9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN14 Gender Relations in the Labour Market and the Welfare State

2009-09-03 15:30:00 2009-09-03 17:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 15:30 - 17:00 Work Life Balance - Women´s Employment and Service Sector Developments Building AA, AA.324

Gendered labour market developments in business services. An empirical analysis based on longitudinal employment data

Women's service sector employment has been largely analysed concerning the household and care related labour market. But what about the growing and dynamic branches of business services, emerging from structural changes in the industrial sector, e.g. outsourcing processes, during the last decades? At the "high end" of occupation, this set of branches includes qualified, knowledge intensive service work in research and development, consultancy, advertising, engineering services and information technology. At the "low end", there are precarious, low paid jobs in new service branches as security services, industrial cleaning and the growing number of temporary employment agencies. In recent market and employment prognoses, business services are predicted to be the future of European labour markets in quantitative and qualitative respect - but oddly, in those prognoses gender relations do not appear.

This contribution aims at that "gender gap" in attention and will enlighten the gendered labour market developments in business services. Two rival theoretical orientations claiming to explain gendered labour market differences will be tested here. Human capital theories are focusing individual investments and decisions, while structurally oriented approaches focus segmentation and segregation in labour markets and organisations.

These competing perspectives are the background of following empirical questions treated here: What did women gain during the last decades in the growing business service branches - looking at earnings, management positions, job security? How are these achievements related to their "human capital" invested, in terms of qualification, further education, occupational interruptions because of family commitments? In a structural perspective - what part does labour market segmentation combined with gender segregation play? Is there any broader access of women to higher positions of knowledge intensive, well paid service sector occupations? Or are quantitative gains in employment paid by precarious, underrated jobs for women?

The presented research results are based on a secondary analysis of German longitudinal data on occupational field developments during the past 20 years. The selected data allow international comparisons as well as estimates of recent developments and their impacts on women.