For the Family? How Class and Gender Shape Women's Work

By Sarah Damaske | Go to book overview

7
FOR THE FAMILY
How Women Account for Work Decisions

PAULA, A WORKING-CLASS white woman, was satisfied with her decision to stay at home with her children. “You know, my one sister put it well: ‘You get one chance to raise your kids and why not be there the whole time?’” Despite her satisfaction with her situation, Paula reported receiving conflicting feedback from the people in her life.

People look down on you if you do work; people look down upon you if you
don’t work. So this, you know, in a way I think it’s harder now because I think
you get judged so much and everybody has a very strong opinion. So, you
know, for me this is the best situation. And somebody else … might look down
upon it.

Like many of her female peers, Paula felt caught in the center of the cultural maelstrom that followed the rapid entrance of women into the labor market. Not only are more women working, but women have also increased the amount of their adult lives spent in the labor market.1 Women are following divergent work and family patterns, creating new family forms, and delaying or forgoing childbearing altogether.2 Regardless of a woman’s work trajectory, there remains what sociologist Sharon Hays calls “a no-win situation for women of childbearing years.”3 In her

-145-

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For the Family? How Class and Gender Shape Women's Work
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Tables/Figures ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • 1 - The Need and Choice Myths 3
  • 1 - Expectations about Work 21
  • 2 - The Shape of Women’s Work Pathways 23
  • 3 - A "Major Career Woman" 41
  • 2 - Work Pathways 65
  • 4 - Working Steadily Good Work and Family Support across Classes 67
  • 5 - Pulling Back Divergent Routes to Similar Pathways 93
  • 6 - A Life Interrupted Cumulative Disadvantages Disrupt Plans 120
  • 3 - Negotiating Expectations 143
  • 7 - For the Family How Women Account for Work Decisions 145
  • 8 - Having It All Egalitarian Dreams Deferred 163
  • Appendix 173
  • Notes 181
  • References 201
  • Index 215
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