into Women's Work?
Ed Balls, the advisor to the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, saw British men as having lost 'the battle of the sexes' for jobs by the mid-1990s (Balls, 1994; Coward, 1999). Indeed, in certain areas of Britain, women are as likely to have a job as men (Benn, 1998). Unemployment trends, especially for the less-qualified, certainly give the impression that men in Britain are losing out in the share of all the jobs available.Feminisation of employment does not spell the feminisation of power, but some writers have suggested it means the feminisation of men (McDowell, 1991), whilst others argue that it may signal a shift in gender relations (Bradley, 1998). The British Equal Opportunities Commission have increasingly taken up complaints from men about sex discrimination (EOC, 1996).
This chapter examines the case for seeing individual men as potential victims of the sex stereotyping that otherwise structures male labour market advantage in Britain.The discussion is divided into two parts: first, the gender restructuring process in Britain in the 1980s and 1990s is analysed; and, second, the attributes of the men who have been able to enter jobs that are generally type-cast as female are considered. The barriers to working across the gender divide are such that those that do so are in some ways atypical. An examination of their characteristics should demonstrate something of the barriers to 'gender‐ incongruent' working.
The raw picture of women holding an ever greater proportion of jobs needs to be qualified, of course. Men still hold the bulk of the full-time jobs, the better-paid jobs and the jobs that offer both status and power. 2 Moreover, the growing female proportion of the labour market active population has not generally implied any forced displacement of men from paid work.There is equally no reason to suppose that there is a fixed quota of jobs, such that those held by women are held at the expense of men.