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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 12: Women’s Employment Transitions and Mobility in the United States: 1968 to 1991

Heather Hofmeister


Heather Hofmeister1 INTRODUCTION This chapter will assess the indicators of globalization forces in terms of rising uncertainty on the careers of women born in the United States between 1942 and 1953 based on their exits, re-entrances and job mobility in the 1970s and 1980s, comparing the earliest born with the latest born. The United States is the most populous country described in this volume, with 141 million women representing an enormous scope and complexity of women’s experiences. With its individualist-orientation and labor market/ family policies that vary in each of the 50 states, the pathways women take to and through employment over the life course can bear many variations but, despite this diversity, some patterns are found throughout the country. Labor market pathways in the United States are uncertain in comparison with many other countries in this volume, where labor protections are stronger and seniority, state intervention and large public sectors protect many jobs. But women tend to experience more uncertainty than men, even within a particular country, and the United States is no exception. American women, like women in other countries, are concentrated in radically unequal fields of study and institutions (Charles and Bradley 2002) and they still average less pay and security than men in the labor market even for the same jobs. Much evidence shows that American women began a rapid rise in employment in the twentieth century due to a variety of factors, including delayed age at marriage, rising levels of education, postponement of first births,...

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