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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 17: Women’s Careers in an Era of Uncertainty: Conclusions from a 13-Country International Comparison

Heather Hofmeister and Hans-Peter Blossfeld


Heather Hofmeister and Hans-Peter Blossfeld1 INTRODUCTION Women’s increasing ties to the labor market in modern societies have helped to enhance their equality and reduce their oppression. The goal of this book has been to test for evidence that these changes might be reversing owing to globalization for women in 13 countries: Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Hungary, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Britain, the United States, Mexico, Italy and Spain. We examine whether the processes of globalization in the second half of the twentieth century accelerate patterns of labor market attachment by expanding the amount and variety of work available, or if these processes reverse trends toward equality by concentrating women in positions of low security and disempowerment in the labor market at various points along the life course, even if their attachment has increased. Women without access to quality employment must rely on alternative sources of support such as earner/breadwinners – fathers, sons, husbands – or the state. In fact, many systems are, or until recently were, designed around the idea that women will obtain their security from partners. The dire and even life threatening consequences for unpartnered, widowed, abused, abandoned or divorced women are ignored or accepted. But even the security of male breadwinners and the state are increasingly challenged under globalization in almost all of the countries under study (Blossfeld et al. 2005; Blossfeld, Buchholz and Hofäcker 2006; Blossfeld, Mills and Bernardi 2006). Since the early 1960s, rates of mid-life women’s paid work have been steadily increasing in...

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