9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN13 Sociology of Families and Intimate Lives

2009-09-05 11:00:00 2009-09-05 12:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 11:00 - 12:30 Family and Support Networks II Building II, Auditório B1.04

Working mothers in Europe: Working time, preferences, gender norms and housework

The aim of this paper is to examine how different working time / caring regimes in Europe influence women´s choice of working time schedule and how these decisions are influenced by the gender norms prevailing among working mothers in the individual European countries.
It is intensively debated whether women actively are choosing part-time or housework or whether their choices of working time are institutionally constrained. Some authors argue that women´s gender role attitude and life style preferences explain the high proportion of women who prefer part-time or in some countries even to take up full-time care ( for example Hakim 1996, 2002). Hakim argues that a majority of women are family centred and committed to child rearing and therefore prefer part time / full-time caring. Others have a much more critical view on the reasons for women´s choice of labour market involvement. They claim that part-time or full-time caring are structurally constrained by the incompatibility of full-time employment and family responsibilities. According to this perspective the high level of female part-time workers is a consequence of lack appropriate leave programmes or child care facilities (for example Crompton et al 2007 & Wallace 2002).
The article will examine the relationship between actual working hours, preferred working hours, house work and the prevailing gender norms among employed women with depended children in Europe. The analysis will be structured around a number of country clusters based on an index for gender norms, women´s time spend on house work, and women´s actual and preferred working hours. The central question is to what extent women?s choices of reducing working are institutionally constrained or whether women choose to reduce working time because of gender norms or because they are less committed to paid work. The empirical data are from the European Social Survey and includes 24 European countries.