‘Her’ and ‘his’ education and class: new polarisations in work histories

Cristina Solera

in Women in and out of paid work

Published by Policy Press

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9781861349309
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447304319 | DOI:
‘Her’ and ‘his’ education and class: new polarisations in work histories

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Education is a strong discriminator of women's labour market supply and types of family-work combination. It gives access to higher job positions and wages, it mediates attitudes and identities, and it furnishes greater bargaining power in adopting ‘preferred’ choices. Moreover, everywhere a woman's allocation of time between paid and unpaid work is negotiated within the household, and, because of either cognitive or instrumental rationality, it is influenced by her partner's symbolic and material resources. However, variations across countries in the link between education, motherhood, and participation are still wide. This chapter focuses on the family-work nexus and on its variation according first to the woman's education, and then to her partner's education and class. Do women with low educations behave differently from those with high educations when they get married or become mothers? In particular, is motherhood a social leveller, or does education overcome motherhood's typically negative effect on participation? Do women married to high-educated or high-class men behave differently from those whose husbands have a lower educational and occupational profile? And how has all this changed across generations?

Keywords: education; labour market participation; occupational profile; motherhood; partners; choice

Chapter.  9410 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Gender and Sexuality

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