Gender Inequalities in the 21st Century
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Gender Inequalities in the 21st Century

New Barriers and Continuing Constraints

Edited by Jacqueline Scott, Rosemary Crompton and Clare Lyonette

Both women and men strive to achieve a work and family balance, but does this imply more or less equality? Does the persistence of gender and class inequalities refute the notion that lives are becoming more individualised? Leading international authorities document how gender inequalities are changing and how many inequalities of earlier eras are being eradicated. However, this book shows there are new barriers and constraints that are slowing progress in attaining a more egalitarian society. Taking the new global economy into account, the expert contributors to this book examine the conflicts between different types of feminisms, revise old debates about ‘equality’ and ‘difference’ in the gendered nature of work and care, and propose new and innovative policy solutions.
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Chapter 4: Gender and the Post-industrial Shift

Janette Webb


Janette Webb INTRODUCTION Economic restructuring in industries, work and occupations over the last century has transformed the lives of men and women, and the relationships between them, with rising standards of living, and greater economic independence for many women. During this period, the more affluent countries have typically undergone a considerable shift in the material basis of economic relations away from manufacturing towards services. The paid work available to men and women in such societies has changed considerably, with factory jobs becoming much less common, while office work, retail, leisure and welfare services have grown. On average, women are more likely to be active in the labour market for longer periods, and are becoming more significant figures, alongside men, in public life. This chapter focuses on the relatively recent changes in women’s and men’s paid work and occupations in four different countries – the UK, USA, Sweden and Japan – each exemplifying a form of advanced capitalism. It considers whether the apparently universal ‘post-industrial shift’ in these countries is accompanied by growing commonality in gender relations in employment, or whether there are meaningful differences between countries which derive from distinctive societal and cultural formations. Each of the four countries typifies the ‘post-industrial shift’ described above: employment in extractive industries, manufacturing, utilities and construction is in decline, relative to employment in business, commercial and welfare services. Although this trend is shared, each country has a different trajectory of industrial, and post-industrial, development and employment relations, and each one has pursued distinct politicaleconomic policies:...

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