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Globalization, Uncertainty and Women’s Careers

An International Comparison

Edited by Hans-Peter Blossfeld and Heather Hofmeister

Globalization, Uncertainty and Women’s Careers assesses the effects of globalization on the life courses of women in thirteen countries across Europe and America in the second half of the 20th century.
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Chapter 3: Women’s Employment in West Germany

Sandra Buchholz and Daniela Grunow


Sandra Buchholz and Daniela Grunow 1 INTRODUCTION Modern societies are profoundly affected by processes of economic and technological change, here referred to as globalization forces. The process of globalization is marked by the internationalization, privatization, deregulation, liberalization and rising importance of markets, as well as the rapid transfer of information and the movement to a knowledge-based economy (Mills and Blossfeld 2005). We are especially interested in the ways these transitions have affected the employment careers of women, who traditionally form a marginal group in the labor market, inasmuch as they are less protected by unions, and typically have less seniority in the job market. We compare the involvement of women in the labor market of West Germany over the past four decades, and pay special attention to the institutional and family contexts that influence women’s labor force participation as well as employment chances. We assume globalization likely affects women’s labor force participation in two ways: through increasing labor market attachment and/or through rising employment insecurity. The first set of arguments about the effects of globalization on women’s attachment to the labor force says that globalization will strengthen women’s labor market ties due to several converging phenomena. For one, the expansion of women’s educational opportunities means that women have become more attractive in the labor market, and that they also stand to gain from investments in paid work. For another, globalization is increasing the uncertainty in men’s careers in particular industries and sectors. So as the formerly secure employees in households...

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