technology industry is popularly believed to be a very hospitable employer for women. It is known for fairly progressive policies intended to include and retain women in its workforce and its strong stand against sex discrimination and harassment. However, in spite of written policies and procedures, cases of sexual harassment do occur and require investigation. This article explores women’s experiences of sexual harassment in the Indian information technology industry, juxtaposing these with managerial responses to harassment complaints. Using qualitative research it investigates how cultural ideals of Indian womanhood and prevalent norms of regarding women’s behaviour in public spaces can influence management’s attitudes to sexual harassment. Moreover, while few women can avoid being re-inscribed into gendered positions or being subjected to one form of gendered hostility or another, women in the management track have very different experiences of harassment from those in non-managerial positions. This difference in experience can influence responses to harassment complaints. The article concludes that while written policies and procedures may constitute a vital step towards creating a conducive work environment for women, they may not always be successful in protecting women from sexual harassment or from mitigating the influence of an andro-centric culture in the management’s or recipient’s response to sexual harassment.
Sandrine Caroly, Marie-Eve Major, Isabelle Probst and Anne-Françoise Molinié
The Type of Musculo-Skeletal Disorders
This article deals with the pertinence of an ergonomic study of economic activity to understand how work-related muscular-skeletal disorders come about, as well as on the strategies that women and men workers develop to deal with pain. After putting the phenomenon in a statistical framework, two cases of research and subsequent action highlight differences in exposition due to a gendered division of labour. The first case concerns men and women in the automotive industry and the second case concerns women in the food and agriculture industry. Taking gender into account in ergonomy sheds new light on work and on physical suffering at work.
Marianne De Troyer, Guy Lebeer and Esteban Martinez
Insecurity of Women Workers in the Cleaning Business in Belgium
Working conditions in the cleaning sector are difficult and constraining. They result from a combination of two factors: deregulations that stem from generalization of subcontracting and part-time work with variable time schedules, which especially effect women workers in the cleaning business. This article offers a number of answers – still rare and emergent – to questions raised by gender inequalities and precarious jobs, produced by the organization of work in this field of activity. Some of these answers can be considered to be collective, for they result from initiatives taken by labour and management in that sector. However, the last experience referred to results from a private and individual initiative, based on management’s awareness of particularly difficult working conditions in a cleaning company – and on the fact that they take such awareness into consideration – as well as the difficulties of women workers to conciliate professional and family obligations.
Karen Messing and Katherine Lippel
The Invisible That Hurts
Born from preoccupations of equality and trade union demands in the 1970s, partnerships between universities and trade unions led to training and research on the health of women workers in Quebec. Various themes emerged, including the recognition of particularly difficult and demanding tasks mostly performed by women, conciliation of women’s economic needs and their role in biological reproduction, obstacles to integrating and maintaining women in jobs as a whole, as well as the right to compensation for women suffering from work-related lesions. The study of several of those themes obliged researchers in ergonomics and law to reexamine the methods of – and the approaches to – their respective disciplines, trying to help women workers access professional equality while preserving their health.
Ivana Obradovic and François Beck
Young Women Under Influence
Is There a Feminization of the Public Affected by Cannabis Consumption in Social Assistance Structures?
Is there a feminization of the public effected by cannabis consumption in social assistance structures? In 2007, nearly 20% of those drug users encountered in the “consultations for young drug abusers” were women. The article describes the specificities of this female public, highlighting the structural differences with male users, considering socio-demographic factors, as well as currently used practices and motivations to consume. Female users, older on average, include higher proportions of those who spontaneously ask for help to reduce their drug consumption levels. Women welcomed in these assistance structures declare high levels of cannabis consumption, often more intensive than men’s and associated with consumption of several illicit substances or of psychotropic medication. Female consumption of cannabis is more motivated by “self-therapy” in an attempt to regulate anguish. In contrast, male users are mostly sent to these structures by the courts. They are usually between 18 and 25 years of age, are socially integrated, and explain their consumption by hedonistic considerations and by a context of sociability.
Livia Scheller, Liliana Cunha, Sónia Nogueira and Marianne Lacomblez
Women Drivers’ Working Time in France and Portugal
The studies in work psychology and ergonomics of the activity hereby presented compare the signs of a transformation of the work organization in public road transport professions. In a first study (in France), the arrival of women to a profession historically performed by men has indirectly led to a different representation of time, between the professional and domestic scope. On the other hand, a Portuguese study suggests that this fact may be parallel to a rather negative destabilization of the management of human labor. In what concerns working time, women seek in a more obvious way an adaptation of work to the activities of their « private » scope. The answer to their request is never direct; it exists occasionally. But its « cost » in terms of health and / or career is often obvious.
N°30, 2013 – Gender, Feminism and Trade Unionism
Yvonne Knibiehler, Maternity and Feminism
A Lower Glass Ceiling in the Public Sector?
Using the 2006 coi survey, which provides quantitative data comparing the private and public sectors, this article studies women in management positions in both sectors. It distinguishes management status, i.e. being a manager (or an A-level manager in the French public sector) and having managerial responsibilities, i.e. having authority over a team. The article shows that management in the public sector is much more feminized than that in the private sector. It also shows that female managers of the public sector have managerial responsibilities more often than in the private sector, their teams being larger on average. However, after processing the data, these results need to be slightly adjusted: it appears that even if access to management status is just as difficult for women in both sectors, women of the public sector are particularly at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing hierarchical responsibilities, being more experts than managers. Managerial functions being more and more valued in the public sector, the increasing difficulty women meet in managing teams is probably one of the explanations for the persisting glass ceiling that female managers encounter in the public sector.
A Female Unionization Campaign
This article outlines a unionization experience at the scale of a district and with very limited means in the sector of home help service. cgt militants take this initiative and make themselves available to circumvent the structural difficulties inherent to this highly feminized field: schedule partitioning, virtually no groupwork, weak valorization of qualifications, ambiguous relations to an associative employer. By organizing meetings outside work hours, these militants revive practices from the early times of trade unionism and track implementations, step by step. With almost no hierarchy, their action plans favor participation of female workers at the bottom of the social ladder, centering on forums where work in itself can be discussed. But this experience is possible only because it is, in a way, on the outskirts of trade union structures, thus reflecting a gendered militant work division.
Christophe Giraud and Jacques Rémy
Marital Work Division and Professional Legitimacy
This article deals with emerging new business activities in agriculture between professional identities and work division within couples. We highlight two diversification types: the first one, discontinuous with agricultural central activities (direct trade, transformation, tourist information), mostly relates to women farmers; the second one, continuous with the agricultural core business (agricultural contract work, agro-environmental activities), mostly relates to the farm manager. The concept of agricultural occupation remains centered on crop or stock farming technical tasks. Gendered work division assigns men to the professional world and diverts women from it. Farm managers thus grant their spouses the possibility to build and to master autonomously new professional fields that are considered to be accessory in comparison to more strictly agricultural activities.
English Trade Union Mobilization in Favor of Equal Pay (1968-2012)
Since the 1970s, English trade unions got involved in various types of legal action aiming at equal pay, particularly by accompanying female complainants to court. Is this involvement in the fight against gender discrimination a direct consequence of member feminization and the research of a better balance between the sexes in trade unions? Based on a mix of interviews with the main actors of this mobilization and archive documents, this article first stresses the influence of women’s strikes and feminist groups on the obtention of a legislation in 1970 and on the importance of the legal strategy of a non-governmental agency, the Equal Opportunity Commission, in the evolution and application of English law in the 1980s. This survey then focuses on the role of certain men, trade unionists of committed lawyers, who seized the anti-discriminatory law in the 1990s in order to fight the policies of reorganization led by conservative governments, and to unionize in public and private services. This legal mobilization, however, has not modified discriminatory conventional practices much, which were secured by trade union (male) negotiators. Indeed, more and more numerous at the top and at the base of trade unions, women find it difficult to make a difference in decentralized collective negotiation proceedings, faced with unwilling employers, in the context of deregulation of the English labor market.
Gill Kirton and Geraldine Healy
Strategies for Union Gender Democracy
The objective of the paper is to reveal the cross-national similarities and differences of uk and us women union leaders with respect to union gender equality strategies that contribute to advancing gender democracy. It draws on a two year qualitative study of women union leaders involving 134 union leaders, participant observation and secondary data sources. This research contributes to gender and comparative research by highlighting both similarities and differences in the way uk and us women union leaders engage with union gender equality strategies and provides insights on the efficacy of these strategies for improving women’s representation in leadership and decision-making structures. Further insights relate to the weakness in women’s position in their unions, and how social and structural factors often constrained their willingness to promote and defend transformational equality strategies.
Yannick Le Quentrec
Militant Action in a Feminized Trade Union: Sorority as a Resource
Militants of the cgt federation of health and social action, although stemming from a mainly female professional field and unionized staff, experience trade union working conditions that are less favorable than that of men. They have less means to take action and more trade union, professional and family constraints. They are also confronted with broad legitimization of male domination within the trade union. Nevertheless, unionization fosters equality both inside and outside the union when volunteering leaders feminize the management of the union and favor women’s availability to militant actions by taking into account female militants’ need for flexibility and feminist solidarity links. These results, at par with practice in the field, are a consequence of participant observation. They question interactions between researchers, male and female, and male and female trade unionists.
Vanessa Monney, Olivier Fillieule and Martina Avanza
The Sufferings of the Quota Woman
This article stems from a rather rare fact: within a few years, the most important Swiss trade union, unia, managed to reach a high feminization rate of its management and political personnel, whereas 80% of its members are men. We will first show, based on objective data, that the voluntary quota policy, fostered by the necessity to develop the feminized part of the service sector, as well as the professionalization of the trade unionist profession, explain this success. On the basis of biographical interviews among male and female trade union secretaries, we then show that the forced feminization of the trade union also generated counterproductive effects: high turnover of female staff, burn-outs, stigmatization of the « quota woman », sexism, difficulties to conciliate private life and professional life mark female careers at unia. We therefore underline the limits of a willful feminization policy if it is not accompanied by profound changes in the organizational structure of the trade union, which remains profoundly male-dominated to this day.
N° 27 – Power, Gender and Religion
Nancy Fraser, Rebel Philosopher
The Absence of a Municipal Gender Policy
Studies of implemented gendered municipal politics have showed how often these action programs have been banished. We focus on the perennisation of these implemented gendered municipal politics by crossing public action and political life. The eclipse of gendered municipal politics is linked to struggles for local leadership and to the difficulties in institutionalizing public action. Mobilization of gendered municipal politics is then linked to the mayor’s goodwill, his positioning in local politics and successive political opportunities.
Béatrice de Gasquet
Masculinity and Sense of “Honor”
On the basis of an ethnographic survey in non-orthodox synagogues in France, this article analyzes gendered division of rituals in religious streams open to feminization, as well as how participation in the ritual of the reading of the Torah constructs a gendered Jewish subjectivity. The object of complex religious codifications that vary from one movement to another, eligibility to this ritual defines gender and ethnicity boundaries. In orthodox judaism, men only can compete for the opportunity to ritually represent the Jewish people. In the synagogues that were under scrutiny, if women took part in the ritual, they would appropriate it differently; fewer consider it an honour one is supposed to pursue, in a hierarchical and community logic, and more consider it an individual act.
Female Mosque Leadership and Islamic Authority in Syria and Further Afield
This article uses the concept of authority to analyze contemporary female Islamic leadership, focusing in particular on Syrian mosque instructor Huda al-Habash. While examples of female leadership in the distant past can provide inspiration for women active in and contemporary revivalists mosque their leadersare emerged as a result of twentieth-century developments. The need to be perceived by the wider community as largely supportive of past practices places significant constraints on female religious authority within revivalist movements. Female mosque instructors such Huda al-Habash have the potential to change the status of women within these movements and their surrounding communities in subtle but significant ways.
Françoise F. Laot
Spouses of Auditors The Movie Back to School?
Couples and Adult Education in the 1960s
In the 1960s, as revealed by the movie Back to School?, women were forgotten as targets of social promotion politics, or adult education. As spouses, however, they were recognized as the primary support to their husbands, who followed evening classes. That specific role is precisely what is analyzed in this article. By crossing how spouses are talked about in social promotion steering committees and how they are shown in movies staging three spouses of evening class students interviewed at their husbands’ sides in 1966, this article offers to reconstitute pedagogical conceptions that inspired those politics.
Women, Mothers, and Priests in the Church of England. What a Vocation!
This paper will consider how women priests in the Church of England have been incorporated into the occupational life of the Church, highlighting the ways in which women are negotiating a discriminatory terrain. Although general opposition to women’s priesthood has diminished, pockets of opposition remain. In addition, women’s negotiation of the organisation is determined by their positioning in the Church; securing a senior post can actually interfere with the amount of professional autonomy priests have. Meanwhile, being a priest and a mother introduces additional layers of complexity. The mother’s incorporation into both professional and sacred structures can be deemed problematic. Maternity and parenthood will therefore be examined, detailing issues such as maternity leave, returning to work after having children, and how clergy mothers are generally incorporated into the life of the Church.
Gender Differences in Religious Practice and Significance
This paper discusses the slowly-progressing influence of gender studies on the sociology of religion, and discusses key publications in the Anglophone tradition. It shows that the introduction of a gendered perspective has far-reaching consequences. These include re-thinking the concept of ‘religion’ and what counts as ‘real religion’ (not just those forms in which men are most visible and powerful), adjusting methods, and reconsidering dominant theories like those of secularisation. Moreover, the religious history of modern western societies can be re-read in terms of changing gender relations, and their linkages with religion. The paper proposes a new framework for thinking about religion and gender, which highlights the way in which power relations established in each confirm or contest one another.
N° 28 – Variations France/United States
Nancy Folbre, a Feminist Economist
Early Pregnancy in the United States
With a 42/1000 rate in 2005-2010, the usa are rated first among developed countries as to teenage fertility. After presenting a few figures that position the usa among developed countries, we describe fertility, level and trend before age 20 in the usa in detail based on an analysis of civil data. We then evaluate the impact of intermediary variables (mariage rate, sexuality, use of contraception and recourse to abortion) before discussing the influence of culture, politics and social and economic realities. As a representative of countries in which teenage fertility is particularly weak, France is used to make comparisons.
Laura Lee Downs, Rebecca Rogers and Françoise Thébaud
Gender Studies and Etudes de Genre: The Gap
Travail, Genre et Sociétés asked three historians, among which two Franco-Americans, to reflect on why and how gender studies, studies on sexuality and women’s studies developed so differently on either side of the Atlantic. Several dimensions are tapped in the three-voice interview that resulted from this request: the idea of a French backwardness in comparison to the American advance; institutional blocking and resistance; role of magazines, friendship and militant networks in the transatlantic circulation of ideas; plurality of approaches that is characteristic of those studies in either country. Through this rich and diverse discussion, the pioneer role played by gender studies in the epistemological evolution of human sciences since the 1970s appears clearly.
The Education of Girls in the United States and France
This text synthetically presents the debates that took place in the usa and France about two major aspects of girls’ education: formal education as organized in coed and non-coed classes, and the more informal education that media, fashion and games provide. As for coeducation, the American perspective is based on biologizing and empirical considerations, whereas in France, considerations on the grounds of principle prevail. As for the tendency to genderize little girls earlier and earlier, it s broadly demonstrated and debated in the usa, France standing back until now. Behind these debates, true differences exist between those in favor of resemblance and indifferentiation of men and women and those, on the contrary, who defend a wide display of differences that are to be respected, or even promoted via education.
Linda K. Kerber
US Women’s History as the History of Human Rights
Virtually all of the public issues that feminists have embraced in the last two centuries are matters of human rights. The legal tradition in the United States has been permeated by « coverture »: laws that purport to protect women’s interests but serve to limit their autonomy and membership in the constitutional community. Husbands’ authority to exercise expansive arbitrary power over their wives’ bodies and their property made the denial of a wide range of human rights to adult women seem to be part of the natural order of things. It was left to women to name the harms they experienced, to develop philosophical grounding for their claims, and to struggle politically to achieve equitable treatment and equality. The 1960s and 1970s are distinctive for a shift in the way us law views women’s rights and obligations. Laws that were once viewed as protective of women are now viewed as discriminatory toward them, bringing us law more closely into conformity with the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Nevertheless, the legacy of coverture
has not been completely eradicated, especially the field of reproductive rights and domestic violence.
Sex Discrimination in the United States: A Legal Theory under Tension
The fight against racial discriminations in the usa initially served as a model, by analogy, to the construction of a legal corpus specific to women’s rights. However, this analogy between race and gender has limits, especially constitutionally-wise. At first sight, this less ambitious vision of male-female equality seems disappointing for the feminist cause. Nevertheless, it happens to have proved efficient in promoting legal advances, which were, in turn, beneficial to the cause of African Americans thanks to legal precedents. From the 1970s until now, the legal reflection of the American doctrine, of Foucaldian inspiration, reveals a power struggle inherent to the fight against gender-related discriminations, as well as the tensions created by the law between concrete equality and formal equality. Neither are these interrogations a threat to the feminist debate. The creation of the gender criterium in the law, next to that of sex, and the interest for parenthood and systematic discriminations are in no way a denial of laws specific to women, beyond individual discriminations based on gender. It is a chance that must be seized to renew the legal feminist debate on gender and enrich it.
Work or Get Married!
The article presents a gendered analysis of the evolution of rights and duties of those who are eligible to welfare benefits in France and in the USA. In both countries, the counterpart of national solidarity has long been based on their motherly role for the women and on their role of breadwinners for the men. Successive reforms of poverty reduction programs in the usa and in France have altered the nature of these obligations, reinforcing in both cases the logic of merit through a request for insertion via work, this logic being stronger in the usa than in France. The injuction to be autonomous now applies to both men and women, but presserves married women, whose inactive status is accepted, or even encouraged in social and tax measures.
Abigail C. Saguy
French and U.S. Legal Approaches to Sexual Harassment
When former managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss Khan (dsk), was arrested for attempted rape of a room attendant in a Sofitel hotel in New York in May 2011, there was much speculation about the role played by national differences in French and US approach to sexuality. In this article, I argue that, if this scandal was more likely to begin in New York than in Paris, it was for reasons that can be explained by contemporary national legal differences, rather than by timeless differences in national character. Specifically, in the us, extensive employer liability for sexual harassment has encouraged the development of internal regulations and corporate policies. This, in turn, has – along with the 1994 Violence Against Women Act (vawa) – contributed to greater awareness of the problem of sexual harassment and sexual violence. In contrast, in France, where employer liability is underdeveloped, there has been little corporate action and, in turn, little public awareness of the problem of sexual harassment and sexual violence. This pattern makes it more likely that charges of sexual assault would be filed against dsk in New York than in Paris. I further argue, however, that, by drawing attention to the problem of sexual violence, the ongoing dsk scandal – which broadened in March 2012 to accusations of involvement in a prostitution ring – may itself be reshaping the French legal landscape so as to provide more protection for victims of sexual violence.
N° 25 – South-Exploited
Marie-Jo Zimmermann: The Duty to Disturb
Young Women’s Migrations in Mali: Exploitation or Emancipation?
Female migrations of an economic nature, on the rise over the past decades, are strongly linked to the domestic market. In Mali, young women from rural regions migrate to big urban centers, where they are employed as “little maids” in private households. In rural population of Mali, this type of mobility has spectacularly risen since the end of the ‘80s. This article analyses their development on the basis of enquiries among rural populations of Mali, but also in Bamako, the main destination of these migrations. The confrontation of various viewpoints and discourses helps to take distance with a “sordid” approach that associates female mobility and children’s work to forms of prostitution and exploitation, by stressing how instructive and emancipating these migrative experiences are.
International Crisis and Female Industrial Employment in Mexico State
Does the gendered segregation of jobs protect women in times of crisis? Or, on the contrary, does it turn women into a traditional industrial augmentee, most vulnerable to the recession? Based on the example of employment in the export maquiladora industry in Mexico during the worldwide 2008-2009 crisis, the article discusses the impact of the economic crisis on female employment in a workplace inserted in globalisation. The data stems from an employment national survey conducted every three months from 2007 to 2010. It enables a fine analysis of men and women in four principal sectors of the export industry.
Analyzing Globalization from a Feminist Perspective
The article offers a synthetic analysis of the neoliberal globalization from a feminist perspective influenced by francophone materialistic feminist analyses, theorization of the imbrication of social power relations, and the Latino-American and Caribbean autonomous feminist movement. The debate has four entries. 1. Is capitalism an objective ally of gender equality ? Or does it worsen, by reorganizing them, the inequalities of gender, “race” and class? 2. Women in the environmental disaster, the industrial war against the rural world, rural depopulation and forced urbanization. 3. The imposition of a “development” that is harmful to women, based on exportation monoculture, exploitation of subsoil, free zones and tourism. 4. The neoliberal continuum of masculine military violence, which creates, maintains and opposes “men in arms” to “service women”.
The Unexpected Consequences of Microfinance
Based on several years of reseach in Southern India, this article shows that the impact of microfinance is first and foremost political. At a macro level, Indian microfinance is largely promoted by public authorities for two main reasons. It enables to respect neoliberal precepts and, at the same time, serve as a populist tool at the service of parties, in power or aiming for power. At the territorial level, it can be observed that various networks and associations, whether political, religious or community-based, use microfinance to reinforce their control over local populations. Finally, at a micro-local level, that of the “beneficiaries”, microfinance participates in the emergence or reinforcement of local political trajectories, women included and lowest categories such as the lowest casts also included. However, this emergence of women leaders does not lead to any form of collective mobilization: it principally contributes to reinforce local patronage and clientelism systems.
Women in General Leclerc’s 2nd Armored Division
In 1943 in New York, Florence Conrad, a rich American woman, supported by powerful feminist leagues, bought several ambulances that were baptised the « Groupe Rochambeau ». Her goal was to set up a unit of female ambulance drivers and to rally Free France in North Africa. After recruiting volunteers in New York and Morocco, the unit joined the General Leclerc’s 2d Armoured Division. The itinerary of these women in male territory, ignoring the rules of gender, covers four continents at the rhythm of the Liberation of France and of the Indochina war. This article sheds light upon these pioneers of the feminization of the French Army. Recruited in a combat unit, actresses of the Liberation, female soldiers in Indochina, these women, although weaponless, are female soldiers from the very beginning. After these two conflicts, the future of these women and of the memory of the “thankful homeland” illustrate the difficulties of France to incorporate female heroins in the ranks of its heroes.
N° 26 – Individuals and households
Michel Verret, The Generous Reason
Thomas Amossé and Gaël de Peretti
Men and Women in Household Statistics : A Piece In Three Acts
Statistical categories participate in social representations in their own way. To follow their evolution is a way to observe transformations of a society. Through the transformation of the notions of “household” and “individual”, we offer a three-part story of the space given to gender categories by statistics. From the after-war to the 70s, women are hardly visible, hidden behind the “head of household” or reduced to their role as a mother and to their reproductive function. At the turn of the 70s, statistics center little by little around individuals and unveil inequalities between men and women that need to be reduced. Finally, more recently, individuals’ place within households and how men’s and women’s roles articulate are debated in sociology and economy. The aim is not only to reveal inequalities, which actually remain in certain areas, but to understand how those inequalities are built within couples. With this third step, statistical science becomes less normative, political orientation more uncertain, scientific controversy more accute. We are only at the premisses of this stage, and there is still quite some « cleaning-up do be done.
Olivier Donni and Sophie Ponthieux
Economic Approaches to Household Behavior: From the Unitary Model to Collective Decisions
This article offers an overview of how standard economic approach describes the behaviour of households. First, the individual behavior model was simply transposed to the household: that approach is called “unitarian”. However, economists developed a more general approach called “collective” because of the limits of the Unitarian approach such as the absence of convincing theoretical justifications to the necessary aggregation of individual preferences, and the rejection of the predictions generated by this aggregation. Based on the sole hypothesis of efficiency of resource allocation, the collective approach enables to take into account several decision-makers in the household. More recent studies scrutinize new generalizations in which the efficient situation is simply a particular one.
Florence Jany-Catrice and Dominique Méda
Women and Wealth: Beyond GDP
The measure most widely used to express a country’s wealth is the Gross National Product, which represents the monetary value of goods and services produced a given year. This indicator was invented in the after-war years. As all indicators, it is the product of conventions, among which that which excludes household activities from national wealth. These activities have long been performed by women only, and their distribution remains very unbalanced between men and women. This article first reconsiders the implicit and explicit reasons of this exclusion. It then shows one of the ways to render justice to a certain number of feminist claims to measure the contribution of domestic production to national wealth by estimating it in monetary terms. After having considered different methods to do so, up to the most recent ones proposed by the Stiglitz commission and the oecd, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of the latter, we finally analyze another way to trespass the intrinsic limits of the gnp: the development of new indicators more focused on social health and the exploration of a way to better take male-female inequalities into account.
The Body and Sexuality in Tunisian Literature
Based on about thirty semi-directive interviews of the contemporary Tunisian writers and the analysis of books published by female writers, the article shows how the exclusion of women from the field of literature cannot be explained only by their difficulties in conciling domestic work and creative activity. While the literary expression of the body and of sexuality is expected from critics and fellow writers and is an important criteria of the evaluation of a “good” book, female writers must face a disseminated social censorship that is particularly acute in the family and the couple. Access of some female writers to literary recognition is thus conditioned by the various strategies that recognition is thus conditioned by the various strategies that they were able to set up, whether in their ordinary interactions with close ones or in their literary productions.
Danièle Meulders and Síle O’Dorchai
When Only the Household Counts
Our objective is to shed light on the hypotheses of the analyses relative to income distribution and poverty to show the biases on the results obtained. These hypotheses lead to underestimating, or even hiding, the poverty risk for women. These consequences are illustrated by three examples of “bad calculation”. They testify of blindness to the specific situation of women. The first example is that of estimation of the poverty risk: it shows how variable the results are whether one takes into account household revenue or individual income. The second example is the impact of break-up on the members of a household. It shows that the results of traditional calculations underestimate women’s ability to live on their own. The third example is that of poor workers: the traditional approach pictures men whereas women’s situation on the labor market remains more precarious.
Girls in Business Colleges in France between World War I and World War II
Nine business schools outside of Paris open up to girls from 1915 to the ‘50s. Girls make up for about one fourth of all students of those schools. This article investigates how they were welcome in those schools: what their learning paths were in an improvised gender mix, who came up with female-specific paths (the chairman’s secretariat) in the general training program of future heads of department and company bosses. All the same, all leave school with one single diploma. Girls, mostly from the middle class and from high school or post-primary school, achieve better results than boys. The professional use of their diplomas is, however, more difficult to grasp. According to these schools’ alumni directories, the range of professions is narrower for women than for men. The sheer presence of female bosses, female heads of departments and female managers among ex-students show that these are presently possible for some of the female graduates.
Counting and Describing Individuals, Families, Households, Homes
For 40 years, households seem to have become simpler: decreasing average size, depletion of so-called “complex” households. However, certain individual situations are not included in censuses that grant each inhabitant a lodging and one only. A quick overview of the main evolutions observed over the past 40 years is followed by a more detailed comparison of family situations as pictured in the great statistical censuses of the Insee (French national statistical institute): the census, the employment survey, as well as other enquiries among households that all refer to a same core database. The most recent version of this database contains very precise information on relations within households and multi-residence. According to this data, men live more often than women in uncertain circumstances: multi-residence, lat relationships, partial residency of children in case of parental break-up.
N° 23 – Tradition and Change in China
Anne Sylvestre, a Witch Like Others
China at Work (1980-2009): Employment, Gender, and Migrations
In the People’s Republic of China, equality between men and women as well as the end of the traditional patriarchal model have been spearheads of modernity since 1919. Over the past 30 years or so, novel economic reforms have been undertaken without any major political change. In a context in which the Communist ideology remains present in the law as well as in the minds, how did gender relations evolve ? What are the consequences of the opening and of economic reforms– its organization, its conditions – on work and on the working status of men and women ? How did gender inequalities evolve and what are the Chinese specificities in the field of gender discriminations ? Work and employment questions are a good entry to the understanding of unequal processes between men and women, on the one hand, and inside the group of men and the group of women, on the other hand. Internal migrations through work exploded with the reinforcing of economic reforms since the beginning of the 60s, which prolongs the analysis. Finally, the example of prostitution, a growing social phenomenon in the China of reforms, stresses male domination strategies and female resistance linked to a unique type of modernisation.
Born as a Woman in China: A Demographic Perspective
A differentiated treatment of men and women has consequences in multiple areas of society. In China, gender inequalities remain particularly in the access to education, employment and health, but also in inheritages, wages, political representation and decision making within the family. Demography, because it is closely linked to behavioral and societal characteristics of a population, does not escape those inequalities. China’s atypical demographic characteristics reflect the unequal treatment of men and women. Given the traditional preference for sons, women have a loser probability of being born and do not survive as long as they could given the snitary and socioeconomic global context. As a consequence, the population of China is increasingly male. It further appears that, at every step of their existence, women strive to attain true autonomy. They are still submitted to strong constraints concerning their reproductive life. More numerous than men when they grow old, they are often exposed to more social and economic fragility than them.
Women, Risk and Radioactivity
This article deals with the history of womens’s health in scientific work environments, focusing on the example of radioactivity. This complex example questions both the place and the relation to risk of women in radioactivity research laboratories. It highlights the similarities and the differences between their situation and that of other categories of workers confronted with professional risks, which have more classically been studied by work historians. This article shows that these women were exposed to the danger of radium since the very beginning of the 20th century and benefited from a relatively privileged situation until the middle of the 1960s. Nuclear science development as well as their applications then favours gendered regulations in order to manage the protection of the staff that is exposed to radiations, turning to rather traditional schemes of work division.
Gender, Politics, and Radioactivity: The Case of Red Vienna
Besides a place of scientific production, the scientific laboratory is definitely a space of work where tasks are labeled as skilled and unskilled, and positions are divided to those paid monthly and those supported by grant money or by research fellowships. This paper focuses on the case of the Institute for Radium Research in Vienna, and argues that the work culture of its laboratories was fairly gender equal, allowing women physicists to achieve important scientific goals. During the interwar period women accounted for the one third of the total number of the researchers thanks to the encouraging attitude of the director of the Institute, the politics of Red Vienna, and the interdisciplinarity of the field. Compared with other institutional settings such as the Cavendish laboratory, the Vienna Institute constitutes an exceptional case and a fascinating example of women’s work in science.
Women and the Great Leap
It has been largely demonstrated and is nowadays admitted that the « Great Leap ahead » (1959-1961) has been a crucial period in the history of Chinese women. During this movement, a great number of « housewives », which we shall here call the « women of the Great Leap ahead », were integrated by the State into wage workers. Communist authorities boast about an original emancipation of « housewives » that broke ground in the male-female equality policy in China. Probably for that reason, this « accomplishment » has rarely been questioned by historiography. However, this image of emancipation is very ideological. We aim at revealing the construction of an unequal employment system for these housewives, a category which is an ideological construction in itself, first through a study of the history of employment politics in the 50s and 60s, second through in-depth interviews of 15 « women of the Great Leap Ahead » who worked in the same company in Shanghai. In their professional lives, these « housewives » have been submitted to a casual employment system, with low wages and no career outlooks, and without social protection – a system which reinforced the stable employment system in the Maoist times.
Feminist Militantism in Contemporary China
This paper examines the conceptual and organizational development of feminist activism in China since the Fourth UN Conference on Women in 1995. Centering on feminists activism on domestic violence, the author presents a critical analysis of the relationships between women NGOs, the All-China Women’s Federation, and the Chinese state in the context of global feminisms and global capitalism. Entangled with a patriarchal state characterized by an entrenched bureaucracy, a male-centered intellectual world clearly leaning in service of the state, as well as a capitalist economy legitimizing dispossession and displacement, Chinese feminists have forged feminist transformation in significant yet constrained ways.
N° 24, 2010 – Dreaming of conciliation
Liliane Kandel, MLF Generation
Breastfeeding and Working: It Is Possible, Trust Us!
Publicity for breastfeeding seems to have evolved over the past 20 years, now affirming that this practice is compatible with a professional activity. However, a closer look reveals that this evolution is purely rhetorical, based on the notion of conciliation between maternity and professional life. Deconstruction of the line of argument shows that it aims at, and sometimes even states, a reduction, or even the end, of female professional activity to the benefit of unconditional maintaining of breastfeeding. Analysis of these views reveals the existence of a discursive training prescribing a number of normalized conducts and behaviors, teaching maternal models by resorting to guilt feelings so as to ensure mothers’ joining-in.
Danielle Boyer and Benoît Céroux
The Limitations of Public Support Policy to Paternity
The purpose is to unveil contemporary paradoxes of the social definition of paternity with regard to prescriptive models of its exercise and to fathers’ expression of their paternal experience. The paternity that stems from it seems to be more of a voluntary act than a social injunction: fathers do not all have the same will to invest themselves in the child. In that sense, it could be named intentional paternity, one that numerous obstacles would stop some fathers from making real. The norm of the adult worker undoubtedly contributes to reinforce assignation of men to the professional sphere. Recourse to personal commitment by public programs as well as the persistence of a professional norm make up the limits of the efficiency of public support to paternal implication.
Elitist Antifeminism and Feminism in Germany: The Terms of the Debate
Feminism, for a long time the „F-word“ in the social discourse in Germany, has recently seen a revival and has been used in as yet unfamiliar political contexts and with regard to new ideological positions. The new feminism debate was pushed by a well-known former news-anchor, when she published a bestseller blaming feminism for almost all of the social ills facing the German society today. The article brings forth some indicators that Eva Hermann’s attack on the women’s movements of the 1970’s is part of a wider anti-feminist network, that is effectively organized and uses new media technology to its advantage. Many voices of protest have been raised against the very traditionalist opinions of the former news anchor. The media has imprinted the multi-faceted label of “new feminism” on them. However, a closer look at some of the most popular non-fiction published in this context reveals a strong conservatism that borders on and sometimes touches antifeminist positions. It is argued that “conservative feminism” is characterized by four defining features: firstly by distancing itself from an older and presumably outdated feminism, secondly by a neoliberal self-celebration, thirdly by the lack of a critical social analysis and finally by an invariably heterosexual orientation.
From Conciliation to Resilience: 40 Years of Lexical Evolution in the United States
While “conciliation” is only just starting to be taken into account by French companies, American employers have been developing those practices for over forty years. The words chosen by the human resources managers and researchers to designate them, from “work-family” to “work-life”, then to “resilience”, both reflects a more subtle understanding of conciliation with time and the strategies adopted to overcome obstacles. Perception of conciliation as a woman’s problem restricted the use of practices offered by employers and penalized female users. The absorption of conciliation in the glossary of health, well-being and resilience is an attempt to by-pass gender stereotypes and could therefore ensure more efficient practices.
Ariane Pailhé et Anne Solaz
Reconciling, Organizing, Renouncing: What Types of Arrangements Are There?
Beyond the scathing debate among feminist circles about the use of the word conciliation, this article assesses the articulation between family and work. Arrangements between family and work continue to mainly weigh upon women, more and more within the life cycle. New work organizations and segmentation of the workplace keep the gendered division going. Employers can contribute to the lowering of the tensions between work and family life, particularly by allowing a more flexible work organization. However, whatever their family status, workers do not all benefit from the same support from their companies: strong inequalities remain accounting to the field of activity and the job category.
Professional and Family Schedules in Europe: New Configurations
To better articulate professional and family schedules is one of the major subjects of European policies, who thus defend the fundamental principle of equality between women and men, but also demographic and economic objectives: to both enable more women to joint the workplace and make it easier for them to be mothers and to take care of others. This article aims at drawing up an up-to-date, albeit incomplete overview of public policies in the field of schedule articulation in Europe (schedules, services, public expenditure), and consequently observing what is the responsibility of other actors than the State, such as companies. This will lead to recount the evolution of European models in the field of “conciliation”, according to the role of State, market and family. Beyond these words, practices are far from homogenous and do not seem to converge to this common project of “conciliation” and equality that is supported by policies of the European Union.
Family Policies Versus Gender Equality Policies? The German Case
In Germany today, an adjustment modernization with regards to France and to the European Union occurred in a family policy that was conservative until then. The two reforms that characterize this change – forced extension of childcare equipments and the reform of parental allowances – are analyzed from the angle of a correlation (or not) of family policies and gendered equality on the one hand, and restructuring of the famous “conciliation” on the other hand, and finally from the angle of inspiring birthrate that is notably low among academics. The results are mixed. What is innovative is orientation of “conciliation” towards the needs of active mothers and reinforcement of men’s roles as fathers. Deficits articulate among selectivities of male-female equality strategies, focused on well-off households with two professionally active parents, which conceals social inequalities. In the end, the conflictual mix of various models – the active mother goes along with the father who supports the family – and the “normative indetermination” create a breach in the concept of male-female equality.
N° 21, 2009 – Equality and Diversity
Nathalie M. The Denial to Collect
Carole Brugeilles, Sylvie Cromer and Nathalie Panissal
Sexism in the Syllabus?
In 2002, the French Ministry of National Education included a reference list of 180 books selected in youth literature for pupils aged 7 to 10. This list aims at building a common culture. Literature is considered to be the privileged means to understand and transmit values. It is legitimate to examine representations of men and women carried by books that were explicitely chosen for their socializing functions. Furthermore, since the 1960s, the Ministry of National Education claims to foster equal opportunity for girls and boys and especially to fight gendered stereotypes. We have used a methodology based on the sociology of gendered social relations and social representations. Through a questionnaire, information is gathered relative to the text describing characters, which are the key elements of any story, as well as to the characters’ image. Analysis reveals not only numerical unbalances between male and female characters, but also a hierarchy and social segregation. Portraits of characters mainly depict men in the professional sphere and women in the family sphere.
Christophe Falcoz and Audrey Becuwe
The Management of Underprivileged Minority Groups: The Case of Sexual Orientation
This article aims at showing that it is not always a good idea to oppose egalitarian and anti-discriminatory approaches to more recent American approaches such as “diversity management” in France. For certain discreditable minorities (as opposed to discredited minorities), the demand for equal rights within society and the wish to benefit from “inclusive” policies in companies coexist, as shown by the results of an enquiry carried among 1 413 gay and lesbian workers. Since a large proportion of them hides on the workplace, the subject of discrimination becomes secondary. For these workers, the point is rather to estimate the level of tolerance for “non traditional” sexual orientation, especially through the degree of heterocentrism of their work environment. The study shows that diversity management policies ensure gays and lesbians the possibility to safely reveal their sexual orientation on the workplace much more than policies fighting discriminations.
Equality, Diversity, and Various Types of Discrimination
The principle of equal treatment and non-discrimination was built in EU law through directives and case law from the court of justice of the European Communities. The Amsterdam treaty of 1997 gave this subject a new dimension. The accent since then is put on the fight against discriminations and on the necessity to diversify actors. Mobilizing actors also translates into the rising theme of Diversity, a theme linked to legal anti-discriminatory rules, but also an increasingly dominant subject in the public debate. It has inspired a Chart, a label, an interprofessional national agreement, all of them more focused on “racial” discrimination than on gender equality. Could there be a risk that the notion of Diversity overcomes that of equality? Beyond this evolution, reflection at the European level is geared towards the notion of multiple discrimination, which is mostly experienced by women and has not been thoroughly studied in France. Multiple discrimination attempts to more profoundly define discriminatory phenomena on the basis of “intersectional” motives instead of founding them on a single motive.
Is Diversity the Answer to Gender Equality?
Over the past years, progress has been assessed in France and in Europe in the field of professional equality between men and women. At the same time, a debate took rise about “diversity” in society as well as on the workplace. Many companies have shown their will to work on this issue, but the way they do it shows that they are uncertain how to articulate promoting gender equality and promoting diversity. Confronting policies fostering professional equality and those fostering diversity reveals what is at stake. Indeed, it appears that gender difference is not a diversity “among others”, and the multiplication of categories of “diversity” can lead to a situation in which the transversality and universality of the principle of equality, and especially the equality of genders, can lose its sharpness. The more equality develops, in the sense that diversity is taken into account, the more it becomes necessary to stress the “requirements” of equality, especially on the workplace, where there are reasons to fear for the “fragility” of the principle of equality.
Women in the Expatriating Procedure
Given an international mobility of managers enhanced by world growth on the one hand, and managerial competencies, a level of training, a participation rate to active life comparable among men and women on the other hand, it seems that all the elements required to achieve equal gender representation among expatriates are gathered. Paradoxically, whereas the working population includes more and more women, the population of expatriates remains mainly male. Women remain largely underrepresented among international managers. This study offers an analysis of the women’s situation at the different steps of the expatriation process. It aims at understanding and testing the tenacious prejudices that play against women in their access to international mobility and following them when they manage to go abroad. In spite of the discriminations they run across both in the selection and in the expatriation processes, women show levels of performance and success comparable to those of their male counterparts, including countries in which business culture gives little place and credit to women on the workplace.
Ethnic Statistics: Taboos and Witticism
Statistical taboos have always existed, but vary according to the country and the time. In France, the controversy around so-called “ethnical” statistics is particularly intense. Revived by the set-up of a study by the Ined, “trajectories and origins”, about life paths of immigrants and immigrants’ children, debates also gained strength as a law was prepared by the ministry in charge of immigration and became very harsh. On the one hand, some are persuaded that measuring and identifying origins would reveal discriminations and enable to fight unequal treatment linked to these differences (eventually by encouraging positive discrimination). On the other hand, some perceive “ethno-racial” identification to be contrary to the Republican principle of non-discrimination. They highlight the risk of reinforcing racist stereotypes by presenting an ethnical vision of society as banal. Such an approach would furthermore play against an in-depth analysis of social inequalities. Statistical categories remain social constructions that are particularly difficult when it comes to physical or personal criteria, as blurred and disputable as ethnic origin and/or color of skin. Can any question be asked in a statistical enquiry? This is similar to the humorists’ dilemma: can one laugh about everything?
N° 22, 2009 – Domestics from home and abroad
Andrée Michel, A Great Sociologist
Philantropists and Feminists in the Reforming World (1890–1910)
The reformist milieu, which was born in the last decades of the 19th century, takes distance from traditional charity and offers a rationalization of social action in which knowledge and skills are linked. This period is also the golden age of feminist movements. Important works have been published in France about these movements, but gender studies are still scarce. This article studies women in this milieu as well as gender relations that develop therein. It also examines the relations between female social positions and their commitments to philanthropic and feminist institutions, as well as the different implications of such investments for women of various social categories. This research is based on data collected in ngo’s, circles’ and (mostly co-ed) congresses’ archives, as well as on biographical data on actors and actresses. It joins qualitative methods, such as studies, to quantitative ones, such as network analysis and collective biographies.
Exodus and Domestic Employment in Bogotá
This article explores different forms of domestic employment in Bogotá, Colombia. This article compares migration of young girls and female children to the Colombian capital to seek employment as home maids in the 1960s and 1970s with the integration of people misplaced by violence in domestic service. It seeks to understand how the conditions to enter a recruiting family have evolved. Starting from a professional integration that is guided by parental and proximity links, the “recommendation” phenomenon created trusting relationships between strangers by stretching the family circle beyond its formallimits. However, these trusting relationships will be most difficult to obtain for misplaced people, who are stigmatized and rejected by urban populations.
“Grand Nieces”and “Grand Maids”in Abidjan
In contemporary Abidjanese society, most of domestic work is accomplished by female children and young girls less than 20. This ancient phenomenon of working « grand maids » in urban households, as old as the origins of the city, has undercome major changes, especially those that derive from the economic recession in the Ivory Coast since the 1980s. In order to retrace the contemporary logics of the contribution of female children and young girls to urban domestic economy, the article retraces history of the market of female juvenile domestic service in Abidjan over the past 30 years. It analyzes the transition from a family-based logic of putting children to work to anonymous and more contractual logics of juvenile domestic salaried work. It stresses the diversity of situations and the complex phenomenon that, although unknown, represents an indicator of social change in Black Africa.
Domestic Employment and Its Determinants in France
In France, recourse to domestic services is highly differentiated according to household composition and members’ ages. In the 1995-2005 decade, recourse to these services has been reintegrated to formal economy, but it has not really progressed. In households counting a woman in age to be professionally active, the choice to recourse to it seems closely related to female professional activity. But activity as such is not the issue : what definitely triggers such a recourse is the combination of children and either a high degree or a manager’s job. On the other hand, inequality among partners in terms of money and qualification is less important in households that employ household services than on average. Finally, the male level of qualification can appear to be an important factor in the recourse to household services. However, its impact actually transits through the household’s living standards. All things being equal, the woman’s level of qualification is more decisive in the decision to recourse to domestic employment than the level of qualification of her spouse.
An Ancillary Relationship Questioned by New Rights
Statistical taboos have always existed, but vary according to the country and the time. In France, the controversy around so-called “ethnical” statistics is particularly intense. Revived by the set-up of a study by the Ined, “trajectories and origins”, about life paths of immigrants and immigrants’ children, debates also gained strength as a law was prepared by the ministry in charge of immigration and became very harsh. On the one hand, some are persuaded that measuring and identifying origins would reveal discriminations and enable to fight unequal treatment linked to these differences (eventually by encouraging positive discrimination). On the other hand, some perceive “ethno-racial” identification to be contrary to the Republican principle of non-discrimination. They highlight the risk of reinforcing racist stereotypes by presenting an ethnical vision of society as banal. Such an approach would furthermore play against an in-depth analysis of social inequalities. Statistical categories remain social constructions that are particularly difficult when it comes to physical or personal criteria, as blurred and disputable as ethnic origin and/or color of skin. Can any question be asked in a statistical enquiry? This is similar to the humorists’ dilemma: can one laugh about everything?
Women in Men’s Professions: Learning Surgery
As statistical exceptions, women are a good indicator of professional socialization in surgery. What is under study here is the content of professional socialization (what is transmitted) as well as the concrete procedure through which this surgical culture is perpetuated (how it is transmitted). The analysis is centered on the intership stage. Women who enter surgery already have a dispositional patrimony preparing them for it. However, their professional insertion somehow masculinized them. This constant effort to make others forget that one is a woman shows to which extent virile values stick to the profession. Through field observations, I searched the concrete mechanisms through which male domination operates and recrutes candidates. At field level, for example, it has been observed that bawdy, sexist jokes efficiently contributed to women’s eviction. The same processes that contribute to evict certain female interns attract others and mold them still. Professional socialization relies on past socializing experiences and re-questions them.
N° 19, 2008 – Women, arts and culture
Artistic frontiers and gender frontiers
Attempting, Returning, Staying: Three Challenges of Female Jazz Instrumentalists
At the start of the 21st century, a glass ceiling seems to limit women’s access to the highest social status. The French jazz world, a very male and very gendered art world, offers a field of choice to study that question in an innovative way. Women represent 65% of singers and less than 4% of jazz instrumentalists. Women musicians, even the most reknown ones, are only marginally present in that world. An ethnographic study started in 1998 identifies the social patterns that, when cumulated over time, render access and duration of women instrumentalists particularly difficult in the jazz world. This reality, which results from a long personal evolution, is at the crossroads of broader social links – the social definition of various female roles throughout the “ages” – and of norms, networks and “male” conventions conveyed by musicians.
The (Re) production of Social Reports on Sex: What Is the Place the Educational Institution?
In the reproduction of gendered social links, does school play a role comparable to the one it plays in the reproduction of social inequalities? After reasserting the crucial impact of parental educational practices, we will analyze the various potential influences of school. A number of mechanisms discovered through the analysis of the reproduction of social classes at and by the schooling system prove inefficient here. Indeed, it is much rather the passivity of the institution, facing its pupils and situations marked by gendered models, that appears to be essential. This does not answer the question of legitimization of gender inequalities when school cannot provide one.
Women Musicians: From Admired Pioneers to Dreaded Competition
Professionalization of musicians is an ancient phenomenon that developed intensely from the end of the 17th century, when the opera genre appeared. The French public’s taste for women’s voices, particularly, and for theatrical truth (which excluded castratos), gave way to true divas, paid accordingly, maybe the first women to have had access to so-called prestigious professions. The Paris Conservatory of Music has welcomed both genders from its creation in 1795 onwards, enabling female singers and pianists to obtain a much relinquished diploma a hundred years before the School of Arts and seventy years before the university. Women’s access to the other professions in music proved more difficult, as was the case for profession considered “male territory”; if soloist instrumentalists managed to be recognized over the centuries, orchestra instrumentalists, female directors and composers, first perceived as “exceptions”, then as competitors, meet problems of legitimacy and discrimination even today. Women have invested in musical pedagogy at an early stage, though, because of the considerable weigh of recreational art, a necessary step in the education of women from the bourgeoisie, women teaching to women. Musical professions thus turn out to be an ideal observation field of the history of professional discriminations by gender.
« Crickets » of the Municipal Home: Housewives in Politics
The presence of housewives in politics as elected representatives partly comes as a surprise inasmuch as political involvement of women is traditionally analyzed as a part of the exercise of a professional activity. The “availability” that is sought for by heads of lists among the ones they recruit partly explains the strong presence of women in local politics, primarily in rural society. Far from the image given by the media of “new and modern housewives”, the presence of housewives in politics can globally be interpreted as the conservative dimension of the political order, which has not been perturbed by the implementation of equal gender representation in politics since 2001.
The Democratization of Museums:An Intellectual Profession for Women
At the beginning of the 20th century, accompanying visitors in musems is thought of as a female profession from the start by male curators eager to keep the first graduates in art history away from scientific positions. This female intellectual profession evolves throughout the century by adapting to demand through short-term jobs with changing levels of activity. One century later, the characteristics of the profession have remained unchanged, but it now attracts certain men, mostly artists who make-do with these flexible working conditions because they give them time for their artistic creation. Besides, the accompanyers, whatever their gender, tend to “naturalize” the competencies at work in their profession and live matrimonial situations “typically” female: the partner is the one to secure the financial security of the couple.
The Virtues of Reproduction Copyist-Painters in France in the First Half of the 19th Century
The copying of paintings is rarely studied (least of all in the perspective of gender). It first appears as the devalued work of starters, amateurs or failures. However, in the 19th century, this activity is largely practiced by painters (men, but also, for a large part, women) and does not correspond to this idea of the copyist “by default”. This activity is all the more central in career strategies as it is extremely valued by political leaders. Copying remains, for painters of both sexes, a triple resource: a valuable source of revenue, a way to penetrate the world of art and a source of legitimacy among the post prestigious pictural genres. Finally, by comparing the situation of female and male copyists under the Monarchy of July, one realizes that copying is recognized as an original professional activity, surprisingly characterizeby a relative gender equality.
N°20, 2008 Migrations and Discriminations
Fatou Sow and the Challenges of a Feminist in Africa
Gilles Combaz and Olivier Hoibian
The Place of Education in the Establishment of Gender Inequalities
Contrary to what is observed when all fields are melded, girls do not perform as well as boys at all when it comes to sports. Additionally to existing research, this article aims to analyze and interpret unequal success according to teaching contents. In reference to research conducted in the field of educational sociology (sociology of curriculum and sociology of teachers), this article attempts to demonstrate that the nature of physical activities in sports class, as well as the way to go about them, greatly explains girls’ inferior performances. From a methodological point of view, the data used is threefold: two national surveys carried in 2006 by the statistical bureau of the Ministry of National Education in France among 1954 pupils and 1317 teachers; the official and most recent decisions concerning sports teaching; and national statistics of results in sports examination for the high school degree.
Gender and Labor in the West Indian History of Migrations
Migration from the islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique to mainland France has received relatively little investigation, since it has usually been left out of the history of immigration to France. This is principally due to the islands’ status as part of the French national territory. Yet analysis of the specific position of French Caribbean women and men during the 1950s and 1970s (i.e. the period of “labour migration”) both within French migration policy and in the mainland’s labour market reveals interactions between various types of social relations. Using a combination of statistical data, archives and biographic interviews, this article aims to describe the interplay of these social relations and their impact on social and occupational outcomes for the migrants. A comparative look at the British context of Caribbean migration throws added light on gender and ethnicized/‘race’ relations in a post-colonial migration context.
Dominique Meurs and Ariane Pailhé
Descendants of Immigrants in France: A Double-Edged Sword on the Labor Market?
Immigrants’ daughters study further than their brothers and benefit from a better image in the media. Is it enough to put them in a more favourable position on the workplace than men from the second generation? How do they position themselves in relation to women of French ascent? This article examines the differences in access to employment according to gender and origin (Southern Europe or North Africa), using the data from the survey Study of Family History (EHF, 1999). It appears that as concerns women, stemming from Maghreb increases the risk of unemployment in comparison to native French and to second generations from Southern Europe. Whatever the origin, women are more at risk to be unemployed than their male counterparts. Women from Maghreb thus appear to be doubly discriminated on the workplace: because of their origins and because of their gender.
Céline Schoeni and Nora Natchkova
Who Needs to « Protect » Women? The Question of Night Work (1919-1934)
As shown by the successive laws passed to govern it, female salaried work, a common phenomenon in the 19th and 20th centuries, has been a combated or an encouraged reality according to both the economic climate and the necessary legitimization of social order. Under the auspices of capitalistic and patriarchal prerogatives, the prohibition of female night work, ratified by a convention of the International Work Organization
in 1919, crystallises struggles between national authorities, the adequacy of a young international institution, trade unions, employer organizations and feminist movements. The article shows the perpetuation process of gendered division of labour in the industrial and the service sectors, which were in transition from 1919 to 1934, the year the Convention was revised.
Cavanna’s Mother: Foreign Women at Work in the 20th Century
The history of the place of foreign women on the workplace has hardly been evaluated, since it suffers from being at the crossroads of social representations that usually erase their presence in two ways. Firstly because, until the 1970s, they often are thought of as a secondary workforce only temporarily present on the workplace. Secondly because the foreigner has long been thought of as male, lowly qualified, non-unionized, and transitionally present on the national territory. Reality is different. Indeed, women have always represented a large proportion of the migratory input, from 30 to 45 % according to time and location. Not necessarily married nor mothers, they also participated in the national economic activity, particularly as traders, workers and house employees of the service sector.
Michèle Vatz Laaroussi
From Maghreb to Quebec: Compromise and Strategies
This text analyzes strategies of immigrant women from Maghreb on the Quebec workplace and in family dynamics. It describes the specificities of immigration from Maghreb to Quebec, identifies immigration policies and evaluates the impact of the Quebec social and political context. The place of immigrant women from Maghreb in paths and strategies of family insertions analyzed through three dimensions: their professional insertion, their family dynamics and the transnational networks. The text concludes that the space for insertion in Quebec offered to immigrant women from Maghreb is ambiguous and sheds light on their strategies to transcend the frontiers.
N° 17, 2007 – Gender and Organizations
Martha Nussbaum, Justice and Human Development
Cécile Guillaume and Sophie Pochic
The Organizational Making of Managers
This article defends the thesis according to which understanding career norms and “production” of managers sheds a new light on the persistence of a glass ceiling in organizations. We show that discriminations which women experience in the company under study are embedded in organizational processes. They are part of the male career model in the shape of a spiral as well as the formal career management system. They are also due to informal selection and detection practices (network impact and plays of influence), role expectations and representations attached to the “manager” figure, which is at the center of competency evaluation tools. Contextualizing women’s careers’ curb helps to understand where to find the major resistance points to the feminization process of top management in a favorable institutional context (professional equality agreement, diversity enhancement policy).
Gender Performance and Organizational Change
Recently, organizational sociology has traced the relationship between gender and work organizations by studying organizational change. ‘Identity’ is central in these accounts as organizations demand new performances from the workforce that are tied to discursive constructions of masculinity and femininity. This paper explores the relations between organizational demands for gendered performance and the construction of individuals’ identities. The paper uses narrative analysis of interviews with five nurses working in two hospitals in the British National Health Service. This reveals complex processes of negotiation as individuals actively construct gendered identities inter alia
through interpretations of organizational and professional change. In turn, this has implications for thinking about the nature and form of workplace politics and new forms of labour organization.
Women in the Men’s House
This article focuses on feminization of surveillance staff in men’s prisons. It turns feminization into an exceptional observation tool of gender dynamics in social relations in prison. On the one hand, it shows that female guards’ arrival offers a useful magnifying glass that reveals organizational mechanisms through which male domination prevails in the world of prisons. On the other hand, it sheds light on how feminization reveals the principles and representations of this “men’s house”, and how this job and this space are organized according to necessarily gendered security requirements. This analysis thus links three levels that are often kept apart: organizational principles observed in prisons, social interactions that are born there, and prevailing gendered relations.
Céline Marc and Hélène Zajdela
Family Policies and Mothers’ Employment: Can the Swedish Model Be Imported?
The objective of this article is to evaluate the pertinence of measures aimed at articulating family life and professional life in France and in Sweden by particularly examining their impact on women’s jobs. In order to compare the impacts of family policy, we first examine institutional structures of both countries in terms of parental leave and childcare for the very young. We then present a statistical comparative analysis of part time and its influence on professional segregation. In France, mothers’ recourse to part time work is mostly a consequence of the structure of the labor market. In Sweden, part time work seems to be chosen whereas in actual fact, articulating family and professional lives makes it inevitable. Part time work creates pernicious obstacles to mothers’ access to certain professions, mothers being far more concentrated in feminized professions than French mothers. Thus, the Swedish model does facilitate mothers’ employment, but it has its flaws: as long as parental leave will be granted to mothers only, it will trigger professional inequality between men and women.
Sex-Related Issues in the History of Modern Spain
Based on the hypothesis according to which definitions of elements of social order always have a normative dimension, the main object of this article is to examine the definition of woman, man and their relation, which is the basis of “conciliation” as defined by the Spanish law of 1999. This definition considers that woman and man are equal and identical. To better understand the specificity of this law, its archeology will be looked for throughout the history of Spanish modernity. The article shows how, in the 19th century, the free market revolution defines the human being as an individual who works. It then reveals that a second definition is hidden behind the first one, a definition that differentiates “the man” from “the woman”, grants the first one the activity of “work” and a dominant position, and gives the second one an activity of “care” associated with a subordinate position. The third part will focus on “conciliation”.
Ina Wagner and Andrea Birbaumer
Women Professionals in Innovative Companies
This paper is based on a study of women who occupy leading positions in innovative companies in multimedia, architecture and financial services in the metropolitan area of Vienna. Our analysis of the fieldwork material is informed by the ongoing debate on the gendering of organisations and professions. We look at how the women affirm themselves in their work in a negotiative process with their co-workers, how they respond to the culture of the organisation and the norms of the professional communities in their field on the one hand, shape this particular culture on the other hand. We also look at women’s work practice from the perspective of their individual biography, seeking to understand the influence of life themes, the role of significant others and of turning points in their careers.
N° 18, 2007 Training and Orientation:The Mark of Gender
Viviane Isambert-Jamati: « According to Me, Feminism Is a Kind of Evidence »
Nathalie Bosse and Christine Guégnard
Youth Perceptions of Professions: Resistance and Projections
On the basis of a survey of 1 149 pupils, this article sheds light on their representations of professions. Diverse world visions are expressed according to individual characteristics of these youngsters. A vast majority of female high school students, especially those in scientific and industrial fields, tend to have a non-gendered approach to professions, whereas boys’ gendered stereotypes resist and persist. Youngsters’ writings also reveal how much women’s and men’s traditional roles persist. “Maternity, softness and understanding” are the words associated to women’s professions, whereas “strength, resistance and courage” characterize men’s trades.
My Tailor Is a Man . . . The Representation of Professions in Children’s Books
In the perspective of a strongly gendered labor market, upstream from which girls’ and boys’ choices of a field of study are quite distinct, this article analyzes the representation of the labor market and trades in children’s illustrated books. This article aims at demonstrating how segregated the vision of the labor market is that children are confronted with in their first years of reading. Professions presented to children are gendered archetypes that even go beyond the reality of the labor market: professions, responsibilities and fields invested by women and by men are even more distinct; segregation, whether horizontal or vertical, is even stronger.
Centered on atypical academic choices of a minority of boys and girls in technical fields (less than 20 %), this research aims at a better knowledge of motivations, welcome measures and academic and professional projects of high school students. The survey, which combines interviews and questionnaires of high school students, headmasters and teachers in Normandy, shows contrasted results. Boys blend in easily, but half of them have not chosen their channel. Girls are more motivated. They consider their being a minority in their studies to be a handicap for the future and stress the difficulties that are linked to unequal gender relations.
Counseling and Gender
Statistics always reveal an unequal distribution of girls and boys in various fields of study. Lack of diversification in girls’ professional choices has often been resorted to to explain gendered segregation of the labor market and its negative consequences on professional integration and women’s career paths. This vision is centered on girls’ choices: it hides the fact that boys also make gendered choices and desert certain fields, too. The article shows that in France, a pioneer country in the field of vocational guidance, the lasting indifference towards the influence of gender on academic and professional projects, whether in research in vocational guidance psychology or in practitioners’ and users’ preoccupations, has slowed down the elaboration of critical analysis and theoretical elements in order to establish an active policy and practical experience that could de-gender vocational guidance.
Silk Manufacturing: A Women’s Affair
Since the arrival in Middle Ages of silk cultivation in Europe, women played a paramount role in silkworms raising and in silk thread making. A similar role existed in Asia and North Africa – from China to Iran to Morocco – irrespective of religion and of roles of genders. They had a high degree of command on profits deriving from silk-making too. There were repeated attempts by men to encroach on the silk production process, but women’s role was held firm into their hands up to 19th Century. Besides the transmission of sophisticated technical knowledge along female lines, including « secrets » about silkworms health and evil protection, a number of rituals and beliefs on the aptness of women’s body alone to hatch silkworm eggs gave them the upper hand over men. Many of those beliefs might have migrated westward from China with the spreading of silk cultivation itself.
N° 15, 2006 – Assessing Women’s Pay
Judith Butler, Issues of Feminism
Christian Baudelot and Delphine Serre
Paradoxes Surrounding Satisfaction or How Women Judge their Salary
When asked if they are satisfied with their salaries given the work they accomplish, women give very similar answers to those of men, whereas their salaries are 20 % lower. The paradox is resolved the moment one takes into account the common representation that the female salary is a supplementary income. The paradox is resolved even further if one tries to understand the references men and women use to evaluate their salaries. Men express satisfaction or dissatisfaction after comparing their salaries to their immediate superiors’ or to their male colleagues’. Women, on the other hand, evaluate their satisfaction with their jobs and their salaries by measuring progress since their mothers’ generation and by comparing their salaries to those of other women who are often less paid.
François Beck, Stéphane Legleye and Gaël de Peretti
Is Alcohol Associated With Gender?
The study of alcohol consumption behaviors and of their perception by society is an interesting approach to the notion of gender, particularly in France, where this consumption is strongly integrated to social relations (family meals or meals with friends, various types of celebrations,…). As such, it is less stigmatized than in other countries. On the basis of the works of Sidsel Eriksen (1999), who defines alcohol as a “symbol” of gender, and of a statistical exploitation of many recent sources (health barometer 2000, Eropp 2002), we will demonstrate that a dichotomy exists between gender and society’s perception of alcohol as it took rise in the 19th century and carries on today.
Laura Lee Downs
Wages and the Value of Work
Women’s Entry into French and British Mechanized Industries Under Conditions of Inequality (1914–1920)
What are the origins of the apparently universal inequality between men’s and women’s wages in industry? This article explores that question by looking at the massive entry of women into an all-male industry – the metalworking trades – in France and Britain from 1914 on. Women’s arrival transformed previously all-male spaces into sexually-mixed spaces that were structured by new sexual divisions of labour and new hierarchies of skill and of wages. By examining wage negotiations between the state, employers, workers and the new female labour force, this article reveals the state’s inability to protect women workers from employers’ strategy of paying women a lower wage for equal, if not superior work to the man she replaced. For bureaucrats on both sides of the Channel were convinced that the lower rate of women’s wages was not merely anchored in tradition but was in fact, a more or less universal “fact” of nature. The interventions in wage negotiations by the ministries of Munitions in both countries certainly resulted in a clear improvement in women’s wages, which, before 1917, were often close to starvation wages. Even after a muscular series of state interventions, however, the gap between men’s and women’s wages, generally close to 50% in 1914, remained at about 20% in France and 30% in Great Britain in 1918. Women workers thus retained their status as cheap labour, and French and British employers emerged from the war with a new and redoubtable weapon in their struggle to keep production costs low: the woman metalworker, paid according to her own scale of low wages for a job that had formerly been performed by a man.
Legal Column on Salary Inequalities between Men and Women
The claim “equal pay for equal work” is an old one, and possibly an ambiguous one. It was first voiced in the context of economic competition to be later recognized as a principle of justice. It finally acquired the status of a fundamental right. The notion of “female” salary perpetuated until the assessment of male-female equality as a principle. But difficulties remained, stemming from the freedom of the employer to determine salaries beyond the legal conventional minima. Legal and judicial tools exist, however, which were primarily built through European law to reinforce the principle of equal pay and fight discriminations. The construction of the meaning and efficiency of the equality principle required recourse to the law. It is first and foremost the actors’ construction, for a law has no meaning in itself: the elaboration of its meaning is a necessity. In France, the fight against such inequalities remains weak, for reasons yet to be determined.
Equal Job, Equal Salary
The objective of policies of “comparable value”, or, to use a Canadian expression, of “pay equity” is the concrete translation of the principle “equal pay for work of comparable value”, which aims at fighting against the loss of value of jobs mainly held by women. Various foreign experiences inspired tools to evaluate these jobs. These methods, based on the “comparable value” of jobs, give way to many controversies.
Dominique Meurs and Sophie Pontieux
When the « Woman »Variable Is No Longer Meaningful in Profit Making Equations
In the logic of the Orthodox analysis of pay determinants, the fact that female and male levels of education are getting closer should result in a narrowing of the salary gap. This prediction, however, is not verified: the average level of education of working women is higher than that of men, but their salaries remain lower on average. The educative advantage does not play a role important enough to counterbalance differences in job structures and in working hours that explain most of the salary gap. These differences are linked to segregation phenomena, which are, in turn, largely the result of social behavior and the distribution of domestic and family tasks between women and men.
« Household » Income, Who Pays for What?
Far from melting into a unique “household budget”, male money and female money remain differentiated inside the couple. An elementary analysis of the data of the survey “Family Budgeting” of the Insee shows that the money of each spouse is not always used for the same purpose: some expenses are clearly gendered. From an ethnographic point of view, what is observed is that the scope, terms and conditions of the pooling of resources within the couple are not a matter of course. The collective budget is more or less restricted, and its explicit negotiation is not always possible nor wished. Finally, when the woman earns less than the man and there is no common account, all households proceed in a way that is at the very opposite of what the notion of “supplementary income” would imply: the “small” salary of the woman serves as the basis for collective money.
N° 16, 2006 – The Aftermaths of Economic Violence
Physical Forces and Feminization of Construction Jobs
The objective of this article is to show that the notion of physical strength as a natural characteristic of men, counterpart to women’s fragility, is the result of the social construction of masculinity and feminity. We have focused on the building trade. In this sector, the notion of physical strength succeeded in both forbidding and hiding women’s presence. The building trade cannot be considered as a typical non-mixed trade, since women have always played an important role therein. However, it is constructed around characteristics of masculinity. Physical strength therefore appears to be a structural notion of the professions of this trade. Being a woman in the building trade is neither meaningless nor natural. For that reason, women who are nevertheless active in that field are either negated or confined to certain professions, tasks and functions.
Gao Yun, Florence Lévy and Véronique Poisson
From Migration to Work. Overexploitation of the Chinese in Paris
Vulnerability is at the heart of migrant itineraries of Chinese on their way to France. Vulnerability starts during the journey and carries on long after they arrived. Their trip often lasts several months in inhuman conditions. Reaching France does not put an end to their tribulation – quite the contrary. They find themselves in an illegal situation, stuck between the impossibility of obtaining a working permit and the necessary reimbursement of their debts as fast as possible. Underground economy, which provides most illegal jobs, and particularly ethnic economy appear to be the only possible outcome. This outcome results in extreme exploitation through work. This article highlights this exploitation, set up by employers that often stem from the Chinese community, and that can therefore easily profit from new migrants’ vulnerability.
Blanche Le Bihan-Youinou and Claude Martin
Working and Taking Care of a Dependent Elderly Parent
In this article, the authors analyze the situation of women who both deal with a full-time professional activity and the daily care for a parent or parent-in-law that is elderly and dependent. They analyze both how women organize this care and the impact it has on their personal, family and professional lives. Unlike in the case of care of young children, these women diminish their personal and family time to find the necessary time to face the pressure while preserving their professional involvement.
Women and Immigrants: Open to Ruthless Exploitation
In the service sector, thousands of women experience diffuse forms of salaried exploitation, almost invisible and socially tolerated. This article casts light on unqualified workforce management that uses the most vulnerable women on the workplace, especially immigrant women, as an adjustment variable. Based on a field research among housemaids, this article reveals the dark side of unstable jobs. These jobs, although permanent, do not protect from difficult working conditions nor from low wages or dishonest employers’ practices.
The Impact of Layoff: Men and Women in Turmoil
Two field researches were carried, one in 1999, the other between 2003 and 2005, among workers that were laid off in 1979 and 1983 following a shedding. Selective exclusion generates strong feelings of injustice and humiliation that are not brought about by a shutdown. The dismay that follows the layoff, mainly linked to estimates of job perspectives, is more frequent among women. Health problems that appear are gender specific. Among women, depressions settle on the long term. Social vulnerability set off by the layoff results in abnormally high death rates among men. Collective capital is destroyed. Definite mistrust of trade unionism among the dismissed is part of that destruction. The feeling of injustice is experienced in solitude. It nourishes resentment. It appears that the violence of layoffs is a hidden one.
N°13, 2005 – Women Bosses
Mayant Faty, Households and The Hustle and Bustle of a Maid
Domestic Organisation as Pedagogy
Paulette Bernège and the Making of a New Middle Class in the 1930s and 1940s
This article focuses on the movement for the rationalisation of the home, which developed in interwar France under the leadership of Paulette Bernège. It explores Bernège’s work as an educational project that sought to make a new middle-class woman and a new domestic environment for middle-class families. It highlights the interpenetration of the roles of rationaliser and educator, showing how Bernège drew on the pedagogical theories of the new education movement and on industrial methods, such as Taylorism and ergonomics, to shape the minds and bodies of her students. It is argued Bernège’s lessons in domestic organisation were, among other things, a means of inculcating self-discipline in those who studied them. At a secondary level, the rationalised woman and home were in turn to inculcate in their husbands and sons a disposition towards efficiency.
Clare Haru Crowston
The Queen and Her ‘Minister of Fashion’
Gender, Credit, and Politics in Pre-revolutionary France
This article explores the economic, cultural and political role of credit networks in the Ancient Régime through a study of the career of the fashion merchant Rose Bertin. It examines three aspects of the practices inherent to Rose Bertin’s credit networks: her implication in commercial credit networks, her manipulation of her reputation as a particular form of credit, and the way her enemies underlined her credit relations with Marie-Antoinette to discredit the political economy of the sex.
Women Business Leaders: The Case in France
Who are women entrepreneurs today? How many are they? How does a woman become an entrepreneur? Why start a company? This article answers these questions and several others on the basis of statistical data provided by the employment surveys of the French National Institute of Statistics, or INSEE, and of interviews of women entrepreneurs in the Parisian region. The article concentrates on women entrepreneurs who have employees. If women create or continue an enterprise, it is not to find a better use of capacities insufficiently recognized in their previous professions, but because they want to run a business. Entrepreneurship is the continuity of success. These women show traditionally female qualities in the choice of the activity field and of the types of management. Mostly active in the service sector, they are more successful than men in that field. Access to the function of head of company through succession is an exception to this rule: the professional path is more often sustained than chosen, the fields of activity are more diverse, and the satisfaction is lesser.
Women Mountain Guides: Types of Involvement and Link to the Job
The profession of mountain guide opened up to women since the mid-80s in France, but it is mostly a man’s job nowadays. This article analyzes the social conditions to women’s involvement in this profession, as well as their professional careers and their link to the job. Two types of discoveries of mountain activities (early and family-based / late and in male company), as well as a gendered socialization in childhood in the midst of the male peer group, favor women’s involvement in sportive mountain activities. If a liking for these activities results from specific initiation modes, their conversion into a professional activity takes place at the end of a long and difficult process. Women enter the profession relatively late in their lives, among other reasons because of their difficulty in building a “reputation credit” strong enough to grant them access to training. Furthermore, women guides often practice their jobs in less than attractive conditions. For mothers, it is all the more difficult to succeed in their careers as they live with male mountain guides with few cultural assets. For others, not having children appears to be an indispensable choice for their professional involvement. Finally, in order to position themselves on a male-dominated job market, women guides mainly favor a so-called feminine approach to their profession, particularly through socialization. By carefully and repetitively explaining their approach to sometimes worried clients, they attract a specific customership and position themselves favorably in times of major concern with security issues.
Reframing Business Realities
A Look back into the Future of American Business History
Women have always been in business and some women have been more enterprising than others. But until relatively recently, business women were missing in action from the dominant narratives of both women’s and business history. A recent hit American television series, “The Apprentice,” has cast a spotlight on the interactions of young American business women and business men in the workplace. This paper uses “The Apprentice” as the starting point of an examination into the history and historiography of women in business. It seeks answers to a complex and daunting question: why, in the most individualistic, market- oriented society in the world, have women and men carved such separate and distinctive tracks through the business world?
Women, Businesses, and Dependence
Foreign Women Entrepreneurs in Paris between the Two World Wars
Does being the “boss” result in emancipation for a woman and a foreigner? The study of immigrant women’s part-taking in Parisian small companies between the two World Wars provides a few answers to this question. His article states the importance of women’s involvement in the world of shops and workshops, an involvement that often proved vital to the activity itself, although there is no evidence of it in administrative records. To carry a survey of women in the world of independence questions the links between the economic and the family spheres. Furthermore, observing small foreign companies becomes quite complex when one takes into account the position of women enterpreneurs within the professional, urban and economic strategies of immigrants.
N°14, 2005 – Science, Research, and Gender
Gisèle Halimi. The Cause of Feminism
Sandra Beaufaÿs and Beate Krais
Women in Scientific Careers in Germany: The Hidden Mechanisms of Power
Every year, European Union statistics show that women in top scientific careers are under-represented. Germany is one of the countries in which women are very rare in these positions. Until recently, research would look for explanations within women’s lives themselves, investigating their areas of interest, the specific way in which they would manage their careers, their personality as « unfit for science », etc. Our survey investigates the scientific field, not women. The article deals with organization, social relations and interactions while producing scientific results. Such a context is not neutral, as shown in the article: it is based upon gendered social links. On the basis of two empirical surveys, the analysis shows that the non-recognition of women as « co-players » in the scientific field is central to a number of complex conditions that lead to the exclusion of women from scientific careers.
Obscuring or Enlightenment? Science and Research Facing Gender Challenges
This article interprets the way in which contemporary social sciences have envisaged the links between women (later on, gender), sciences and research over the past 30 years. The objective is to highlight the vitality of these fields, their empirical, methodological and theoretical diversity, their relations to broader social and political reflections, and their limits as well as their potential. As was historically the case for these works, the article first questions the – classical – question of the place and share of women in science and knowledge production. The initial question: « Who could (who can) produce science in occidental societies? » gives way to a series of
whereas linked to the way sciences are ordinarily produced and fit in the dominant values and cultures of an epoch. They actually contribute to defining and redefining social relations, particularly those that are gendered. The article finally attempts to highlight three contributions of this critical field: gendered studies transformed and will transform ordinary conceptions of what sciences are, providing a more realistic vision of them; women’s contribution to sciences (social and exact) should be thought of as an opportunity to enrich sciences and make them universal; the opening of research to society and the very diversity of its parts should be on the agenda of the world of research in the future. This opening concerns the legitimate actors of the production of knowledge as well as the definition of its components and agendas and the evaluation of its practices.
Memory Is Not Neutral
Memories of Women at the Faculty of Science and Technology of Nantes, France
This text explores scholars’ memories in order to apprehend dynamics of gendered social links in a faculty counting very few women, the faculty of science and technical objects of Nantes, France. It is considered that the social position is a determining factor in the structure, form and range of memory. In the female professors’ memories, the androcentrism of the institution is flagrant. In the researchers’ and professors’ professional life stories, the strong vertical and horizontal job segregation within the institution is obvious, even at such high ranks in the hierarchy. However, approaching the matter through memory excludes any kind of dwelling on sordid reality: women play with the heterogeneous nature of their job to build careers in accordance with their ambitions.
Has Feminism Modified Biomedical Research?
The Women’s Health Movement and Changes in Medicine in the US
According to certain observers, medicine has radically changed under the pressures both of the feminist movement and of female doctors, whose numbers steadily increase in the profession. This article examines the validity of such a statement as well as the contribution of the women’s movement to the modification of medical practice, examining in particular the impact of the Women’s Health Movement on women’s and doctors’ attitudes. This movement challenged the expert’s power, proclaimed women’s right to take charge of their bodies, and developed alternative medical structures ran both by professionals and by militants. If the amazing radical charge carried by the WHM in the 1970s weakened later on, actions inspired by that movement continue to shape medicine and biomedical research in the USA.
Catherine Marry and Irène Jonas
Researchers between Two Passions. The Example of Biologists
The academic world does not escape the glass ceiling nor the leaden sky that weighs upon women’s careers: in all fields, their share declines as one escalates the hierarchy of ranks and honors. On the basis of statistical data and interviews, this article offers possible explanations to these gendered inequalities in the academic world by exploring part of the leaden sky that weighs upon female researchers in natural sciences in France. It focuses on the subjective dimension, i.e. on pleasure and sufferance inherent to the profession of researcher, as well as on the contradictions between the schedule of an ideal researcher and that of a mother. What is the meaning of recognizing the time spent educating one’s children in retirement benefits when the status of housewife is that of fewer and fewer women among the generations that will retire in the years to come? The question of equal rights between mothers and fathers in the French public service emerged since the Griesmar case. It had to be dealt with when the retirement system was reformed. However, the fundamental question of equal rights to retirement between men and women still need to be dealt with. Beyond the strict question of genders, that of family rights is still unanswered.
Children’s Education and Rights to Retirement
What is the meaning of the recognition of the time spent educating one’s children in retirement benefits when the status of housewife is that of fewer and fewer women within the generations that will retire in the years to come? The question of equal rights between mothers and fathers in the French public service emerged since the Griesmar case. It had to be dealt with when the retirement system was reformed. However, equal rights to retirement between men and women still need to be enforced. Beyond the strict question of genders, that of family rights is still unanswered.
N°11, 2004 – Statistics: back to basics
Professions in the feminine: statistical representation, social construction
The presence of women on the workplace is far from obvious, whether in statistics or in reality. Evidence of this can be found in the list of professions and of social and professional categories of the Insee, the French National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies: with regard to male professions, which are most often described with detailed precision, female professions are grouped in statistical aggregates without any precise form nor content. Their number is one third that of male professions, whereas female professions gather three times more workers. The statistical concentration of female jobs reflects a double segregation, both real and symbolic: firstly, women have little access to a majority of professions; secondly, the professions they exercise take up little space in the list. This concentration results from a gendered social and political construction of professions and of qualifications that can be found even in the definitions of the categories and rules of the statistical classification. Far from neutral (how could it be?), the list of professions and of social and professional categories repertories and prolongates unequal professional representations of men and women.
The invention of inactivity
This article is in pursuit of the genesis of the concept of inactivity, which is naturally used to refer to housewives and to farmers’ spouses. This concept is first defined in the census of 1896, when the active population is opposed to the idlers, the frontier between the two being the subject of great debates at the time. Inactivity is always defined relatively to its opposite, activity, as defined by the political economy born in the 18th century with Adam Smith, and later the physiocrats, who try to understand the laws that govern economy in order to influence it. The invention of the adjective inactive takes place at the same time. It initially describes an inert substance or an effectless remedy in research in physics and chemistry. If ”economists” have excluded the domestic sphere from productive work as an area on which politics could not have an impact, it was because they were in search of action on society. By limiting their field of action to the quantifiable, as did Malthus, they fail to acknowledge the symbolic dimension as well as the creation of social links inherent to any exchange.
Unemployment versus employment rates, another look at european objectives
As an objective of the employment policy, and particularly of the European strategy for employment, the introduction of the employment rate preferably to the unemployment rate reveals how the acceptable categories of the social debate are constructed. The main impact of this choice is to focus attention on those categories which may have an exceptionally variable employment rate. The agreement could only be settled on the basis of ambiguity. On the one hand, increasing the employment rate can be shown as a precondition to respecting the universal right to work. On the other hand, in the name of this objective, policies are justified that aim at attracting the inactive on the labor market as well as forcing those employed to accept jobs the way they are offered. The potential contradictions between these two approaches appear clearly in the case of female employment.
Pierre Leroux and Philippe Teillet
The harnessing of feminism in a campaign
The problematic place given to women in politics in France, as well as new perspectives stemming from rules relative to equal representation, question the role of gender in the electoral exchange. Beyond appearances, which hide how much the political world is male-dominated, female involvement in politics shows how dangerous any promotion of “feminism” and of “gender issues” can be. Through the study of the emblematic example of a female minister campaigning for general elections, this article shows to which extent the management of public identity and of the “feminist” inheritage imposes a “domesticated” form of the latter.
The homeless or badly housed
In order to carry a statistical survey, one must give a precise definition of the field of survey and find a method that covers that field as completely as possible. Beyond the “spontaneous” definition of the homeless linked to their visibility, French statisticians have chosen a definition that refers to the housing situation only, independantly from other factors such as the breaking-off of social relations or mental illness, which are part of the common representation of the homeless. However, in each “housing situation”, whether an emergency housing center, a long-term hostel, or the street, the structure of the population is different, especially as regards gender. Furthermore, the self-perception of the inquiree’s situation influences his or her answers and must be taken into account when the results are interpreted. But these difficulties in defining and constructing categories are also instructive: they show the limits of statistical tools and of the type of vision they offer of reality; they also increase the knowledge of the universe these statistics are based on.
The strategic use of gender in an election campaign
The particular position of a female candidate (for the French general elections of 2002, for the socialist party, against Alain Juppé in the second district of the French department of Gironde) reveals gender as a political resource, despite the fall of the theme of equal representation after April 21st, 2002. This particular observation presents gender exclusively as a means, as does the practical will to identify utilitarianism in a world of militants. However, it helps to identify the constraints of this particular strategic identity. As an individual resource, the claim to female identity must respect certain limits, both collective and individual. This claim is perceived in many contradictory ways by the militants, both within the party and outside, towards the electors. If this resource is individually useless, in the context of equal representation, it is collectively available, even if its usefulness mainly depends on the degree of politicization of the elections.
Poor workers: identification of a category
The « poor workers » category is based on two concepts: that of work and that of poverty. This hybrid category is at the crossroads of two statistical units: the individual and the household. The article focuses on the particularly interesting puzzle that stems from certain characteristics of this population, mingled with other information and a gendered approach to the subject. Whereas women and men on average run an equal risk of experiencing poverty (equal representation!), and women represent a vast majority of the workers whose employment characteristics are unfavourable, the majority of poor workers are men. More than a paradox, this puzzle highlights the two inequalities between men and women: inequality of access to the labour market on the one hand, inequality within the labour market on the other hand.
Thibaut de Saint Pol, Aurélie Deney and Olivier Monso
Household and head of household: two fixed notions
Since 1982, the household does not designate its « chief » on its own. It is determined by a systematic rule which opts for the man in the couple. Statisticians have ratified a male vision of society which originates in a traditional representation of the family hierarchy, which is more or less visible in the French censuses of the past two centuries. The user must thus keep in mind that the this rule imposes a certain approach of society. Present attempts to introduce new concepts (replacement of the household by a life unit, economic criteria in the designation of the head of the household…) must compensate for the imperfections of the preceding tools while preserving the handiness which, together with a historical anchoring, gives them an undeniable competitive advantage.
The body at work
How does a man envisage to be a midwife ?
The profession of midwife, profoundly gendered, has been chosen by a few men since 1982, when it was opened to them. However, because of a change in the recruitment process, in which future midwives will need to follow the first year of medical school, the chances are high to see the presence of men rise in this profession. The school of Grenoble has been experimenting this to understand the present professional evolutions. On the basis of the speech of twelve male students of this school, their forms of professional integration will be analyzed, as well as the answers to two questions : are male midwifes a new professional segment or not ? What role do they think they will play in the professionalization presently under way ?
Reflections on the links between virility and management.
The point of view of homosexual managers
Modern virility has not often been studied in relation to the question of work and of organizations. In a social and historical perspective, the author reminds us how virility was built, as early as the second half of the 18th century, on the basis of two counterpoints: women and homosexuals. Three institutions are detailed (Army, Sport and Medicine) before the Enterprise is analyzed, another “house-of-men” where managers, career and management systems play a key role in male domination. The results of a questionnaire survey among 194 homosexual managers finally bring evidence that some kind of compliance control with virile principles takes place when ones reaches a powerful position in the organization. Through the representations of the dominated, the homophobic lines and strategies were particularly investigated, as well as the virile tests, their mask strategies and the consequences of these discriminations, inequalities and abuses on their health.
The female body between science and guilt. The story of cellulite
This article recalls the emergence of a new object in scientific speeches of the beginning of the 20th century, the “cellulite”, and its advent in two French magazines of the 1930s, “Votre Beauté” and “Marie-Claire”. Cellulite, before its “invention”, was only but female adult flesh to be found by physicians all over the body (ankles, the abdominal region, event the nape of the neck). The words used to describe this flesh turned it into something “pathological” that marked both bodily and moral ugliness (since cellulite resulted from the neglect of those “letting themselves go”). Our aim is actually to show how the cruisade against “cellulite” produced and reproduced a certain construction of the “feminine”, and in which way this cruisade matched the idea of the individual responsible for his physical condition. Beauty is not a grace, but the visible proof of a volontary work on the body: we will show the moral feeling of guilt linked to obesity between the two World Wars. We will also examine the speeches at the time, sketching an uhealthy female body and its degeneration, as well as its intoxication due to life in big cities and female work. These speeches resulted in an accusation of modernity itself.
Karen Messing, Maude Randoin, France Tissot, Geneviève Rail, Sylvie Fortin
Useless sufferance : static standing postures in the service sector
Prolonged standing posture, observed among a majority of Quebecer female workers, is associated with cardiovascular troubles and pain in the back, legs and feet. Indeed, two out of the five most feminized professions require a standing posture both prolonged and relatively static. This posture constraint is typical of certain female professional exposures in the sense that the effort produces little evidence of visible impact on the short term. Despite pain reports, resistance to change is important. The present article gives an account of the results of several studies on women’s postures at work, the physiological consequences of the prolonged static standing posture, and the attitudes of women and men faced with the standing posture, in order to understand why resistance is so high.
Part-time work in Poland : a bluff of the gendered segmentation of the labor market
The article starts by stating the relatively low feminization rate of part time work in Poland. On the basis of the computing of basic data of the Polish employment survey, but also of a field study that lasted three years, the hidden facts behind this reality are considered from the angle of the characteristics of part-time work in Poland, but also of the role played by working hours in the gendered segmentation of professions. Polish part time employment is not merely a gendered scorer: it is first of all a palliative to the shortcomings of the Welfare State. It forces the beneficiaries of transfer incomes to maintain a professional activity. However, working hours are a key to the understanding of the reconstruction of new gender inequalities on the workplace. Confronted with intensification and extension of working hours, men and women adopt different strategies. One of the most direct effects of this evolution is the increase of the gendered segmentation of professions and of unemployment.
Being a contemporary dancer : a “body and soul” career
The dancer’s body has been the heart of the quasi ideological stakes underlying the will to break away from academism. Moving away from the model of the classical dancer, the contemporary dancer appears to have freed herself from the physical and moral constraints particularly imposed in training institutions. However, the enquiry shows that a stereotyped female body model continues to be imposed in other ways. The labor market of contemporary dance thus reveals the discrepancy between the ideological speech specific to the field of contemporary dance (multiple female physiques allowed to dance, prime interest in the “singularity” of the individual) and the requirements to obtain a job on the labor market of contemporary dance. Finally, the resonance of job constraints in the intimate field (choice of partner, maternity) illustrate the ambiguity of a profession that considers itself a “liberation” and a “vocation”.
N°9, 2003 – Girls and boys: for better and for worse
Abortion : a conceded right that remains to be conquered
This article is based on the testimonies of women gathered through participative observation of mandatory interviews prior to abortion. These women explain which obstacles they had to overcome to abort. Part of their difficulties, or even sufferance, result from the judgements of professionals in the medical and social fields, or from close ones, or even inherent to articles of law. It can only be observed that abortion still is a moral stigma thirty years after its legalization. The only way to avoid being stigmatized is to go through abortion entirely secretly. The N.G.O. X, where the fieldwork took place, defends women’s rights and aims therefore to suppress the mandatory interview. Its consultants have set up special conditions for this interview so as to avoid the social control of the interviewees, as the law asks them to. Thus reassured, women reveal the real reasons for their decision and their own moral positioning on the subject of abortion, that remains socially unaccepted.
The game of love and friendship in high-school : interactions
Instead of studying the unilateral influence of one’s age group on sexual behavior of youngsters, this article studies the transformations of the group of friends of secondary school students experiencing their first sexual relations, on the basis of quantitative and qualitative data gathered among students aged 15 to 18. Sexual initiation of youngsters is part of the process of development of heterosexual relations, a process that is different for boys and for girls. Girls develop relational environments that are more open to both sexes than those of boys, so that the male component of teenage sociability networks always seems more important. Furthermore, girls’ networks of friends are always more influenced by love or by sexual relations than that of boys. They adopt the friends of their partner more frequently than boys, sometimes to the detriment of their own friends. Girls seem to experience a “relational nomadism” that fluctuates according to their love affairs, reflecting a type of domination of male networks in teenage sociability that appears together with the first sexual relations.
Nicole Mosconi and Rosine Dahl-Lanotte
It is technical : is it for her ? Girls in industrial and technical options in high-schools
Based on the analysis of interviews, this article describes the schooling experience of girls who have chosen non-traditional options such as technology, civil engineering or thermal engineering. The subject is tackled from various angles : the motives behind their choice ; their relations with boys they study with : from the favorable dispositions of a few to resistance of the majority, as shown by sexist jokes as well as overprotection, isolation or relegation to low-ranking tasks in the workshops ; relations with the professors, helpful in some cases, more of less discriminatory in other cases ; finally, their professional projects, some girls hoping to access a job related to their training, others drawing pessimistic conclusions from their internships as to their professional insertion, and therefore envisaging a more or less complete reorientation. The division of territories that turns technical and industrial jobs into male territories is still vivid and turns female presence into an everyday struggle.
Female professionalization and feminization of a profession : music performers
As in other qualified professions, the access of women to musical practice as professionals is recent and unachieved. As performers, and particularly as instrumentalists, female musicians have joined permanent symphonic orchestras in the second half of the 20th century, but not in all positions and roles : the division of labor remains strong and limits women’s access to positions of responsibility such as soloists or conductors. The article studies the feminization of professions in the orchestra by confronting it to female progression in other professions and on the job market in general. By examining the successive steps of quantitative feminization as well as the differences in the process of professionalization for men and for women, this article questions the links between feminization and the fears it arises, and therefore the value gains or losses of this professional activity. The relations between the transformation of professions in the orchestra and their feminization do not reveal a general worsening of the activity. Observing such relations shows to which extent the perception of the situation varies according to the positioning of the actors.
Deviant behaviors of teenagers in working-class neighborhoods : why and how to be villainous
Surveys of self-declared delinquency or “victimation” show a lesser participation of girls – in comparison to boys – to offences and deviances. However, by acknowledging the implication of female adolescents in certain forms of violence, one is led to grasp these violent behaviors through the study of the “anthropological complexity of this violence” . We compare the results of these studies, particularly the study carried by Eric Debarbieux on the atmosphere in schools, to official statistics relative to delinquency. This confrontation furnishes the first answers to the question of girls’ implication in violent behavior and the specificity of their deviant behavior. Ethnographic studies on juveniles socialization of female teenagers of working-class neighborhoods in Marseille, Paris and Bordeaux were carried out jointly with the national study of the atmosphere in schools. If female teenagers generally have better relations in school than their male counterparts, some of them reject the culture of school. They sometimes adopt violent behaviors, verbally and physically, with their peers as well as with adults, undermine morally those considered “weak”, or commit offences. If these “challenges” are deviant and reprehensible for the legitimate culture, they have an entirely different meaning where the law of the strongest prevails, and this law applies to the mechanisms of juvenile socialization of teenagers in working-class neighborhoods. These “violent” behaviors demonstrate the social status acquired among the peers ; they also become a privileged type of relation of female “villainous” with teenagers.
Relations between girls and boys : from chaperoning to mixing of sexes 1870-1970)
Relations between young people of the two sexes have always given rise to adults’ attention, who fear the consequences of love games. They take place under the watchful eye of parents and the kin group. However, during the century spreading from 1870 to 1970, youngsters have progressively reached emancipation by rejecting the family’s tutelage to obtain the freedom to go out and enjoy themselves in the company of their peers. The chaperoning at the start of the Third Republic thus fades out while the mixing of sexes rises : at work, on tennis courts, in schools, where coeducation appears between the two World Wars and becomes commonplace in the 1960s. The mixing of sexes in leisure activities, the market of which takes off at the turn of the century, defeats controls all the more as youngsters increasingly marry for love, thus taking responsibility for the meeting and the choice of the partner. Under such conditions, parents, increasingly concerned with the happiness of their children, moved on from banning and chaperoning first to retrospective control, then to confidence based on reciprocal responsibility. Young women were the primary beneficiaries of the slackening of surveillance and conquered, with some delay and after a tenacious struggle, the same rights as young men.
The invention of new types of flirting among Muslim Pomacs in Greece : structures, history and strategies
The article describes the invention of new types of encounters among young Pomacs (Muslims living in Greece). These encounters, observed in 1997 in six different villages, offer daily and nearly institutionalized flirting. Their structural form varies from village to village according to the age of the participants, the timing of the encounter (night of day), the presence of music or not, the type of female outfit and the way of wearing it, the degree of individualization and of mixing of sexes of encounters, the physical distance between girls and boys, the mobility of the various actors, etc. Each village has its own particular combination of features. The selection of one of these structural forms is the product of several constraints such as the value system linked to the antiquity of emigration, and the physical and social organization of space. The movement of liberation started by the youngsters (especially the girls) is the product of a number of collective and individual strategies that find a way around the state of power relations between the sexes as well as the generarions in a given village, in such a way that too spectacular an advance in one field (ex : a night encounter) sometimes leads to wearing the traditional outfit (ex : chador).
Prostitution: markets, organization, mobilization
Cristina Bruschini and Maria Rosa Lombardi
Men and women on the labor market of Brazil : a panorama of the Nineties
This text proposes a comparative analysis of the position of the women and men on the labor market in Brazil during the Nineties. It takes as reference the years which open and close this decade as two significant years for the Brazilian economy, i.e. the years 1993 and 1995. The objective is to give a greater temporal depth to the former analyses while exploring new angles of sight such as the distinction of race/coulor and the level of schooling of women and men, which is determining for the obtention of better jobs or the exercice of recognized professions. This article is based mainly on the data of the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), of the Ministry of Labour and Employment (MTE) and of the Ministry of Education (MEC). This data is available on internet. Bruschini, Cristina, Lombardi Maria Rosa, Banco de Dados sobre o Trabalho das Mulheres, Fundação Carlos Chagas, 1998 [http://www.fcc.org.br].
Chen Mei Hua
Contradictory Male Sexual Desires: Masculinity, Lifestyles and Sexuality among Prostitutes’ Clients in Taiwan
Most feminist studies see prostitution as an explicit expression of masculinity, while neglecting the differences among clients and diverse social meanings that clients seek in prostitution. Based on in-depth interviews with Taiwanese clients and sex workers, this paper will analyze clients’ use of prostitutes in terms of gendered sexuality and class. The paper analyze how clients who come from different social classes understand their sexual encounters with prostitutes differently; how they negotiate the contradiction and social morality surrounding prostitution, such as the stigma of punters, fidelity in marriage and objectifying women as sexual commodities. Nonetheless, I contest the ideology of the ‘male sexual urge’ which underpins Taiwanese prostitution and argue that some sexual consumption is indeed a well-planned consumption, especially for those respectable middle-class men. Above all, I argue that clients’ emotional demands, always presented as ‘not just sex’, are highly related to their conception of ‘good sex’.
Local Particularities, International Generalities : Traffic in Women in southeast Europe
This article relates feminist debates on trafficking in women and prostitution to human rights discourses and policies, to assess proposals to ease women’s situations. The question of how prostitution is politically framed can decide and formulate adopted policy strategies, with neighbouring countries taking radically different approaches to legislation. Issues of women’s agency, victimisation and resistance are central. Traffic in women by its nature entails situations of violence and social control and complexities between migration, human trafficking and smuggling are apparent . The brief mapping of trafficking in women in southeast Europe (SEE) focuses primarily on the impact of militarization on some societies of the former Yugoslavia. Traffic in women in militarised conditions synthesises the use of force and social control of women into prostitution in particular ways. Criminal and human rights legislation sits uneasily with military actions, and UN sanctions, in reinforcing or attempting to combat such human rights abuses. Issues of shaming women and moral judgements against women (socially and intellectually) loom large in much discussion of these issues. Practical changes to legislation with regard to human rights and migration are considered by some feminist analysts to generate workable conditions to combat key aspects of the traffic in women.
I am a prostitute, you will be a sex worker, an impossible filiation
This article offers an overview of the history of clinical research on prostitution at the university and in various NGOs, with the aim to go beyond its findings. If one can indicate what would characterize the psychic positioning of the prostitute, it is more difficult to describe the mechanisms, between injunction and the building of a fourth character, which take part of the declaration: « I am a prostitute ». It would be a mistake to deprive the prostitute of any erotology in the practice od her job. This erotology can be a part of the search for oneself and contribute to an experiment of subjectivation between word and opening of the body. The author focuses on the modern figure of the prostitute built by our times, as well as on what is at stake when an individual is told that (s)he is a « worker of the sex ».
Prostitutes and feminists in 1975 and 2002 : the impossible reconduction of an alliance
Confronted with police repression both in 1975 and in 2002, prostitutes tried to rally on both occasions. During their first protest, despite profoundly diverging views on prostitution, they could rely on the active support of abolitionist and feminist activists. Such an alliance could not be renewed 27 years later. The reasons for the withdrawal of previous supporters of the cause of prostitutes lie within the evolutions that took place between 1975 and 2002, whether in the world of prostitution, in medical and social care provided to prostitutes, or in feminist reflection and activism.
Bucolic and immured, prostitutes and the Vichy administration
Back in the dark years of France, prostitution takes shape in strange ways. If the venal activity does not undergo radical transformations, it remains nevertheless that the conditions created by the Occupation, intensified by a most conservative administration, have altered the decisional sphere and given way to original practices. On the basis of unexploited legal records, this article describes several aspects of prostitutionin France under the Vichy administration, while preserving the point of view of the prostitute and of the exercise of her profession.
N° 7, 2002 – Equality, equal reprensentation, discrimination: carrying on
Nadya Araujo Guimaraes
The gender of mobility : Industrial work in the Brazil of the 90’s
The article focuses on the inter-sectorial mobility of industrial workers in Brazil based on longitudinal data from the Brazilian Ministry of Labor on hired and dismissed workers during the 90´s. Comparing two industries in two regional labor markets, the author argues that gender differences are important to understand patterns of mobility on formal labor markets independent from the degree of their formality, the sectors´ differing patterns of permeability to women´s work and the nature of their restructuring process.
Equal gender representation, an overworked expression
Debates and arguments have promoted political action in favor of equal gender representation. As the law is being implemented, it is a good time to sit back and think the issue over. Memories and first assessments add up. Additionally to the mathematical aspect of equal gender representation, a confusion of this notion with that of equality has proven to be both positive and negative. The transfers of meaning and the fantasies about the so-called values specific to each gender have ignored the mathematical value of equal gender representation, triggering quarrels so outdated they seemed sometimes surprising. Fear is often present in debates among democrats, and the neuter is referred to as a guarantee. But the neuter has a better role to play, that of a fiction that is historically dynamic.
Promoting equal opportunity : legal framework and actors’ mobilization in Italy
During the decade that followed the implementation of the Italian law 125, moving from equal pay to equal opportunity has been an important step and the last achievement of the women’s movement. It has been made possible by the efforts of a vast network of institutional and conventional organizations to promote a culture of positive discrimination in favor of women aimed at correcting existing imbalances and perfecting the tools used to fight discrimination. This institutional mobilization, in spite of the refinement of techniques and a rather broad awareness campaign, has rarely had a lasting impact on organizational politics of companies and trade unions, which have never considered professional equality to be a priority. The law relative to parental leave and the reform of the position of equality advisor aimed at renewing organizational commitment to effective conditions for equality : the change in culture of the new government seems to have frozen those reforms.
Nathalie Havet and Catherine Sofer
The new economic theories on discrimination
Can economic theories reflect the comparative situation of men and women on the workplace ? The first discrimination models predicted a spontaneous disappearance of discrepancies. The second generation models are better suited than the first to formalize and explain a number of observations on the workplace : persisting pay differentials, partial gender segregation of jobs on the workplace, but also discrepancies in career developments, overrepresentation of men in the most qualified positions, as well as greater promotion difficulties and over-qualification of women. These models resort to recent innovations in work economics such as the job search theory, the matching theory, or present works on asymmetrical information.
Equal gender representation in politics
The law “aiming at favoring women and men’s equal access to terms of office and elective positions” was passed on June 6, 2000 after numerous debates and combats. From now on, in France – and for the first time in the world – for most elections, candidates will have to be half women, half men. The law was applied twice in 2001. This article relates the history of the law and assesses the elections subjected to it, as well as those that were not, in order to determine whether the former drove the latter towards equal representation.
Destabilizing laid-off female workers
The analysis, over a period of eighteen years, of the professional paths on 108 female workers laid off in the valley of la Bruche, close to Strasbourg, reveals that the majority of them have been destabilized on the long term. The job deficit favors withdrawals from working life. Linked to age and to family situations, these withdrawals are always linked to gender inequalities. However, women remain strongly determined to hold a job anew. The functioning of the female job market, together with family life constraints, tend to maintain laid-off female workers in the same region, whereas male workers migrate daily in great numbers. The mode of access to a new job strongly determines its nature, degree of stability and localization. The help of a relative often leads to stable positions, mostly in the service sector. Laid-off female workers with a weaker social network at their disposal have more difficulties escaping long-term professional instability. This instability often results in harder working conditions.
Women workers: the hidden side of the upturn
Were wage earners in the trade sector employees ?
[Professional paths of wage earners of the Grand Bazar of Lyon (a departement store – a translator’s note)
in the 19th and 20th centuries]
Professional paths of wage earners of the Grand Bazar of Lyon in the 19th and 20th centuries, profoundly affected by instability, contradict the usual opposition of the employee category to factory workers in historical studies. Firstly, employment conditions and wages offered by the Grand Bazar are not of the kind that the employee status should provide, i.e. clearly better than that of the working class. Secondly, the positions successively or even simultaneously occupied by these wage earners in the course of their career, those on the workplace common to all activity sectors, do not enable the identification of the wage earners of the Grand Bazar as employees and confirm that since the 19th century, at least part of factory worker positions and employee positions are held by the same categories.
Stéphane Beaud and Michel Pialoux
Young factory workers. Research on male/female competition and the challenge of workers/masculinity
Starting from a long-term field study in the French region of Sochaux-Montbéliard, which has a dense working class population, the authors analyze recent transformations of the labor market linked to the strong economic recovery of the years 1998 to 2001. They focus on how youngsters from poor housing estates, usually excluded from companies, massively joined the workforce via temp work positions at the factory of Sochaux and car equipment manufacturers. The comparison of attitudes on the workplace revealed by interviews, whether with young workers, male or female, or with olders workers and foremen favors female (« serious », « motivated », « sociable ») over male. The latter, often prisoners of a « street culture », that has been theirs, their teenage years through, find that their workers’masculinity is challenged at work.
Elizabeth Brown, Dominique Fougeyrollas-Schwebel and Maryse Jaspard
Conciliation at its height. Violence on the workplace and violence of the spouse
The national survey of violences against women in France (the Enveff survey) casts a new light on the conciliation of work and family, different from what time and space constraints ordinarily reveal. Gender discrepancies an often analyzed from the angle of constraints imposed on women at work and in the family : men benefit from a tangible freedom. The Enveff survey directly links violences at work over the past twelve months with situations in relationships. The many faces of violence are analyzed : interpersonal, verbal, psychological, physical or sexual, perpetrated within the work environment and by the spouse.
In the majority of cases, professionnel activity and marital life do not appear to be incompatible, provided that the conciliation of both lives is accomplished in harmony, since the least difficulty gives way to cumulative effects of violences in both spheres.
Sacked women : Exiled and at loose ends
As one studies the career path of laid-off female workers in the textile industry over several years, one realizes that the classical arguments referring to their lack of motivation, mobility and autonomy as well as to the rough realities of the labor market do not hold. As women, they have been twice, or even thrice the victims of the indifferent inertia of the political and social environment that tends to ignore the right to hold a consistent job to the unemployed that do not recognized qualifications. Not only have they been deprived of work : they have also been deprived, in the name of the « mourning » of their ex-firms and of the realism of « modern jobs », of their past history and of the possibility of getting involved in a future salaried activity with dignity. Often experienced together with the sufferance of being at loose ends, this internal exile is the result of the negation of their identity of active women by their circle of friends and family. It stems from the ideology of the dependent spouse, dedicated to sacrifice for the close ones, and at the service of others.
Female workers in Russia : gender confusion and job insecurity
Female workers in Russia have experienced a profound deterioration of their situation due to the social transformations of the market. These transformations worsen the gendered division of labor and the discriminations they experience. Most of all, they submit most of the workers to a great instability, which forces them to develop resourcefulness of every kind. Male workers are mainly in charge of resourcefulness in the professional sphere, whereas women manage the domestic sphere physically and, more importantly, nervoulsly. Discriminations and gendered division of labor are linked to social representations that favor women as mothers and embodiments of feminity. In actual fact, the female workers is first and foremost a casual worker who wastes her life trying to earn a living. This main characteristic makes her life quite similar to that of male workers. To fully understand the condition of female workers, the question of gender must therefore be linked to the deconstruction of the workers’entity.
Michel Gollac and Serge Volkoff
Putting gendered stereotypes to work : working conditions of female workers
The segmentation of workers according to gender appears to be a caricatural result of certain stereoptypes, accordind to statistical surveys of working conditions. Constraint, repetition and isolation caharacterize the jobs of the female workers. On the other hand, they are relatively protected if not from the constraints, at least from the most violent attacks on physical integrity. Furthermore, their schedules are supposed to be compatible with an intense extra-professional activity. Considerable modifications of working conditions and work organization took place without changing the relative positions of male and female workers. The working conditions of female workers are not clearly identified. They are presented as the natural characteristics of « female » work, which is an obstacle to their improvment.
Martine Lurol and Jérôme Pélisse
The 35-hour week of men and women
Based on the example of three companies having signed the Aubry I agreements, of various sizes, fields of activity and localizations, Martine Lurol and Jérôme Pélisse analyze the question of the gendered differences in the implementation of the 35-hour week. In all three companies under scruting, the differenciated representation of work implicitely impact the choice made in the type of reduction of working hours, such choices backfiring by reinforcing the gendered treatment discrepancies. For example, professional equality, clearly identified in the social balance sheet of a company, is only an expression, since management practices of personnel are gendered and linked to the representations of female employment that employers and employees hold. These practices result in different leave days for men and for women. In an other company, the increase of flexibility, together with irregular working schedules and variations in the number of daily hours resulting from the annualization of the 35-hour week, do not promote the development of a « freed » working schedule, in particular with non-qualified women. In the third company, the fact that the agreement is not applied to a specific category of personnel shows that working hours reveal and highlight gender and social inequalities. Furthermore, interviews with couples working for the same company provide more information on the tensions and negociations that take place in private life, where the sharing out of tasks does not go without saying.
Women and the labor market in Quebec and in Canada
This article is an introduction to the situation of women of the Canadian and Quebec labor markets. It indicates that the female participation rate in the labor force, and especially that of women with children, has considerably increased over the past decades. Furthermore, as children grow up, the female participation rate increases. However, women often find jobs that are casual and atypical. In the present context of destandardization of jobs and of flexible hours, women sometimes painfully experience the combination of work and family.
N°5, 2001 – Harassment and violence: pain at work
Examining violence within companies : company medical officers testify
New work organizations and management techniques have rationalized the use of women and men as profitability tools, thus obliterating the question of work. Employment as a prime concern probably gave rise to reinforced relationships of domination, while, in the public sphere, the recognition of citizenship softly became obvious and lowered the level of tolerance to “mistreatments” in the private workfield. Media coverage of the phenomenon referred to as “mobbing” revealed what was painfully expe-rienced by individuals without others around them knowing it, and the power of speach was suddenly released. Company medical officers acknowledged this process in their daily professional activities, massively as concerns women, but also, and maybe differently, as concerns men. These disturbing revelations take multiple forms and have disastrous consequences for health. The article will deal with these experiences.
Is mobbing a gendered harassment ? The difficulties of a legal approach
If one sticks to primary evidence, female voices seem more present than male ones in the fight against harassment. However, the analysis of legal decisions does not clearly lead to evidence of a specific treatment to the detriment of female employees. If the process of harassment, through its techniques, its goals and its sources as identified in legal precedents does not, at this point, produce evidence of a striking specificity linked to gender, the consequences of possible new articles to be inserted in the work legislation must be envisaged.
Does feminization of a profession equal a loss of prestige?
When women start exercizing a high-class profession, depreciative comments are held. They aim at female professionals and their activity field, which is supposed to be depreciated. The same reaction has been observed when women start outnumbering men in a field. What is at stake in these recurrent reactions can be grasped if their analysis includes representations and survey results as well as comparisons in time, among professions and between genders. Strategies to eliminate competition must be distinguished from social and institutional evolutions. Some of them are problematic, but the feminization process is not at stake. Besides, women on the whole do not hold the most valued and least exposed positions. The position held, the specialty, the exercise mode, which implies varying degrees of involvement in the private sphere, draw the line. Can situations and concrete choices of women and men on the workplace and in the family question traditional divisions and hierarchies?
How to intervene in the field of ill-being at work?
The violence at work is not only mediatic. Workers as diverse as professional firemen, bus drivers, teachers, social workers and still others have been able to give evidence of the agressions they are the victims of through concrete work conditions, many of them at the individual level. What is the positioning of work in the diverse phenomenons of violence that are denounced? How to act on work organization to prevent the risk of psychological persecution? How do we, company consultants, meet violence, what impact can we have on it? Keeping in mind that genders are not undifferentiated, I am less interested in their respective specificities than in their commensurability.
Corporal constraint : mobbing
The mediatic presence of mobbing questions its social and psychopathological legitimacy. To understand how toxic the experience of mobbing is, it is necessary to investigate how work situations impact identities. This new syndrom must be examined within the broader framework of positive and negative impact of work organization on physical and mental health. Individual defence mecanisms and collective strategies set up by subjects in order to hold on at work can either strengthen or dismantle a collective, thus resulting in the making of a scapegoat. Internalization of the firm’s organizational values make tormenting individuals and systematizing it with corporal constraint techniques commonplace. The symbolic strength of job-related gestures is a particularly efficient tool to unsettle the psychosomatic economy. The methods used are comparable to torture or initiation techniques. The disaffiliation to a group emprisons the individual in an intense loneliness. Getting together with the company medical officer, the government medical inspector, the general practitioner, the work psychologist does not sum up to a medical and administrative strategy. This networking work symbolically highlights the isolation of the person harrassed and puts an end to the psychosomatic disinvolvement under way.
Female careers : contingency or project?
Although the professional behavior of working class women has profoundly changed over the past thirty years, their career remains proble-matic. Based on biographical interviews of men and women from the working class, the analysis reveals that they interpret and recount their paths in life differently. Whereas men fit their career within a project (initial or reconstructed in the light of their present situation), female recounts express a strong feeling of contingency. Since female careers are not taken for granted, they require step-by-step negotiation within the couple. Male careers are imposed as obvious, and are therefore largely autonomous. Men and women thus demonstrate unequal individualization capacities in the professional field, which strongly determines their attitudes towards career.
N°6, 2001 – Providential women: caring for children and for parents
Childcare policy in France : pros and cons
Since the 1970s, in close relation to the increasing female participation in the workforce, public authorities have taken a whole gamut of measures in favor of families with young children, and more particularly the set-up of childcare facilities. Since the 1980s, under the pretext of fighting unemployment, priority was given to public subsidies in favor of individual childcare. However, the needs in this field are far from answered. In addition to the fact that day nurseries do not offer enough places, childcare and education are still mostly women’s work, whether in the private or in the professional fields. Jobs in daycare nurseries or as babysitters are often precarious and poorly paid. Social inequalities persist in terms of choice and access to various types of childcare, although recent reforms have contributed to their reduction.
Execution jobs in telecommunications : comparing France and Germany
Changes of female professional activity in France and in Germany since the 1960s : low-level jobs in the public sector. The status of female activity is always different in two otherwise similar European countries : unlike in France, being married and having children in Germany always increases the gap between women with a continuous professional activity and those without one. Starting from this general assessment, this article aims at analysing the extent to which jobs in the public sector, as well as the practices of women in these jobs, influence this tendency. I particularly study the role of a prototype of female salaried activity considered as poorly qualified through a qualitative analysis of the relation to work and to employment in a subgroup of employees as a social and professional category (or CSP in French), namely the operators of the telephone information service.
Social policy and maternity : the case of East and West Germany
The contribution focuses on how social policy, or precicely, institutional regulations and law affect the social practices of working mothers and their daily lives. As this practices are embedded in cultural patterns and normative rules of the prevailing society, the question is raised, to what extent the culture of different welfare regimes are determined by those historical grown orientations and values or rather, which effect law or legal order have on social behaviour. As an example serves a case study of the different social policies in East and West-Germany and their effects on everyday practices and opportunities of women. It clearly turns out, that there are legible differences in women`s daily lives and also in their concept of motherhood : in the East, women take for granted the fact that they will be able to combine work and motherhood, while West German women feel much more ambivalence regarding their responsibilities. The German case is particularly instructive because women from East and West share common historical roots. Therefore, it may be useful to explore how ideas, practices and policies get buried and re-surface over time. The very different policy trajectories in the post-war period in the two Germanies provide fertile ground for the exploration of meanings.
résumé rédigé en anglais par l’auteure
From one generation of citizenship to another : care coverage
In many welfare states, age-related dependence is now being recognised as an « average risk », similar to other risks such as unemployment or illness that post-1945 social citizenship already protects against. The central proposition of this paper is the following. By creating such allowances, policy-makers are doing more than creating a programme. They are making choices about how to redesign the citizenship regime, and creating a new one. Therefore, this article examines the consequences of this issue as citizenship regimes are restructured by neo-liberalism, with particular attention to the consequences for gender relations.
résumé rédigé en anglais par l’auteure
Work centered on the other and its conceptualization in Europe
This article examines the concept of care, its genesis and its use in North-American feminist research. Difficulties encountered translating this concept in French demonstrate its complex relation to the French approach of care-related work and home care services. What characterizes North-American feminist appproaches is their double reference to categories of European social coverage systems on the one hand, and to volunteer female work within the family, on the other. We underline both the interest of such approaches and the plurality of gender-equality conceptualizations that they imply.
Age-related dependency of the aged in social policy
Age-related dependency, i.e. their need for help in daily tasks, has become a new public-policy issue since the beginning of the 1980s. This phenomenon has serious consequences in terms of gender, not only because women experience such difficulties more frequently as a consequence of the gender difference in life expectancy, but also in the sense that the main providers of care and help within families are the women, whether members of the family or professional. Defining a policy in that field is therefore crucial to gender-related equal opportunities. This article first offers the framework of an analysis that highlights gender-related issues within the evolution of welfare systems. It then applies this framework to France in the field of dependence and points out its consequences in terms of gender, whether in private or in professional care-giving activities.
Gender and economy : missed opportunities
The gender issue is usually not dealt with in economic theories and policies. Neo-classical trends (the human capital theory, discrimination, etc.) have focused many works on female job offers, especially those offered to married women, whereas these works rely on, and therefore never question, role specialization within the family. Heterodox trends, on the other hand, or at least their the basic texts on them, possibly even without the segmentation theory, totally confused the issue, whereas the very heart of their analysis resides in inequalities. More recently, economic theories have echoed this silence by erasing the gender distinction in the measures implemented. The object of this article is to trigger a questioning of the status of gender within economics, starting with an overview of the main economic tendencies in France since the 1960s-1970s. Silence in the field of economic policy is then illustrated by the gender issue among poor workers.
N°3, 2000 – The male gender is not neutral
Genealogy of a conquest :
motherhood and women’s rights in France at the end of the 19th century and during the 20th century
The period under study extends from the end of the Nineteenth Century to 1939, meanwhile the idea of protection of maternity began to shape, not necessarily meaning that it was a linear progress and it shows the rise of the Welfare State in France. Some changes appeared when we moved from the Nineteenth Century where no law did exist in favor of maternity protection, to the beginning of the Twentieth Century with the promulgation of the first laws for protection of maternity based on assistance, to the inter war period when the social assurance system prevailed. Women’s movements were one agent amongst others in the contruction of the Welfare State.
The army as school of masculinity : the example of Germany in the 19th century
With a compulsory military service, the army in Germany turned into a » school of masculinity » rather than a » school of the nation » during the 19th century. This mission, expressed as such in speeches of educationalists and politicians as early as the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century, was also favorably echoed by officers in the 19th century. However, no agreement was reached as to the content of the curricula. Its evolution followed internal transformations of the army, as well as that of the role of the army in society.
Charles Gadea and Catherine Marry
Fathers who win : having children and being professionally successful among engineers
Contrary to women, the more children male engineers have, the more successful they are professionally. Based on a review of literature relative to men and engineers, we explore the main hypotheses that this assessment suggests. Professional fortune smiled on these fathers : are they breadwiners in the Parsonian sense of the word, with a gifted spouse to support their career, and the responsability to feed their children spurring their zeal at work, thus pleasing their employers ? Or are these engineers closer than others to dominant representations of virility ? At the close of our analysis, which is based on various statistical surveys of graduate engineers and managers, it is difficult to decide between these various figures, as it is difficult to come to a decision regarding single engineers without children, whose careers are far less brilliant.
Defensive virility, creative masculinity
Based on clinical and theoretical research in psychodynamics of the workplace, the author defends the idea that the analysis of social and subjective processes that construct creative masculinity, as opposed to defensive virility, is a major step in the deconstruction of the gendered social system.
The pretence of apprenticeship
The gendered structure of jobs, and, upstream, of education, suggests that the differentiation of male and female professional insertion processes is linked primarily with the organizing of the labor market. This idea, although undoubtedly indispensable, does not address the question of what it means to learn a job. The example of in-company apprenticeship, a sector in which the gender division is firmly established, shows that beyond the gendered structure of jobs, mental structures exist that deeply shape the way a job is learned. Thus female apprentices tend to look for access to a job and know-how, whereas male apprentices are immediately inserted in a wage-earning relationship, thus minimizing the importance of training. That these socialized mental structures endure even in the case of atypical apprenticeships (i.e. in fields dominated by the oppposite gender) shows how much they are internalized. It also demonstrates that the absence of direct competition between women and men on the labor market is not enough for the latter to display a benevolent neutrality.
Women’s international day, pursuing a myth
On March 8, women’s day is celebrated throughout the world. That date is believed to commemorate a dressmakers’ strike in New York City in 1857. There is, however, no evidence of a workers’ movement at that time in American history. The International Conference of Socialist Women, which decided upon this annual celebration in 1910, neither referred to such an event nor set the date of March 8. Only later, in the 1950s, did the legend of New York dressmakers take shape and become wide-spread. This article outlines the steps and results of the investigation that set the records straight. It also questions the motivations of socialist women in 1910, and those of other women who gave this time-honored celebration a new origin.
How to find one’s place again? Unemployment and family life of male managers
In order to understand how unemployment threatens a man’s role in his family, such an event must be placed back within the family environment as well as its division of domestic labor, which followed the evolution of the couple. Two ideal models of masculinity were isolated from groups of unemployed managers in the South of France. The traditional model of the male as the principal breadwinner seems to be seriously threatened, since he must take on his role as a father and a husband with diminishing resources. The more equalitarian model of the « male companion » seems to emerge from this test in better shape, since during this period, the man offers his family increased presence and availability. But unemployment still remains a denial of the mainstay of modern fatherhood : work.
N°4, 2000 – Women pioneers
Female engineers in Greece (1923-1996) : increasing feminization of a profession under crisis
This article deals with the meeting of the female gender with the engineering profession in Greece. It attempts to reconstruct and analyze the major phases of a “conquest” that started three quarters of a century ago and that has been going on ever since at an accelerated pace. The various steps of the increasing access of the Greek woman to the engineering profession are viewed in the light of an analysis of the Greek engineering environment. Its structure is particularly atypical with regard to the main characteristics of this profession in other European countries, and is to be ascribed to the equally atypical form of economic development that has taken place in Greek society.
The first students of the University of Paris
If a few women only timidly ventured to join the French university under the Second Empire, women truly conquered this male bulwark under the Third Republic : they made up 3% of the students at the beginning of the 20th century, vs. 30% in 1938. This conquest was made possible by four types of pioneers. The first one, the female holders of a “baccalauréat”*, were self-taught, since female secondary education, set up only in 1880, did not aim at obtaining a “baccalauréat”, the first college degree. The second one, the students of the university of Paris, reveals what difficulties are encountered by these women when they try to register in certain faculties – especially law – and to exist as female students. The third one, foreign students, deserves to be rediscovered as those who paved the way for French students. Finally, the fourth one, the female graduates, allows us to assess how functional or non-functional female studies are.
* Baccalauréat : A-level (UK), high-school degree (USA).
At the origin of “HEC Jeunes Filles”*, Louli Sanua
An outstanding figure in the world of bourgeois feminism at the beginning of the century, Louli Sanua created the first business school for women in 1916, which later became HECJF, a selective business school for young women. A talented pedagogue and organizer, this young schoolteacher of 30 years of age succeeded in creating, within a few years, a strong network of supporters in the educational and political world, which very soon made it possible to create a graduate business school whose good reputation spread quickly. Before closing down in 1975, when coeducation became the rule, HECJF trained about 4500 young women. From the very beginning of the school, its founder fought for the recognition both of the legitimacy of women’s work and of their ability to occupy managerial positions while being granted equal pay and status with their male counterparts.
* A female version of France’s prime business school, HEC
Dmitri Gouzévitch et Irina Gouzévitch
The difficult challenges of the no man’s land
or the Russian way towards women’s engineering professionalization (1850S – 1920S)
The Russian case we present here deals more concretely with the birth and the early history of a very original institution, the Polytechnical Institute for Women, created in Saint-Petersburg in 1906. This case-study is intersting for many reasons. First, it seems nearly the earliest phenomenon in the 20th centuries women’s and educational history. Another known example of this kind – the French Ecole Polytechnique Féminine – dates, in fact, of only 1924. Secondly, it played a particularly stimilating role in the emergence and further development of thechnical education for women at the scale of the state. Thirdly, it is in some sense symbolic because it crowned a hard struggle carried on during half a century for the equal rights and free access of Russian women to higher education. Finally, it is paradoxical, because its very existance was closely linked to the history of two Russian revolutions, of 1905 and 1917 : the first one having generated it, the second one annihilating it as an autonomous institution. To integrate the Russian case in the transnational women’s and engineering history, we will try to answer the following questions : how could this institution emerge in Russia ? Why took it this particular form ? In this concrete period ? What were its claims, aims and challenges ? Who were its main actors and supporters ? What was its place in the general educational structure of the Russian empire ? In what the Russian way towards the women’s technical education was similar and dissimilar from its West-european conterparts ?
Ce résumé a été écrit en anglais par l’auteur
Part-time jobs within the French post office
In order to adapt to its new economic context, the French post office has taken steps over the past few years to foster professional work and flexible employment, among other goals. Part-time jobs have therefore been promoted within the organization. Based on the results of a survey of two post offices outside the Paris area, this article underlines that, far from reconciling work and family chores, part-time jobs are primarily chosen by female employees who consider their working conditions difficult to bear, and who do not have access to professional mobility. In order to go beyond the dichotomy between chosen and imposed hours, this article suggests a typology of the part-time types of employment assessed according to Hirschmann’s categories of collective action.
Domestic work and injustice. A comparative study in West and East Germany after 1945
The surplus of female population has been one of the most debated social problems of the German post-war period. However, this issue disappeared from public debate after 1949, when two German states were created. Single women then became a minority passed over in silence, feeling disadvantaged in many ways when compared to married women. The feeling of being discriminated against was particularly strong with regard to “homework day” and its legal organization. One day per week of paid leave was granted to female employees to help them accomplish heavy housework chores. This privilege was refused not only to men, but also, most of the time, to single women. In both East and West Germany, single women as well as a few men violently protested against this unfair measure. The main argument of this study is that this reaction was an expression of a feeling of injustice. Such a feeling testifies of a continuity of mentalities beween East and West Germany that transcends differences in political systems and gender.
N° 1, 1999 – Work and Poverty: Women’s Share
La domination masculine by Pierre Bourdieu
Employment Leftovers : Part-Time Employment and Poverty
While politicians and economists are legitimately getting a fixation about unemployment, another reality is being concealed, i.e. underemployment and flexibility, which are counterparts of the development of part-time work, and translate into job insecurity
and poverty on the workplace. This article is based on the study of workers experiencing job insecurity (part-time, low-paid jobs or insufficient working hours with little or no institutional regulation) in employment in private households, retailing chains and cleaning. It aims at highlighting how ambiguous employment is in certain specifically female working conditions such as part-time work, unqualified or under-qualified work, and work without any longterm job security nor career development opportunities. Although its description of poverty cannot be exhaustive, the ambition of this article is to evaluate to which extent employment as conceived over the past years (i.e. striving to reduce a two-digits unemployment rate) aggravates poverty on the workplace, especially through the development of part-time work, which is a massively female reality.
Women on the Margin of Activity, at the Heart of Flexibility
Over the past three decades, the increase in female professional activity has not flagged, even for women who raise small children. However, a reversing trend appeared in the mid-1990s : as soon as their second child is born, women, especially the youngest and the poorest, frequently interrupt their professional activity. Early implication in family duties and the entry in the labour force affect professional paths of young mothers, punctuated with unemployment and job insecurity. Exposed to flexibility of working hours and atypical jobs, encouraged to dedicate themselves to their young children’s education through social policies, confronted with the male/female balance of power within their family, these young mothers are excluded from the labour market, whereas their attachment to employment remains vivace.
Pierre Concialdi et Sophie Ponthieux
The Low-Wage Risk : Women First
The risk in low-wage jobs over the past fifteen years has mainly penalized women. Low-wage risk is first linked to the characteristics of the job, especially part-time ones, which mostly concern women. The development of part-time work has also given rise to unchosen parttime employment. Low wages are not necessarily complementary
salaries : in almost one third of the cases, low salaries are the only wage income of the household. The accrued persistance of low wages over the past fifteen years hits women first and foremost. In men’s case, low wages seem to reflect transitory situations more often.
The Conditions of Economic Equality
The legitimacy of female labor is still uncertain. Since the XIXth century, financial autonomy is the obvious key to this uncertainty, for work, in one word, is freedom. Before examining the means by which to reach economic and professional equality, one must reassess work as the precondition to women’s freedom. That is why parity is not the word to suit the purpose. Parity certainly is political, linguistic and domestic. The adjectives used to qualify parity indicate where power, democratic debate, domestic and political government can be located. The necessity of this equality, however, remains to be proven through texts as well as through lawful, social and political action-taking. What is at stake is the proof and the production of equality.
Maria Jepsen, Danièle Meulders and Isabelle Terraz
Part-time Employment and Poverty Threats : Women’s Situation in Belgium
While those fighting unemployment wonder whether to further flexibilize the labor market and let low wages and poverty boom, or to protect work, poverty then striking those excluded from the protective system, very few articles precisely deal with the degree of overlap between low wages and poverty. Furthermore, those which deal with the issue only focus on full-time workers having worked all year, a stable population per se. While part-time employment spreads, as a wide number of countries claim that it is a way of sharing work, we find it essential to reconsider the relation between low wages and poverty by including part-time workers. Furthermore, since part-time work is a typically female activity, we find it interesting to examine this relation from the double standpoint of working hours and gender. Low-wage earners in Belgium are actually mostly women working part-time. However, these people are not weakened when they live in a couple, since they are majoritarily part of the middle-class. Still, this situation bears the risk of future poverty in a context of ever-increasing marital separations as well as as regards retirement. Indeed, the population at risk counts people who benefit from no or few rights as individuals in the present social security system.
When Institutions Take Responsability for Female Labour, 1970-1995
Feminisation of the paid workforce and constant increase in female presence on the labour market originated institutions destined to examine specific problems created by female paid work and to facilitate this activity. These periods can be distinguished in the progressive set-up of these institutions. They correspond to thresholds reached in the evolution of these structures, and the responsibility taken on the issue according to the period under study. The 1970-1980 period contributed to a slow, but progressive evolution of institutions, for example through a Study and Liaison Group changing into a sub-Ministry. The 1981-1986 period is marked by strong institutionalisation, and the creation of a Women’s Rights Ministry aiming at granting rights to women as full individuals, particularly in terms of professional equality with men. The 1988-1995 period corresponds to the disappearance of a political lead on the subject of women, institutionally translated into the move from a full Ministry to a sub-Ministry to a service of the Ministry of Labour, i.e. an administrative structure that has no decisional power, nor capacity to take initiatives.
Elisabetta Ruspini and Chiara Saraceno
Poor Salaries, Precarious Income : The Case of Women in Italy
The analysis of the data provided by the Bank of Italy enables the authors to confirm their hypothesis, according to which the poverty of working women is often compensated for, although concealed, within the family. Actually, data related to individual resources show that more often than men, women who work have work-related incomes that are lower than the poverty line, particularly if they are independent. Other studies also show that among poor workers, women are twice as numerous as men, and that the gap between the average male salary and the average female salary reaches 20 % ; furthermore, the gap is even wider for married women. Even if this does not necessarily mean that women are in poverty, given the fact that they have access to part of the family income, these elements point out female vulnerability in case of intra-marital negotiations or in case of marital separation. To conclude, the authors stress how risky the increasingly frequent recourse to evaluations of family financial resources in social policy are.
The Poor Woman in the XIXth century According to J.-V. Daubié
The poor woman in the XIXth century, published in 1866, the outcome of a vast survey of female condition and resources, is a previously unpublished account of the misery of female workers. The author, Julie-Victoire Daubié, a major figure of French feminism in the Second Empire, happens to be the first female holder of the French baccalaureate. She denounces a plural misery that hits single women hardest, whether widows or not. This misery is economic – wage inequality is justified by female underqualification, women being vastly excluded from general and professional education -, but also political and moral, which highlights the responsability of the State as well as that of men.
N°2, 1999 – Is Work a Right?
Trade Union Women as European Social Actor
The European Union provides for trade unions (and employers) to share in policy-making. The structures and processes of this « European Social Dialogue » are coming to constitute an international space in which trade unionists of the various member states can meet each other and shape a common agenda. Women have been mobilizing to enter this arena and to introduce a gender perspective to labour movement interventions in European policy. Drawing on new research, the article analyses these developments and, drawing on recent feminist critiques of international relations theory, shows how women’s incursions into this international arena tend to re-define the concern of IR, its actors and its concepts.
Annie Fouquet and Claude Rack
Women and employment policies
Is employment a right? A right for citizens? A right for women? How do employment policies take into account the question of gender? Employment was referred to as a lawful right at the beginning of the 80s, when employment, which used to be a goal of the economic policy (« full employment »), became a part of social policy. Women are rarely aimed at, since the notion of employment is based on industrial, male, qualified, stable, full-time blue-collar employment. Social benefits are constructed in reference to a model that is not representative of women’s work situation. Most of them unqualified, in the service sector, part-time, on a fixed contract or « inactive », women have access to social benefits through their dual status of salaried workers and spouses (derived rights). Specific employment policies that were developed in the 80s did not fully consider the concept of employment, nor did they take into account women’s specific situations. Therefore, they globally reproduced male-female inequalities on the workplace. Granted modest or even symbolic funds, these specific policies had a very marginal impact before they gradually dissapeared. The universalist inheritage that permeates law and actors’ ways in France locks out the concept of positive action. The new European employment strategy is applied in France through a National Action Plan for Employment 1999 that specifies figures reflecting male/female equality: will this European strategy durably change French ways?
Antoine Jeammaud and Martine Le Friant
The Uncertain Right for Employment
According to the preamble of the French constitution of 1946, « Everyone has (…) the right to obtain a job ». However, the « positivity » of such a right is doubtful. Specialists of labor law grant this statement little « legal value »: it could be the constitutional foundation of State employment policy, enabling the legislator to produce rules that are supposed to enhance full employment. But a realistic look at laws applicable to the Republican territory (« positive laws ») reveals that this right, although surprising, has a large influence. An analysis of the impact, whether real or highly probable, of this right in the legal field gives it some reality (legitimization effect, obstacle effect, orientation or interpretation of other laws). It leads to the conclusion that French law does include the right to obtain a job, however specific its status and structure are.
Access to Work : a Mirage for Crèche Workers
Entirely belonging to the private domestic universe, the professional activity of crèche workers « employed » in private households, legally based on a recent and more than uncertain salaried status, cumulates institutional job insecurity and invisibility. Many aspects of the job block access to to the status of employment, which therefore remains in the field of under-employment and sub-workforce. Examples are an internalized activity closely linked to under-the-table work, free services, non-marketable exchanges, work and activities performed and thought of as « being natural », an evasion from the economic basis ot the salaried relationship and a « naturalization » of maternal know-how. Employment in private households remains an illusion and is socially reserved for women from lower socio-economic classes.
The 35-hour Law to the Test of Women’s Rights
This legal article analyzes the main consequences of the government bill reducing the legal length of the working week in the light of women’s rights. It particularly focuses on possible unfavorable effects of certain rules in the field of working hours that are sometimes already acknowledged as such. But it also examines what aspects the project does not take into account, thus creating professional inequalities for women. It draws attention on matters essential to female workers, but that are often disregarded in the debate, such as working hours and individual rights. It stresses the importance, still largely underestimated, of the right to negotiate in companies. Finally, it suggests ways to rethink laws relative to working hours, in reference, more particularly, to fundamental human rights and to legal principles that could guarantee equal treatment for women.
When Women Represent the State
The history of women in the workplace is often that of contradictions between dominant discourses and facts, but also that of paradoxes. Bans, social pressure, objections to competences and intelligence: discourses are plenty to justify pushing women aside and saving decision and authority for men. However, elusively or locally, the State gave women a place in the institution as heads of departments, work inspectors, and, more importantly, inspectors of asylums and general inspectors of the Ministry of Domestic Affairs. Research on these professions and positions are hardly under way today. Our goal is simply to stress that, in the midst of male chauvinism of the 19th and 20th centuries, some women took place in the hierarchy of the public sector, thus stressing strong social contradictions.